When a tooth cannot be repaired with a filling or a crown because of an accident, extensive decay, endodontic failure (the tooth nerve is dead) or periodontal (gum) disease an extraction may be your only option.
If the original tooth can’t be healed successfully, there are a couple of other options available to you.
Dental implants are the best possible replacement option for a missing tooth. They are strong, and designed to fuse with surrounding bone (called osseointegration). Dental implants are designed to last for life. A crown is placed over the implant, and if the original tooth is available, an impression is made of that tooth, so that the crown will look and feel like your original tooth.
A bridge is a laboratory-constructed artificial device which is composed of two or more units, one of which will replace a missing tooth. The unit replacing the missing tooth is called a pontic, the units holding the bridge in place are called retainers, and the teeth that they are cemented onto are called abutments. However, if the adjacent teeth are healthy, a fixed bridge would require the “preparation” (or cutting down and shaping) of those otherwise healthy teeth, which can potentially compromise their health in the long term, and those teeth may eventually require treatment or even replacement.
A Maryland bridge is not a common treatment option, but it is available in the event that the adjacent teeth are healthy. This type of bridge consists of the pontic or crown in the centre, and is attached to unprepared teeth by “wings” which are bonded to the teeth. This is also known as a resin-bonded bridge. However, not everyone is suitable for this option, especially if they have a heavy or deep bite that could dislodge the wings repeatedly.
A removable partial denture is durable and designed to last for years with good care. A denture, like a bridge, will not permanently replace the absence of the tooth, and it is likely that the other teeth will shift closer together. This may cause gaps and the appearance and even the health of your other teeth.
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