If you're missing one tooth or several, you don't need to worry about your smile indefinitely. Today there are many options available for replacing that tooth or teeth, from implants to bridges and full dentures. If you're not sure which option is best for you, note a few questions you might ask your dentist on your next visit. This can help you work with him or her to determine the best choice for your everyday needs.
1. Ask how often the dental appliance may need to be removed
A dental implant is a permanent fixture that gets screwed into the gum line and jaw bone and stays there. Dental plates and bridges may need to be removed when eating certain foods and for cleaning. You need to think realistically about how comfortable you would be in taking these out and also if you can keep up with the schedule of cleaning them. If this becomes too much work for you or you know you would simply neglect certain appliances, ask your dentist about alternatives so you can ensure you care for them properly. Otherwise, opt for something that needs less work to maintain it.
2. Ask how often you may need to get the appliance refitted
If you're at high risk for bone loss, then you may need to get dentures refitted often. Bone loss will cause your face to change shape over time. If have a history of osteoporosis or other such conditions, you may be at a higher risk for bone loss, so a bridge or implant might be a better option than having your remaining teeth pulled and getting full dentures. A bridge may need less adjusting over time even as your face changes shape, and an implant will simply move with your jaw bone as it changes shape. Dentures, however, need to be refitted each time your face changes shape.
3. Ask if other teeth are at risk for being lost
If you've lost one tooth because of gum disease or poor oral hygiene, you might be at risk for losing other teeth. Implants may not be a good choice, as your gums may not be able to manage the discomfort of having several implants in a row. In these cases, a partial plate or bridge can be a better option. If you are at risk for having most of your other teeth lost, you might want to consider simply having them extracted now and choosing a full dental plate rather than having to constantly get a new bridge as other teeth are lost.