When teeth are lost, the appearance of a the person is lost as the lips collapse inward and gives the patient an "old person's look". Plaque and decay can occur much quicker, leading to loss of more teeth.
When a tooth is lost, the neighboring teeth shift to compensate for the vacant spaces thus changing the biting pattern and also creating spaces in the natural dentition. This causes reduction in the chewing efficiency and often the jaw joint may be affected.
Thus it is important to replace any missing tooth as soon as possible. False teeth are called dentures and if they are fixed to adjacent teeth they are called bridges.
Modern dentistry provides for 3 main options:
- Fixed Bridge
- Removable dentures
Are small titanium screws placed surgically in the bone and a denture is fixed to these screws. They take approximately 6-9 months to complete but are the best form of tooth replacement there is at the present . They are very expensive as the whole kit is imported. Chewing efficiency is equal if not better as compared to natural teeth and the appearance is also the best. The adjacent tooth is not touched at all as the titanium implant is placed in the bone itself. The only drawback of implants is the cost - if you can afford it - then there is no comparison - implants are the best way to replace missing teeth.
A fixed bridge is an artificial tooth cemented to the adjacent tooth (cannot be removed by you). They are firmly fixed and thus more efficient in chewing food. Basically the adjacent teeth are ground down by a millimeter and an impression is taken and a bridge is made in the lab and this is then cemented to the teeth. Many people prefer this as they are fixed and there is very little chance of them falling out. They are slightly more costly than the removable dentures but still very much affordable.
Are made of acrylic (plastic) or metal. They are basically false teeth that sit on the gums and take support from remaining natural teeth. They are cheap to make. They however need to be removed after every meal and cleaned. They also provide only approx 60% chewing efficiency.