Having a missing tooth, or teeth, can have a significant impact on your life. Of course, it interferes with function and makes it difficult to eat. But missing teeth can also throw a wrench in your confidence. You might find yourself trying not to smile or turning your head a certain way when talking to people, so no one can see the gap. Honestly, it’s stressful, and you deserve to be able to smile, laugh, speak and eat with confidence again.
That’s where I come in! At Nest Dental, my team and I offer a variety of teeth replacement options, including dental bridges, dentures and dental implants in Vancouver, BC.
Why You Should Replace Missing Teeth
When missing teeth aren’t replaced:
- The tooth-supporting bone in that area is no longer stimulated by biting and chewing. This signals to your body that it’s not being used and, over time, the section of jawbone atrophies and is resorbed. This bone loss affects the strength and integrity of your jaw, potentially leading to further tooth loss.
- The spaces left behind by missing teeth make it harder to keep your mouth clean. Plus, food debris gets caught in gaps. All of this means an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Eating is more difficult. You may have to avoid certain foods and the limitations in your diet can impact your overall health.
- The remaining teeth bear the brunt of your biting forces, so they’ll wear down prematurely.
- The other teeth have a tendency to shift into the empty space. The shifting alters your bite (the way the upper and lower teeth come together), which can result in further difficulties with chewing, as well as jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, headaches and changes in your appearance. It can also mean needing orthodontic treatment to make space for an implant or bridge if you decide to replace the tooth down the road.
- Your face might start to sag, making you look older. This is because the jaw and teeth provide support for your facial features. In cases where several or all of the teeth are missing, the jawbone shrinkage can cause what’s known as facial collapse, which is when the face sinks in and develops a shriveled appearance.
Your Tooth Replacement Options
Now that you know why you should replace missing teeth, it’s on to how. As a Vancouver general dentist, I always start the process by taking diagnostic records and performing an exam.
Then, I chat with you about your smile goals, health and dental history, lifestyle and needs, so I can help you decide on the best way to replace your missing tooth, or teeth.
Your options could include:
A Dental Bridge
A dental bridge usually consists of three dental crowns. Two of the crowns are bonded to the teeth on either side of the gap, referred to as the abutment teeth. These crowns support the crown in the middle, called the pontic, which replaces the missing tooth.
If you have more than one tooth missing, I can add additional crowns and/or abutment teeth, depending on where they’re located in your mouth.
The Dental Bridge Procedure
Getting a dental bridge takes about two appointments. I’ll numb the treatment area with a local anesthetic (you can also opt for sedation if you’re feeling anxious!) and then prepare the abutment teeth by shaping them to fit under the crowns. A team member will take digital impressions before I place a temporary bridge.
The lab will craft a custom, high quality bridge that looks, fits and functions like your natural teeth. When it’s ready, you’ll come in for your second visit. I’ll remove the temporary, clean the teeth and place your permanent bridge. After taking quick digital x-rays to ensure it fits, I’ll cement the crowns onto the abutment teeth and make any necessary adjustments.
Pros of a Dental Bridge:
- Highly aesthetic
- Convenient since it doesn’t need to be taken in and out
- The process only takes a week or two
- Lets you chew with confidence
- Durable and long lasting
- Preserves your bite and prevents the remaining teeth from shifting into the gap
- Supports the lips and cheeks
- Doesn’t require much extra care, aside from using a floss threader
- A dental bridge costs less than an implant
Cons of a Dental Bridge:
- Requires removing enamel from healthy teeth (the abutment teeth)
- More expensive than a removable prosthesis
- Bone loss will still occur in the section where the tooth is missing
A dental implant is a little titanium screw that’s surgically placed in the jawbone. It fuses with the bone and acts as the missing tooth’s root structure. After a healing period, a lifelike permanent crown is attached to the implant.
When comparing a dental bridge vs. implant, yup, they both look great and are fixed in place. But instead of being supported by abutment teeth, your new tooth will be supported by the implant. Since the implant functions like a tooth’s root, it’s the only tooth replacement option that stimulates the jawbone and prevents bone loss.
Dental implants are very versatile. Depending on your case, I can do a single implant to replace one missing tooth or multiple dental implants if you have a few missing teeth. I can even use implants to support bridges or dentures for added stability.
The Dental Implant Procedure
If you’re a candidate, my team and I do offer same-day dental implants but, in most cases, the dental implant process is spread over months. After a tooth is lost or extracted and a bone graft is placed, if needed, you’ll have dental implant surgery.
I use computerized treatment planning to determine the precise placement of the implant beforehand. During the procedure, I’ll inject a local anesthetic and, if you want, administer sedation. Then, I’ll surgically embed the implant into your jawbone.
