If you’re missing one or more teeth in the front of your mouth, where it’s plain to see when you open your mouth to smile and speak, then it is probably obvious that there are some benefits in having those teeth replaced. But even if you’re missing teeth in the back of your mouth – where no one would ever know whether or not you have teeth – there are still important reasons why you should work with your Austin, Texas dentist to find a way to replace missing teeth.
The Consequences of Living with Missing Teeth
One of the easiest, most cost effective ways to replace missing back teeth is with a partial denture. These appliances consist of crowns that are typically made from either porcelain or acrylic, which are mounted onto some type of a base made to match your natural gum tissue. At the end of each set of teeth is a metal frame with brackets on the end that attach your existing front teeth. Partials are not only completely natural-looking, they also help to ensure that you can chew your food properly and that your other teeth don’t shift in your mouth to fill in the gaps left behind by your missing teeth. If you and your dentist decide that a partial to replace your back teeth is the right solution for you, there are different types to choose from:
- Metal removable partial dentures – The most common type of partial denture is the one with crowns mounted onto a rigid metal frame with metal clasps on each end that attach to existing natural teeth.
- Acrylic removable partial dentures – Also referred to as “flippers,” this type of partial denture features false teeth that are set into a gum-colored acrylic base with a “flipper” that attaches to existing natural teeth using clasps. Although this type of partial is the least expensive, it’s also often the least comfortable since the acrylic base tends to be bulky in order for it to be strong enough to adequately hold the replacement teeth.
- Flexible partial dentures – Generally considered to be the most comfortable type of appliance, the flexible partial denture consists of artificial teeth that are attached with gum-colored clasps that fit snugly into the natural spaces around existing teeth. Flexible partials are usually the more expensive choice of all the different types, but many patients believe they are well worth the extra money simply because they are so comfortable and natural-feeling to wear.
Other Options to Replace Missing Back Teeth
While partials are one of the most common replacements for missing teeth, there are alternative methods available as well.
- Fixed bridge – This appliance is made from artificial replacement teeth mounted onto a frame with a crown on each end. The crowns are permanently cemented to the patient’s existing natural teeth, which means the bridge is “fixed,” or not removable by the patient. Assuming you have existing natural teeth that are strong enough and healthy enough to accept the crowns, a fixed bridge is a good option for teeth used to chew food – such as the molars in the back of your mouth.
- Implant-supported fixed bridge – If you don’t have existing natural teeth that are strong enough to accommodate the crowns that come with a traditional fixed bridge, you may choose an implant-supported fixed bridge instead. These appliances are held in place by dental implants, which consist of tiny metal rods that are inserted into the patient’s jawbone, allowed to fuse with the bone tissue, and completed when a crown is attached to the top of the implanted metal rod. Implants are extremely strong and permanent, so they provide an excellent means of anchoring bridges (and even dentures) for patients. Similar to traditional fixed bridges, implant-supported fixed bridges are non-removable by the patient.
- Dental implants – If you have just one or a few teeth missing from the back of your mouth, you might also consider replacing them with dental implants. As described above, implants are often an excellent choice to replace one or more missing teeth, especially teeth in the back of the mouth, which need to be strong enough to chew food adequately. The implant procedure usually takes several months to complete, but most patients are pleased with the results since implants not only look just like natural teeth, they can also last for the lifetime of the patient if they are properly cared for. Implants can be a great choice, but you’ll need to have an adequate amount of jawbone tissue present to accommodate the implant. If you don’t, your dentist might recommend a bone grafting procedure ahead of time to make certain your jawbone can adequately hold the implant.
If you are missing back teeth, contact your Austin, Texas dentist today to find out what types of partial dentures for back teeth are available, as well as other tooth-replacement options that might work for you. Whichever method you choose, the most important thing is to replace your missing teeth as soon as possible, so call to make your dental consultation appointment today!