College of Dentistry Patient Care: Missing A Tooth
The replacement of a single missing tooth can be accomplished in a number of ways. If there is a healthy tooth on both sides of the space, a bridge (or fixed partial denture) might be a good choice. In these cases, caps or crowns are placed on the teeth on either side of the space with a false tooth in the middle. This is called a 3 unit bridge because it restores 3 teeth and is cemented so it stays in place. It is possible to replace several missing teeth using this technique depending on the position and strength of the teeth in your mouth. Patients who have bridges in their mouth are instructed to clean under the false teeth every day.
Another good choice for some is the placement of an implant. Implants are increasing in popularity although getting an implant requires minor surgery to place the implant into bone. The implant takes the place of the tooth root and the part that sticks out of the gums receives a crown just like a regular tooth.
Replacement of a single missing tooth will prevent the other teeth in the arch from tipping forward. It will also keep the opposing tooth from protruding into the mouth. Your dentist will help you to decide which treatment is best for you.
Missing Several Teeth
When you have several missing teeth in your mouth the best choice for you may be a removable partial denture or RPD. The RPD is made to clasp on to your teeth and rest on the ridges where the teeth are missing. The teeth are matched to the same shape and color of your regular teeth.
The RPD is normally made of metal and plastic. As the name implies, the RPD goes in and comes out of the mouth. It will hold the other teeth in position and help to keep the opposing teeth from protruding into the mouth. It will also give you more chewing surfaces for eating.