Family/Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry

Missing Teeth Options



What happens if I lose a tooth or one breaks down and fails?  

  • Uneven chewing ability…unstable bite…
  • Added stress to remaining teeth…
  • Possibility of bone loss and change in facial appearance (bone resorption)…
  • Opposing teeth drift...

Whether you lose a tooth due to an accident, gum disease or decay, that tooth is no longer helping to evenly distribute the forces among the remaining teeth.  As a result, the remaining teeth take on more forces than normal, which may cause more fractures and loss of other teeth over a person's lifetime.  After losing a tooth, you may tend to favor the side with the most teeth, thus creating a shift in your remaining teeth that could lead to an unstable bite.  Then over time, the bone where the tooth was lost will begin the process of resorption.  Bone resorption or “bone loss” can cause facial and jaw structural changes which would affect your appearance.  Waiting too long to replace the missing tooth could also be problematic as the remaining teeth will begin shifting, closing the gap between them.  These factors can significantly complicate and increase the complexity and costs of fixing the space.

How does the loss of only one tooth, or just a few teeth, compromise facial structures?

  • When you lose a tooth in the front of your mouth, where the bone is very thin, the bone will usually start to melt away rather quickly, giving the appearance that the bone and gums are caving in, or collapsing. Very often, this defect is visible when smiling and many people become self-conscious about their appearance as a result.

  • As the bone resorbs, the opposing teeth start to drift causing your bite to be off.


  • Unfortunately, when a tooth is replaced by a bridge or denture, the process of bone resorption doesn't stop.  Though the opposing teeth won't drift, over time, the replacement tooth will begin to look fake and the gums and bone above it will begin to collapse, leaving the tooth hanging...or looking suspended.


Okay, so what are my options
to replace my missing teeth?


  • Removable bridge or denture.  The removable bridge, flipper, denture, or stay plate are all forms of the same appliance which can be removed from the person's mouth and placed back in when eating and speaking. The main advantage of these devices is the relatively inexpensive cost and with constant wear, can prevent the teeth it supports from drifting.  However, they can vary in comfort and the wearer may have trouble adapting to a removable appliance.  Also, it doesn't address the problem with bone resorption.  Over time, as the bone recedes, the denture will need to be adjusted and/or replaced and will become less and less effective and less comfortable for the wearer.


  •  Fixed Bridge- The adjacent teeth next to the space are prepared for crowns or “caps” and a false tooth is created in between the two prepared teeth.  This has been the treatment of choice for many years because of the ability for this device to be permanently stationed in the mouth and it keeps the teeth it supports from drifting. Unfortunately, even if the adjacent teeth are relatively healthy, the dentist will still have to drill into (or prepare) the neighboring teeth to be outfitted with crowns that will support the false tooth.  In addition, a bridge creates more difficulty for the person to keep the area clean which can lead to further gum problems and the possibility remains there may be bone resorption.


  • Implants -  What has become the tooth replacement of choice is the dental implant.  A dental implant is a titanium root that is placed directly into the bone area of the missing tooth.  A crown is then placed on top to resemble and function just like a real tooth.  Several advantages include that it is permanent, healthy neighboring teeth do not have to be drilled on, it prevents shifting of teeth and you can clean and floss it like the other teeth.   Also, unlike the prior traditional methods, an implant helps avoid bone loss at the site of the missing tooth (bone resorption).  It feels like you have your natural tooth back.   
Are you missing multiple teeth? - There are different options to replace teeth with implants.  Either by placing an implant and implant crown for every missing tooth, or by using an implant 'supported' appliance like those shown here:

What are some of the benefits experienced by people with dental implants?

  • Enhanced quality of life.
  • Preservation of the integrity of facial structure.
  • A mouth restored as close as possible to its natural state.
  • Adjacent teeth are not compromised to replace missing teeth.
  • Replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth.
  • Increased stability and a sense of security that teeth will not fall out when eating, laughing or sneezing.
  • Improved health due to improved nutrition and proper digestion.
  • Restored self-esteem and renewed self-confidence.
  • Improved appearance.
  • Improved ability to taste foods.
  • Increased convenience of hygiene and elimination of adhesives.

What does it cost and will my insurance cover it?

The fees vary depending on the procedure you choose.  Dental plans will often cover a share of the cost, but you will incur some of that expense.  We can submit a pre-authorization to your dental plan to find out how your coverage works.  We also have financing options that can make dentistry very affordable.  Please call us for a free consultation to discuss your options.

Why does bone loss result from tooth loss?  What is bone resorption and why does it happen?

Natural tooth roots are embedded in the jawbone, providing a stable foundation that allows the teeth to function properly. When teeth are lost or extracted, the bone that previously supported those teeth no longer serves a purpose and begins to deteriorate, or resorb.

How can this bone loss be prevented?

Dental implants are substitute tooth roots, providing the same function as natural tooth roots, including stimulating the bone, thereby preserving it and preventing the bone loss that would normally occur with tooth loss. The jawbone actually forms a bond with the dental implants, creating a stable foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth.