Did you know that there are millions of adults in the United States that are missing one or more of their teeth? When you’re missing teeth, you may experience a variety of problems, including speaking, eating, smiling, and your overall appearance. Therefore, if you are missing teeth, it’s a good idea to consider the options for replacing them.
At Wolf Schwartz Dentistry in Boca Raton, Florida, we offer both partial and full-mouth tooth replacement options. When considering your options, you’ll need to know that each solution has advantages and disadvantages. You’ll want to think about the following to determine the best one for you:
Reasons for Missing Teeth
Between the ages of 6 and 12, children lose their primary, or “baby” teeth. At this point, the 32 permanent teeth are growing in. Unfortunately, almost 200 million adults in the United States are missing at least one tooth. There are options- but first you need to consider what caused the tooth loss.
Some of the most common reasons for tooth loss in adults are:
Some of our patients at Wolf Schwartz Dentistry have a malformation of their upper or lower jawbone. This prevents the secondary teeth from forming. This condition is referred to as tooth agenesis and accompanies several congenital conditions such as Down Syndrome, cleft palate and lip, and others.
There are 3 types of tooth loss that occur within this category:
- Hypodontia: missing 1 to 5 secondary teeth
- Oligodontia: missing 6 or more secondary teeth
- Anodontia: missing all secondary teeth
Periodontitis, or gum disease, is another common reason adults are missing secondary teeth. Gum disease is a condition that causes pockets to form between the gums and teeth. Ultimately, this leads to decay of the teeth and bones and causes the gum tissue to recede. Eventually, the tooth falls out.
The mildest form of gum disease is gingivitis. Patients can reverse this by practicing good dental hygiene habits. However, if steps are not taken to address it early, it will progress into periodontitis. This is where plaque buildup moves below the gum line and requires extensive treatment.
Another common reason adults are missing secondary teeth is physical trauma. This may be due to car accidents, falls, sports injuries, and more. If you do lose a tooth due to trauma, it’s critical that you seek emergency dental treatment, ideally within 30 minutes.
Other Missing Teeth Causes
There are several health conditions and behaviors that increase your risk of losing your permanent teeth:
- Tooth decay
- Poor dental hygiene habits
- Liver problems
- Heart disease
- Lack of access to dental care
- Poor nutrition
- Rheumatoid arthritis
At Wolf Schwartz Dentistry, Dr. Schwartz will examine you and ask you about your medical history to determine the reason for your tooth loss. This will help to establish the best option for replacing those teeth. You will be involved in the entire process. Schedule your consultation today to learn more.
Why Replace Missing Teeth?
If you’ve recently lost one or more of your teeth or even if you’ve been living with it for a while, you may wonder if you really need to replace them. The answer is yes. No matter what caused your tooth or when it happened, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. If not, you may experience the following:
Loss of Function
You need your teeth to bite and chew food, as well as speak clearly. When you are missing teeth, you lose that ability. Even one missing tooth can impact these things, depending on the location of the missing tooth. These are impacted even more when you are missing multiple teeth.
When you are missing teeth, your bite becomes misaligned. When a tooth comes out and you’re left with a space, the neighboring teeth will begin to shift to fill in the gap. This means that the upper and lower jaw no longer meet properly, which results in an uneven bite. Additionally, your risk of developing temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is significantly increased.
Another reason you need to address tooth loss quickly is because when you’re missing a tooth, it can cause overgrowth with the opposing tooth. This is because the tooth doesn’t have a counter force to keep it from growing. Therefore, the opposing tooth will continue to grow until it has partially filled in the gap, which can cause both functional and aesthetic complications.
When you’re missing teeth, the jawbone is no longer used, which means the body will resorb it, meaning it will take the bone and distribute it to the other areas. After all, since it isn’t used to absorb chewing forces, the jawbone doesn’t need as much bone mass. This is why you should choose dental implants to replace your missing teeth. The implant will continue to stimulate the bone, which shows the body it is still being used and it will not resorb it.
Problems with Your Smile
While you may not actively be concerned about your appearance, studies have proven that individuals who are missing teeth are less likely to be hired for a job, get into a relationship, and are not as happy. By replacing your missing teeth, you improve your smile, your appearance, and your quality of life.
