Restoring the Full Function of Your Teeth
Each type of tooth in your mouth has a different job, from biting into, cutting, or tearing food to chewing it. Teeth work together as a team to help you eat, speak, and express your emotions on a daily basis. Every tooth contributes to this amazing set of functions! In fact, all your teeth help and support each other.
At Barr and Diachenko, we love to emphasize the importance of each tooth and the relationship between them. Losing just one tooth begins to impact this harmony. Over time, your remaining teeth shift into the gap left by your missing tooth, and this changes the way they fit together and makes it harder for you to clean them properly. But this is why we are here! Nobody has to live with a missing tooth.
Restorative dentistry can restore your teeth and all its wonderful benefits, protecting your oral health for years to come. If you’re just starting to look into tooth replacement options, however, you may be overwhelmed and uncertain which treatment is best for you. To help you decide, here’s a breakdown of your tooth replacement options.
Tooth Replacement with Partial and Removable Dentures
When you’ve lost many or all of your teeth, dentures are a common and effective way to restore their function and appearance. Dentures come in a surprising range of options, including partial dentures, removable dentures, and implant-supported dentures. They include an acrylic base that mimics the appearance of your gums and prosthetic teeth that are made of a hard resin or porcelain material. Partial dentures can replace multiple missing teeth and are often held in place using discreet clasps attached to your healthy teeth. With a little practice, these clasps can be easily undone to remove the dentures for cleaning or sleeping.
In contrast, removable dentures are used to replace all of the teeth in your mouth and are largely held in place by suction. They have a reputation in comedy for falling out frequently, but dentures that fit properly shouldn’t do this. Due to continued bone loss in your jaw, however, they will need to be evaluated and potentially adjusted every year to ensure they continue to fit comfortably and don’t slip. Partial and removable dentures both look realistic, restoring your confidence and much of your ability to eat and speak normally. Sticky or chewy foods can cause removable dentures to slip free, however, so you should still be careful about what you eat.
It takes several appointments over the course of a few weeks to get partial or removable dentures. Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko will begin by taking a mold of your teeth or gums, which will be used to create your dentures. You’ll also be able to work with your dentist to choose the shade, shape, and size of your new teeth, ensuring that you love your new smile once your treatment is complete. Your dentist will make several test sets of dentures so that you can ensure the final version looks and feels as natural as possible. Once your final dentures arrive, Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko will let you try them at our office, make adjustments if necessary, and send you home with care instructions for your new smile.
Although they’re also used to replace all of your teeth, implant-supported dentures are very different from traditional dentures. They’re supported by dental implants, which are made from titanium and embedded into your jaw so that they function like natural tooth roots. As a result, implant-supported dentures restore the appearance and function of your natural teeth in a way that other dentures simply can’t match. They allow you to eat just like you would with your natural teeth and actively prevent bone loss in your jaw. They do this by stimulating your jawbone like natural tooth roots do so that your body doesn’t reabsorb the bone there. Implants even restore some bone loss because titanium encourages bone growth. This protects your natural face shape and keeps your jawbone strong.
Getting dental implants takes several procedures over the course of six months or more. Most of this time is due to the fact that you’ll need to recover for a few weeks to a few months between each procedure, all of which work together to help you gain the next best thing to getting your natural teeth back. During the first procedure, Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko will place the titanium rods in your jaw. After you’ve healed for a few months, you’ll have a second procedure to add the abutments on top of the metal rods. This is where your dentures will later be secured. You’ll need to heal for another few weeks, after which an impression or digital scan will be taken of your mouth. This will be used to make your new dentures; like other types of dentures, you’ll be able to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth. Once your complete dentures arrive at our office, your dentist will secure them in place and make sure they fit perfectly before sending you home with your refreshed smile.
Tooth Replacement with Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are more commonly used to repair and protect teeth that have been severely damaged by decay or injury. It’s always better for your long-term oral health—and your wallet—to save your natural tooth by placing a crown on top of it. When a tooth is too damaged to be saved, however, dental crowns have another use: they can be secured to a dental implant to replace a single missing tooth. This method of replacing a single missing tooth prevents your healthy teeth from shifting, protecting them from tooth decay and gum disease, and prevents bone loss in your jaw. Crowns are made from durable porcelain that can be tinted to match the shade of your healthy teeth. You’re also able to choose the crown’s size and shape to ensure that your crown blends in with the rest of your smile perfectly.
When you receive a dental crown on an implant, the process for receiving your implant is the same as always. Once again, it’ll take several months because you will need time to heal between procedures. Once it’s time to design and place your crown, Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko can use our CEREC system to take a digital scan of your teeth. This creates a 3D digital image of your bite, which we will use to design your dental crown to ensure it fits perfectly. In some cases, we can use our CEREC system to design, print, and place your new crown on the same day.
Tooth Replacement with Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are a popular treatment to replace one or two missing teeth in a row. They have a dental crown on either end that supports one or two replacement teeth between them. Traditional dental bridges are supported by placing these crowns over the two healthy teeth on either side of the gap in your smile. This fills the gap, protecting your oral health by preventing your teeth from shifting into it while restoring the appearance and function of your teeth. Dental bridges are made from durable porcelain, so they can be designed around your preferences for the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth. This durable material pairs with the deep-rooted support of your natural teeth to provide the restoration with added stability and strength, making it easier to eat naturally.
When you get a dental bridge, Dr. Barr or Dr. Diachenko will first shave down the teeth that will be fitted with crowns. Once this is done, they will take a mold or digital scan of your teeth, which they’ll use to design your bridge. Traditionally, your bridge will need to be sent to an outside lab to be made. You’ll be fitted with a temporary bridge for a couple of weeks while you wait for your permanent bridge to arrive. In some cases, our CEREC system can be used to design, mill, and place your bridge right away, completing the entire process in a single appointment. Once it’s time to place your bridge, your dentist will place it on your teeth and check your bite to ensure it’s in the right position before cementing it in place. Dental bridges can also be used to replace three or four teeth when they’re placed on dental implants. This process looks very similar to the process to place implant-supported dentures and provides similar additional benefits.
When you’ve lost one or more teeth, wading through the many treatment options to discover which one is right for you can feel overwhelming. With so many options, however, you’re guaranteed to find a treatment that fits your needs and your budget. If you still have lingering questions about the tooth replacement options we offer or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to call our office at any time.