When you have to have one or more teeth removed – or you suffer tooth loss or broken teeth from trauma it spurs a series of questions. Luckily there are plenty of options, and there is a right answer for your specific situation.

Here are the most common questions that patients ask dentists regarding replacement of missing teeth:

Should I have a partial denture?

If multiple teeth are missing and your budget is limited, then a removable partial denture is a good option for replacing teeth. It acts to prevent tooth movement that would make permanent replacement in the future problematic. However, keep in mind that a partial denture has metal clips, and denture teeth need to be removed from the mouth for six to eight hours a day to prevent yeast infections. Some partials are all plastic and sit only on the gums.

Will a partial denture hurt my teeth?

Yes, over time the clasps that engage the teeth will exert pressure on the teeth, which makes them flex and predisposes them to fracture. Also, the movement under a partial during chewing will lead to friction and bone loss under the partial denture plastic saddles. Studies have shown that 60 percent of people with partial dentures are not wearing them four years after they are made.

Can I use a bridge to replace a missing tooth?

A bridge is a tooth replacement that requires reducing tooth structure on both sides of the space and making an all-porcelain (zirconia) or porcelain-fused-to-metal bridge that will hold the teeth on each side of the space.

Are bridges permanent?

Yes, they cannot be removed. The advantage of a bridge is that they are beautiful and long lasting. The downside is that by reducing tooth structure on the adjacent teeth, you are performing an irreversible procedure on these teeth. This tooth reduction can lead to sensitivity, which requires root canal therapy to remove inflamed nerves. That means that for the rest of your life, these teeth must be covered with crowns.

How long does a bridge last?

Typically an insurance company will pay to replace a bridge every five years. On average, a bridge should last seven to 10 years or even longer if cared for properly.

What would make a bridge fail?

If you don’t floss under a bridge daily, you can develop periodontal disease or cavities, which can cause your bridge to fail.

How do I prevent failure of a bridge?

Use a water pick, dental floss and fluoride gel to help clean, protect and maintain your bridge. It is also crucial to have the dentist check the bite or occlusion on the bridge to make sure it isn’t hitting harder than the adjacent teeth or causing premature wear on the opposing teeth.

Are all the bridges the same?

No, there is a wide range of bridges, and the quality depends on which lab makes them. For example, boutique dental labs can be quite a bit more expensive than large labs. While bridges are generally all made to fit, the level of beauty and the overall fit can be influenced by the quality of the lab and the price paid to fabricate them. You often get what you pay for.

Can I replace my missing tooth with a dental implant?

Yes. A dental implant is a screw-type device made out of titanium alloy, which is placed into the space where the tooth was lost. Dental implants have success rates from 88 to 95 percent. The advantage of a dental implant is that you don’t have to shave down adjacent teeth. The teeth are not connected, so regular flossing can take place just like when your original tooth was present. The disadvantage of an implant is that it is a surgical procedure, though usually painless. Dental implants are allowed to heal, and then a chimney or abutment is screwed into the implant and a crown is fabricated to screw or cement into the implant.