Two Types of Missing Teeth Replacement
For patients who are only missing a few teeth, Dr. Schwartz recommends partial mouth restoration, which includes the following options:
Single dental implants are one of the most popular choices when it comes to replacing missing teeth. In fact, according to the experts, more than 3 million adults in the United States have chosen this option. Single implants are used to replace one tooth, or they can be used as support for dental prostheses such as implant-supported bridges or implant-supported dentures for those patients who are missing more than one tooth.
A dental implant consists of 3 parts: the implant, which is inserted into the jawbone and acts as a tooth root; the abutment, which attaches the crown to the implant; and the crown, which is the prosthetic tooth. Since they replace the tooth root, they stimulate the jawbone and prevent bone loss. Also, they look, feel, and function the most like natural teeth. This is why they are so popular. However, they are also the most expensive.
Single dental implants offer several Advantages:
- Jawbone fuses with implant, which provides good support when eating, laughing, speaking, and smiling
- Looks, feels, and functions better than most other options
- Doesn’t require natural teeth for support
- Chewing force is distributed throughout jawbone, so no diet restrictions
There are also a few disadvantages of single dental implants:
- More expensive than most other options
- Requires surgery
- Process will take at least a few months and possibly up to a full year to complete
- Increased risk of complication, such as infection, damage to jawbone, and loosening
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement option that can replace one tooth or several. It is made of several pieces that are fused together to fill in the gap where the missing teeth were. This tooth replacement solution is an alternative to partial dentures and can help you speak and eat, as well as improve your appearance.
Dental bridges can be made of several different materials, but porcelain is most common for front teeth since it can be matched to your natural teeth.
There are 4 types of dental bridges:
- Traditional fixed bridge: this is the most common and includes a crown on each side that is mounted onto your natural teeth on each side of the gap. This requires the neighboring teeth to be reduced to allow for the crown to be attached.
- Maryland/Resin-bonded bridge: this type of bridge is most common for replacing front teeth and instead of using crowns to mount the bridge, it has a porcelain or metal framework with “wings” that will be attached to the back of the teeth on each side of the gap
- Implant-supported bridge: uses implants placed on each side of the gap instead of crowns mounted on natural teeth. This preserves the health of the neighboring teeth.
- Cantilever bridge: this type of bridge is used when only one side of the gap has a natural tooth. However, it is rarely used.
There are several Advantages associated with dental bridges:
- Gives mouth/smile a more natural appearance
- Restores ability to speak clearly
- Prevents jawbone loss, which improves facial structure
- Restores ability to chew
- Prevents neighboring teeth from shifting into the empty space
There are a few disadvantages of dental bridges, such as:
- Future damage to neighboring teeth may cause bridge failure
- Bacteria/plaque may get into the bridge or crown that doesn’t fit properly, causing tooth decay
- Crowns may change the structure of teeth
- Bridge may collapse if neighboring teeth cannot support it
- Neighboring teeth may be damaged/weakened by the procedure
Partial dentures are an option for patients who are missing several teeth, but still have some healthy teeth remaining. Typically, partial dentures are removable. They are more than a cosmetic device; they also improve the patient’s ability to eat and speak. They also prevent neighboring teeth from moving into the empty space left by the missing teeth.
Since they are removable, partial dentures, like traditional dentures, must be removed at night for cleaning. Research shows that cleaning them also reduces your risk of developing cavities in the neighboring teeth since you can properly brush them. This is not one of the most popular options due to the fact that they are removable, and some patients have concerns regarding fit and appearance.
- Improves appearance
- Improves self-esteem
- Preserves facial structure
- Improves ability to speak and chew
- Requires meticulous cleaning
- May take a while to get used to wearing them
- Susceptible to breakage, especially if dropped
For our patients who are missing all or most of their teeth, we recommend a full-mouth restoration. In this case, Dr. Schwartz will offer the following options:
Removable dentures, or complete/full dentures, are the least expensive option for replacing missing teeth. These are also referred to as complete or full dentures and, as indicated, are used to replace a full arch of teeth. If you do have some natural teeth left, Dr. Schwartz will take steps to preserve them. However, if this is not possible, we will extract the remaining teeth and consider removable dentures as an option.
