A dental implant is the best tooth replacement option available. It looks like a natural tooth, functions like a natural tooth, and, like a natural tooth, can last a lifetime if properly cared for. And almost everyone is a good candidate for a dental implant.
However, one situation where you might not be able to get a dental implant is if there is not enough room in your smile gap for the implant. How can we restore your smile, then? We have several options.
One potential option is to try to close the gap using only orthodontics. After all, we know the gap between teeth is relatively small, so why not just eliminate the hole in your smile by bringing teeth together. This can work in some cases, but it has many limitations.
First, all our teeth are different, and bringing teeth together in the position where a different shape of tooth should be can look weird. Maybe your teeth aren’t as different as some people’s, or perhaps we can do enough reshaping to make it look normal, but that is uncommon.
Another problem is that shifting your teeth to close the gap may break the symmetry of your smile. Ideally, your smile should have the same centerline as your face. Shifting teeth to close a smile gap can move the centerline off. Although it may close the gap, it may make your smile look imbalanced.
Orthodontics and Implant
However, we can also use orthodontics to create the necessary space for your dental implant. This works best when your teeth aren’t too crowded. We might close gaps elsewhere in your smile to help create the necessary space.
The main drawback of this approach is time. It can take six months, a year, or even more to move your teeth and create the space. Then we have to go through the implant process, which itself can take several months (although many people can have an attractive restoration placed on the implant the day of surgery). But the benefit is that you have a dental implant at the end, which, as we said is the best tooth replacement option available.
Another option is to create a dental bridge for the gap. A dental bridge is made up of three units: a replacement tooth attached to dental crowns that fit over adjacent teeth. These are good, durable restorations, but they can be vulnerable to bite forces. Because the gap in this case is narrow, that might not be as big an issue.
Another issue is that the bridge doesn’t stimulate the jawbone under it, so the body might remove bone, causing the gums to recede and creating an unattractive space under the bridge.
However, that might take years–if it even happens–and in the meantime the bridge can be an attractive and fully functional restoration. Plus, this restoration can be placed quickly–often in under a month.
Finally, you might decide to do nothing about the gap in your smile. This is an option, but it can lead to other complications. You might have difficulty cleaning and maintaining the teeth next to the gap. You might also notice that your other teeth are drifting, which can lead to additional gaps in your smile that can make it look unhealthy overall. In some cases, a gap like this can speed the loss of nearby teeth.
Not Sure What to Do about Your Lost Tooth?
If you have lost a tooth and you’re not sure what to do, let us help. At élan, implant dentist Dr. Meghan Hodges and her skilled team can design several treatment plans for you, and then you can decide which one best fits your immediate and long-term goals.
To talk to us about your missing tooth, please call (918) 528-3330 today for an appointment.