Nowadays people have quite a choice when it comes to find solutions to missing teeth. It’s not like 20 years ago, when all there was to choose from was dentures or bridges. These two solutions remain, but at the Dental Surgery Burnham, in Burnham, they have been joined by another important solution: the dental implant.
These are replacement teeth on a plate. You can get full dentures, which replace all the teeth on either the upper or lower jaw. Or you can get partial dentures, which replace just some of them. Dentures are removable, and, generally speaking, you take them out a night to clean them, and soak them in a glass of water to give your gums a rest. Your gums hold the dentures in place, through suction. The dentures are fitted tightly to the gums so they do not wobble around. This is harder on the lower jaw because the tongue can dislodge them. Dentures are either made of acrylic or injection moulded plastic with porcelain crowns. They can become looser over time as the gums and jawbone shrink when there are no longer any teeth in them. Dentures usually need to be replaced every 5–10 years.
Bridges are used to replace either one or a few missing teeth. They are called bridges because the teeth are fixed to a plate which is fixed between the two teeth adjacent to the gap. If this is on the upper jaw, then the bridge is suspended. The bridge is fixed in place and cannot be removed for cleaning. This means it doesn’t wobble around either, like dentures can. The downside of bridges is that having one means losing two decent, healthy teeth to become the buttresses at either end of the bridge. These are ground down to have the bridge fixed to them. Bridges need to be replaced about 7–10 years.
These replace the whole tooth, root and crown, via the insertion of titanium posts into the jawbone. These mesh with the jawbone and should last for the rest of your life. Initially, implants are more expensive than bridges and dentures, but they can work out to be comparable in price over time.