Accident, injury, or improper dental care can result in the loss of a tooth. Depending on the location of this tooth, replacement may be desired or recommended. There are several options for single tooth replacement and the most popular are a removable partial denture, implant retained crown, and conventional bridge.
Removable Partial Denture
A removable partial denture features replacement teeth affixed to a plastic base that may overlay a metal framework. The denture usually features a clasp that attaches to surrounding natural teeth. The structure is taken out of the mouth for cleaning and while sleeping. It can take a while to get used to the feeling of this denture and eating and speaking may be affected.
Full arch replacement involving a full denture is used to replace teeth in a full arch when all teeth are missing. The denture snaps into place, providing a comfortable fit and improving chewing ability. Dental attachments are selected for maximum retention while providing comfort and a natural appearance. A restorative dentist determines when implant overdenture is the best solution.
Bridge vs. Implant Retained Crown for Single Tooth Replacement
A conventional fixed bridge fills in the gap created by a missing tooth. It is made from ceramics, metal, glass-ceramics, or a combination of these materials and is cemented or bonded into place. While waiting for the permanent bridge to be created, the patient wears a temporary bridge to protect the exposed area. The bridge looks, feels, and functions like a natural tooth and can be cleaned without being removed.
Installing a conventional fixed bridge requires creating space for the crown of the prosthetic tooth by drilling down at least two adjacent teeth. This can kill the nerve of an adjacent tooth, making a root canal necessary to remove nerve infection. When a bridge is placed on natural teeth, the functional forces placed upon them increases. It may also become more difficult to floss between teeth and if cavities develop on supporting teeth, the bridge may need to be replaced.
Anatomy, any opposing teeth, and number of teeth needing to be replaced determine the number of implants required for the fixed bridge. If all teeth on one jaw are missing, a full arch of implants can be placed. If any teeth are remaining, they may need to be removed and a temporary fixed bridge may be required to transition to the implants.
After the implants are placed, a two-week healing period is usually recommended. However, a full arch of implants can now be connected to a temporary fixed bridge in a process called immediate loading. As soon as the implants are placed, they begin receiving load from the chewing forces of the wearer. This requires extensive professional planning and coordination.