The implant is allowed to heal for several months so that it can fuse with the bone. Once it heals, I’ll take digital impressions and the lab will create a custom permanent crown. When it’s ready, I’ll attach the crown to the implant and it will look, feel and work just like a real tooth.
Pros of Dental Implants:
- The most aesthetic and natural-looking option
- Doesn’t need to be taken in and out
- Allows you to eat and chew any and all foods
- Can last a lifetime with proper care
- Offers maximum stability since it integrates with your own bone
- Maintains the alignment of your other teeth
- Prevents jawbone loss
- Doesn’t require any extra care
- Maintains facial structure and jaw size to ward off facial sagging
- Doesn’t require removing enamel from the adjacent teeth
Cons of a Dental Implant:
- Dental implants cost more than other options
- Takes several months to complete the process
Removable dentures are an economical way to replace missing teeth. I use modern materials and treatment planning to create dentures that look natural and feel comfortable.
At Nest, we offer full dentures to replace all of the teeth in the upper and/or lower arch and removable partial dentures to replace one or more missing teeth. Dentures can restore your confidence and help you avoid nutritional deficiencies by allowing you to chew your food.
The Removable Dentures Procedure
A Nest Dental team member will take digital scans of your mouth. The scans will be sent to a dental lab, so they can create a base for your dentures. I’ll work closely with the lab technician to fabricate natural-looking prosthetic teeth.
Usually, you’ll start off wearing temporary dentures to make sure you like how they look and feel. When you’ve acclimated to wearing the dentures, I’ll create your permanent full or partial dentures for you. When they’re ready, you’ll try them on and I’ll assess the fit, appearance and function and make any needed adjustments.
Pros of Removable Dentures:
- The least expensive of the teeth replacement options
- They’ll look natural and help you smile with confidence
- Helps with chewing and speaking properly
- Provides support for your lips, cheeks and facial structures to help you look healthier and more youthful
- Partial dentures will maintain alignment of your remaining teeth and stop shifting
Cons of Removable Dentures:
- You’ll have to take them in and out
- They require extra care
- There is an adjustment period
- Dentures can slip and may cause irritation
- They won’t prevent bone loss
- You’ll have to be careful about eating really hard foods
Implant-supported dentures are more stable and secure than removable dentures. I place a few dental implants and your replacement teeth are attached to them after a healing period. Implant-supported dentures are usually used for an entire upper and/or lower arch of teeth.
This option strikes a good balance of stability, aesthetics and affordability. Your dentures won’t slip and slide, the results will look natural and you’ll get the oral health-promoting benefits of dental implants without the cost of placing individual implants for each missing tooth.
Implant-Supported Dentures Procedure
Getting implant-supported dentures starts with the dental implant procedure. I’ll numb the treatment areas with local anesthetic and you can opt for dental sedation. During the dental implant surgery, I’ll strategically place four to six dental implants into your jawbone. Sometimes, when converting existing lower dentures, you may only need two implants!
You’ll wear transitional dentures for several months while you heal and the implants fuse with the jawbone. During this time, I’ll work with the lab to create your permanent prosthetic teeth. When healing is complete, the permanent replacement teeth will be secured to your dental implants, restoring your smile.
Pros of Implant-Supported Dentures
- Implant-supported dentures cost less than getting dental implants for each missing tooth
- Less bulky and more comfortable and natural-looking than removable dentures
- They won’t slip, slide or fall out
- The implants help prevent jawbone loss, which preserves your oral health and appearance
- You’ll be able to chew and eat a wider range of foods
- They don’t require extra care
Cons of Implant-Supported Dentures
- More expensive than removable dentures
- You will have to wait several months while your implants fuse with the jawbone before getting your permanent replacement teeth (in the meantime, you can wear transitional dentures)
How Much Does Replacing Teeth Cost?
The cost will vary depending on the treatment you choose, how many teeth you want to replace and your individual case. When making a decision, it’s also important to factor in the long-term costs and quality of life improvements. For example, though the cost of dental implants in BC will be higher than the cost of removable dentures, implants are more comfortable, stable, convenient and promote better oral health.
I’ll work with you to decide which teeth replacement options will be best for your smile and lifestyle and give you a breakdown of all fees upfront. And to make care more accessible, Nest Dental accepts most insurance and offers in-office financing plans.
Interested in Dentures, Bridges or Dental Implants in Vancouver, BC?
If you’re ready to weigh your teeth replacement options, book your dentist appointment online or schedule a visit by calling us at (604) 200-0769.
At our beautiful, modern dental studio on Fraser Street, you’ll find technology, private treatment suites and amenities like a custom entertainment experience. Don’t be surprised when you actually like coming in for visits during your smile makeover at Nest!