While there are a few different materials that are used to make dentures, the most common one is acrylic resin. The problem is that acrylic does wear out and requires replacement every 5 to 8 years. Since they are only supported by your gums and bony ridge, they are not as stable as dental implants. Also, due to the thickness of the denture plate, many patients develop speech issues.
- Restores your ability to chew/eat
- Most budget-friendly option
- Improves confidence/self-esteem
- Improves appearance
- Periodic relines/repairs are required
- May slip/slide around in mouth when speaking or eating
- Some patients develop a lisp
- Lower jawbone resorbs over time, causing lower denture retention to decline
Snap-in dentures also referred to as snap-on or implant-supported dentures are a removable option for replacing missing teeth. Dr. Schwartz will insert implants into your jawbone to create a base for the denture plate to “snap” onto. This tooth replacement option takes advantage of the durability and stability offered by dental implants.
For most patients undergoing a full mouth restoration, only 2 implants are used for this tooth replacement procedure. However, some patients require 4 implants, which increases the stability of the denture. This option works well for replacing both the upper and lower arch of teeth and must be removed at night for cleaning.
Snap-in dentures offers the following Advantages:
- Bone loss prevention
- Allows patients to eat, smile, speak, and laugh comfortably
- Does not typically require bone augmentation
- Most affordable full-mouth restoration option
- Improves facial structure
Some of the disadvantages of snap-in dentures are:
- Requires relines and repairs
- Costs more than traditional removable dentures
- Sore spots
- More expensive than traditional dentures
All-on-4/All-on-6 Dental implants
The All-on-4 and All-on-6 dental implants tooth replacement solution involves implantation of 4 or 6 implants into your jawbone. For the All-on-4 option, Dr. Schwartz will place two implants in the back at a 45° angle and two in the front straight. For patients with a larger arch, we may recommend All-on-6 instead. In this case, we will use 6 implants instead of 4. This will improve the stability of the dental prosthetic.
Once the implants have healed, we will schedule another appointment so that we can attach a customized full-arch denture to the posts.
The All-on-4 and All-on-6 dental implants does offer several Advantages:
- Treatment/recovery time is much shorter than with single dental implants
- Will not slip or fall out like traditional dentures and bridges
- Less expensive than replacing each tooth with a single implant
- Fixed in place- looks, feels, and functions more like natural teeth
- Ideal for patients with jawbone loss
There are also a few disadvantages you’ll want to consider when thinking about All-on-4 or All-on-6:
- Not fully customized
- Different results than with single dental implants
- Prosthetic may feel bulky
- Some patients hiss/spit when speaking
Cost of Replacing Missing Teeth
As you can see, there are several options for replacing your missing teeth. The least expensive option will be removable dentures. The most expensive will be to replace each tooth with a single dental implant. Your dental insurance may cover all or a portion of treatment. Our friendly office staff will work with your dental insurance provider to determine the level of coverage they offer.
We will also work with you on financing options. There are several ways that you can pay for your treatment without having to come out of pocket with the full amount all at once. Let us know what we can do for you!
Why Choose Schwartz Dentistry in Boca Raton?
Dr. Schwartz is one of two certified implantologists in Boca Raton. He received his certification in Implant Dentistry in 2001 from the American Board of Oral Implantology.
We offer a variety of dental services including general dentistry, dental implants, dentures, partials, root canals, crowns/bridges, wisdom teeth removal, and so much more. Our friendly staff will ensure that you are comfortable from the time you enter our facility.
You can start your treatment by scheduling your consultation. At that time, you will meet with Dr. Schwartz and the team. He will examine your mouth, do x-rays, find out more about your medical history, and then work with you to create a personalized treatment plan.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you are missing one or more teeth, schedule your consultation with Dr. Schwartz and the team at Schwartz Dentistry today. We are open Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. We are located at 37 SE 5th Street in Boca Raton. We are looking forward to meeting with you to help you replace your missing teeth and restoring your smile and your overall confidence and quality of life.
It is essential that you are staying on top of secure oral health to last for many years to come. As always, your dental care is our top priority! Contact us today to learn more!