Missing teeth aren’t fun. Okay, you’re probably better off without your wisdom
teeth, but otherwise gaps can cause problems for your gums, for eating and even
speaking clearly. Teeth either side can sometimes shift into the gap at an angle or
loosen. And if the gaps are visible when you smile, it can make you self-
conscious. You may feel like putting up with the loss of an odd molar, choosing to
grind your food on the other side, but once you’ve had a couple of teeth pulled, it’s
time to bridge those gaps!
Dentures have been around for a long time. As far back as 800BC, they were
being made from human and animal teeth in Italy. They’ve come a long way since
then, and are now made from acrylic resin, nylon, or metal. Depending on how
many teeth are missing, you will be fitted for a full or partial set. After your teeth
are pulled, impressions will be taken. Dentures are often ready soon after your
teeth are pulled, unless gums need to heal first. The good news is that you won’t
be toothless for very long, but the bad news is that as your mouth settles down,
your gums may shrink or change shape, meaning you’ll have to have the
dentures relined or even remade. This can also happen as you age, so one set of
dentures probably won’t last you a lifetime. Some people never get the perfect fit,
so they rely on cushioning pads and sticky gels to hold them in place. Ill-fitting /
loose dentures can fall out, and particles of food can get stuck underneath,
causing irritation. Despite the negatives, dentures are an affordable option.
In 1965, the first titanium implant was inserted into a human volunteer. The
procedure involves inserting a metal screw into the jawbone, at the site of the
missing tooth. Afterwards, time is needed to allow the bone to fuse with the screw.
Once that’s happened, a crown is put over the screw. The beauty of implants is
that they are permanent and totally secure. You can think of them as your own
teeth. With fastidious oral hygiene, your implants could last up to 15 and possibly
even 20 years. There is a slight risk of complications, such as peri-implant
mucositis, a treatable condition where your gums are red and swollen. But strictly
adhering to the recommended aftercare drastically reduces the occurrence of
complications. Unfortunately, not everyone is suitable for implants; your gums and
jaw must be healthy. And as implants are a big investment, they may not be the
best choice if you’re having quite a few teeth replaced. As dental implants require
invasive techniques, an oral surgeon must carry out the procedure.
If you have one, two or more teeth missing in a row, you can have a bridge fitted.
• Fixed bridge
The most common form is a fixed bridge, which consists of two crowns (to fit
over the teeth on either side of the gap, ie, anchor teeth) bonded to artificial
teeth in between. The downside to this type of bridge is that the anchor teeth
must be filed down and root canal treatment may be carried out.
• Implant-supported bridge
This type of bridge is suitable for those who don’t have sound anchor teeth.
Implants replace the anchor teeth, with artificial teeth in between. This is more
economical than having a series of individual implants.
• Bonded bridge
A bonded bridge is used to fill single gaps, and instead of crowns being used
for the anchor teeth, small wings of metal are bonded to the artificial tooth and
adjacent teeth. The advantage of a bonded bridge is that you don’t sacrifice
your good teeth, although the adhesive can weaken over time.
The choice of individual implants, dentures or a bridge comes down to several
• which replacement best suits your mouth
• the number of teeth you’re having replaced
• whether your priority is cost or convenience
If you’d like to fill those gaps, contact us at Ashby Dental in Wetherby. For a
limited time, we’re offering free implant consultations (worth £195).