There are only three options to replace missing teeth:
1.) A Removable Partial Denture (RPD)
A removable partial denture as the name implies is removable. (Many people refer to this appliance as their "bridge". This is incorrect.) It is the most cost effective way to replace missing teeth, especially if many teeth are missing. For only one or two missing teeth most people will not tolerate an appliance that has to be taken out at night. If that is the case the alternative is either a bridge or implant. Both options are more like natural teeth and are "permanently" placed in the mouth.
2.) A Dental Bridge
A bridge is an appliance that is cemented to the teeth (the abutment teeth) on either side of the missing tooth. It places a false tooth (called a pontic) in the open space. Until the advent of implants a bridge was the only way to "permanently" replace missing teeth. There are drawbacks. One is the need to have strong abutments. This is not always the case. There is a need to reduce or shave down abutment teeth that otherwise might be perfectly healthy. Bridges can be difficult to clean and can fail, usually due to decay. The average lifespan of a bridge is said to be about 10 to 12 years. Many last over 20 years but many fail within a year or two.
3.) Dental Implants
Implants have been used in dentistry for over one hundred years. The only problem was they usually failed! About 30 to 40 years ago implant technique changed and today implants have become extremely reliable. For many dentists, implants have replaced the bridge as the preferred way to replace missing teeth*.
For the first time a tooth can be "implanted" into a missing space without having to damage the adjacent abutment teeth. It functions the same as the natural tooth and cleaning is as easy as brushing and flossing. The average lifespan of a successful implant is estimated to be 30 years. This is because the implant is made of titanium and the crown is metal and or porcelain. Decay, the most common reason for bridge failure ceases to be a problem.
For more information on implants please go to the Solutions menu or click here.
* Provided adequate bone exists and you are in reasonably good health.