Ask the Canton Dentist

On this page, our dentists answer many of the most common questions about your oral health and dental needs.  Many of the questions are taken from our facebook page or questions patients tend to ask in person.  If you have any questions yourself, feel free to message us on facebook, call us at (330) 484-6401, or if you have the time, feel free to stop by and ask us in person.  Your question may just show up on this page (anonymously, of course).

1. Q. What are the different ways I can fill in a missing tooth?

A. There are typically three ways to restore a tooth that has been extracted or has never grown in.  What is best for you depends on the location of the missing tooth, how many teeth are missing, how much bone you have in the area with the missing tooth, the amount of time and cost you are willing put into restoring your missing teeth, and the health and stability of the remaining teeth in your mouth.

               dental implant

1. Implant- The thought of placing a screw in bone with a replacement tooth on top of it may seem frightening at first, but implants have become very routine and predictable treatment options for our patients.  As long as the patient has enough bone and is healthy enough, implants are often an excellent and pain-free option to replace a missing tooth.  If a patient is a good candidate for implant placement, the process usually takes place over several months.   First, one or multiple implant screws are placed (near painlessly) in the bone.  The screws are allowed to heal over 4-5 months, during which time the bone grows around the implant and stabalizes them.  At the end of the healing phase, the dentist uncovers the top of the screw, takes an impression, and within two weeks, a post that is secured to the implant screw and crown (cap) is returned and placed in the patient's month.  Implant success rates (intact after 5 years) are over 95% and are a permanent, non-removable solution to missing teeth.  Implants can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even retain a full denture (especially important for a lower denture, which tends to be very unstable).

2. Bridge- Prior to implants becoming mainstream some twenty years ago, the only permanent way to replace a missing tooth was a bridge.  A bridge consists of the teeth immediately in front of AND behind the missing tooth being turned into crowns (caps).  A crown or cap is where the outermost layer of tooth is removed (1-1.5 mm) and covered by a porcelain or metal shell.  The two teeth on either side of the empty space are turned into crowns and a fake tooth is attached to both.  Thereby, the tooth replacement mimics an actual bridge like we drive over with supports at either side with the replacement tooth hanging just over the gums.  Bridges can be good options for patients who do not have the necesary bone or time for implants (a bridge typically can be completed in just two weeks over two appointments).  There are also some circumstances, particularly in the front of the mouth where there has been some bone loss, that bridges are more predictable and can look better than implants.  For a patient to be a good candidate for a bridge, they must have stable teeth on either side of the empty space.  The big downside of bridges, however, is that you must sometimes remove healthy tooth structure on the teeth next to the empty space, whereas implants general leave the adjacent teeth untouched.  Costwise, bridges tend to be slightly less expensive than implants.

Image result for removable partial denture

3. Partial or Full Removable Denture-  The last, and most compromised option to replace missing teeth is a removable denture (partial or full).  When cost is an issue, there are multiple missing teeth in various places, or you are not a candidate for either a bridge or implant, a removable denture may be an option.  A partial denture is composed of plastic replacement teeth and gums that slide into the empty spaces of the mouth and clasp onto existing natural teeth for stability.  Fabricating a denture takes three to four appointments and usually needs additional appointments to adjust rough or sore spots.  Unlike implants or bridges, dentures are removable and have much less stability and retention.  Their stability/retention depends on several things- upper dentures tend to be much more stable than lower dentures; the more teeth to clasp onto, the better; and the more bone you have, the greater the surface the denture has to sit on and so will be more stable.  Due to natural changes of the underlying bone in the mouth, however, dentures typically need replaced ever 7-10 years as they tend to fit less and less well over time.



Canton South Dental Group 330-484-6401 3702 Cleveland Avenue South Canton, OH 44707