What Should I Do if I’m Missing a Single Tooth in a Very Visible Area?

Nov 02, 2018

What should I do if I’m missing a single tooth in a very visible area?

  1. Do nothing. You can embrace your inner hillbilly and just own it. Of course, this isn’t my favorite choice but finances and circumstances often play a role.
  2. Something removable. You can do a stayplate which is an all plastic retainer with one tooth attached and this works fairly well for about a year. We usually do this if we are waiting for healing or financing. It is relatively inexpensive compared to a metal-based removable partial denture which is basically the same as a stayplate but since it lasts longer and is harder to make, it’s much more expensive. For a single tooth, this is a bit overkill.
  3. A fixed bridge. Prepare the teeth behind and in front of the missing tooth for a crown. Remove about 1.5 millimeters circumferentially around the tooth and about the same reduction away from the bite (the top of the tooth). Place a thimble over each of the preparations and a bar connecting the two thimbles. Bake porcelain over both thimbles and the bar so that it looks like three natural teeth and cement it in place.
  4. Implant and implant supported crown. The surgeon places the implant in the bone and seals it up for three months while the implant and the bone integrate. Uncover it and send it to the cosmetic dentist who makes a crown to place over the implant.

The above choices are placed in increasing order of cost, but if you can afford it, get the implant. The implant is only a little more than the fixed bridge but the long-term durability is much better, and if it’s done right, it’s a better cosmetic result. Now it’s time for the disclaimer that you hear on TV commercials… Ask your dentist what’s right for you.