Restorative Dentistry: Dentures Bridges and Implants! Oh MY!


When one of our patients comes in with a missing tooth, they typically have a lot of questions. So, we thought we’d try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions relating to dentures bridges and implants here.

Why should I replace missing teeth?

Our patients always realize that a missing tooth affects their appearance; however, that’s not the only reason we should discuss tooth replacement options. Here are 3 main reasons:

  • Your appearance.
  • The gap left by a missing tooth can mean more strain is put on the teeth at either side.
  • A gap can also mean your ‘bite’ is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and change the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes tooth decay and gum disease.

Related Article: Avoid Tooth Extraction: Can Your Tooth Be Saved?

What happens if I don’t replace my missing tooth quickly?

When a tooth is lost, the bone that used to support it disappears quickly. This leads to shifting teeth, tooth trauma and periodontal disease, aging of facial features and unnatural gums around a future tooth replacement, lack of bone support for future tooth replacement.

How are missing teeth replaced?

This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are located in your mouth. The condition of the remaining teeth also affects the decision.

There are three main ways to replace missing teeth: dentures bridges and implants:

  1. Partial or Full Denture: removable false tooth (or teeth)
  2. Fixed Bridge: prosthetic tooth that will be attached to the crowned teeth that surround the missing tooth
  3. Dental Implant: an artificial root is placed into the bone of the jaw and a crown or bridge is placed on top
Let’s explain dentures bridges and implants in a little more depth …

Partial or Full Denture

We fit dentures to replace all or some of the teeth in the upper and/or lower jaw. Dentures improve your confidence when you smile, as well as the clarity of your speech and your ability to chew. Modern dentures provide a firm hold and natural appearance to ensure maximum comfort and function.
  • Partial Denture: This is a plate with one or more false teeth on it. It may be all plastic or a mixture of metal and plastic. Both types may have clips (clasps) to help keep the denture in place in your mouth. Depending on where they are, some of these clips may show when you smile or open your mouth.
  • Full Denture: Full dentures are a set of custom-made removable replacements for missing teeth. Usually, they require all of the teeth in the upper and/or lower half of the mouth to be removed; after removal, the gums must heal over before the dentures can be fitted.
Fixed Bridge

What happens to a gap left behind in your mouth from a lost tooth? You can fill that gap with a fixed bridge. A fixed bridge is a prosthetic tooth that will be attached to the crowned teeth surrounding your missing tooth. Fixed bridges come in different styles, such as a surgically-implanted prosthetic, or a removable denture. No matter what you choose, your fixed bridge will fill the gap left behind from a missing tooth, as well as correct a misaligned bite and prevent your other teeth from changing position in your mouth. 

Dental Implant

Dental implants act like artificial roots that can be permanently placed in the patient’s jaw bone. As the gum tissue and bone grow around the dental implant, they become a permanent anchor. A natural-looking porcelain crown will be made giving our patients a beautifully finished result that is attractive, yet helps to improve chewing, maintain bone and prevent teeth from changing positions. Dental implants can even prevent future problems with a patient’s bit.

Dental implants offer a permanent replacement for missing teeth and an effective solution that will look and feel as natural as your original teeth.

When are dentures the best option?

Dentures and partial dentures are removable appliances that replace teeth when implants and bridges are not an option. They can be supported by remaining healthy teeth, implants, or they can replace all teeth. We treat all of our denture patients like Cosmetic Smile Makeover patients because we are restoring a patient’s smile.

How are dentures made?

We start by taking a series of photographs of our patients face from many different angles. Then we take accurate impressions of the patient’s teeth and their current bite. After careful study and planning we turn our information over to our laboratory artist, Troy Phinney, who is an absolute genius at making a custom set of teeth that fit great and look real.

How do I care for my denture?

  • Dentures may break if you drop them. Always clean your denture over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop it.
  • To clean your dentures, brush and soak them every day. Brush your dentures first, to help remove any bits of food. Use a non-abrasive denture cleaner, not toothpaste. Be careful not to scrub too hard as this may cause grooves in the surface.
  • Make sure you brush all the surfaces of the dentures, including the surface that fits against your gums. This is especially important if you use any kind of denture fixative.
  • Soak your dentures every day in a denture-cleaning solution. This will help remove any plaque and stubborn stains that are left. It will also help to disinfect your dentures, leaving them feeling fresher. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t keep your dentures in overnight unless there are specific reasons for you to keep them in.
  • If you notice a build-up of stains or scale, have your denture cleaned by your dental team.

Should I take my denture out at night?

Your dental team may recommend taking out your dentures at night to give your mouth a chance to rest. If you do this, it is important to leave it in water to prevent any warping or cracking.

What is the alternative to a partial denture?

The main alternatives are a fixed bridge or a dental implant. A fixed bridge is made by putting crowns on the teeth at either side of the gap, and then joining these two crowns together by placing a false tooth in the space. This is all made in the laboratory and then the pieces are cemented into place with special adhesives. The bridge can’t be removed.

Another option is an adhesive bridge. This has ‘wings’ that are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth, with very little drilling needed.

What is a porcelain crown?

A dental crown is a type of dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. They are typically bonded to the tooth and can be made from many materials.
It’s easier than you think to turn broken, cracked, or decaying teeth into healthy, clean-looking teeth. Dental crowns, also known as caps, correct your teeth and strengthen them by fitting tightly over your existing teeth. They will mask the appearance of broken or decaying teeth and protect them from becoming even more damaged. Once it’s set, it’s just like having natural teeth.

Why are porcelain crowns used?

  • to improve the strength or appearance of teeth
  • for a tooth that is severely broken down, has cracks, or has had a root canal to reinforce the tooth
  • needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth

Dental crowns will allow your tooth to function normally again without worrying about the tooth cracking. Learn More HERE.

Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?

You can have a bridge only if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dental team will help you decide which is the best way of replacing missing teeth.

Can I have a bridge fitted immediately after having a tooth removed (extracted)?

It can take up to 6 months for your gums to heal properly after an extraction. This means that you may need to have a temporary denture before the bridge is fitted.

How do I care for my bridge?

You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot access this area.

Can I have teeth which attach to the jawbone?

Yes, by having dental implants. This treatment means you may be able to replace missing teeth without having crowns on other teeth. Click here for more information about dental implantsRemember that it is as important to care for your remaining teeth as it is to replace the missing ones.

Why Dental Implants Are So Popular?

Aesthetically, they look just like a healthy tooth; but they also keep the jaw bone stable. If you leave a missing tooth and don’t replace it, over time the jaw bone will disappear. Of course, this can lead to functional problems. Not to mention an aesthetic problem with your face. Because the jaw bone is what supports your cheeks, so the loss of it can lead to small changes, such as deepening expression lines in the face, or ultimately having the look of a collapsed jaw, all causing you to take on a more aged appearance!

Dental implants allow you to be able to chew your food without issue, including fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. They are easier to care for too; dental implants can be cared for the same way as natural teeth, with a toothbrush and floss.

We’ve talked about a lot, but we haven’t mentioned the greatest, most life changing reason for tooth replacement with dental implants… Implants are a permanent solution!

How wonderful is this? Ask any patient that had conventional dentures and decided to have dental implants placed for better support and they will tell you it was the best decision they’ve ever made!!

What is the process when getting a dental implant:

  • First, Dr. Anderson surgically places the implant into the jawbone. He may recommend a diet of cold foods and warm soup and soft foods during the healing process.
  • Second, the bone around the implant heals. What makes an implant so strong is that the bone actually grows around it and holds it in place and can take some time. Some patients can have the implants and replacement teeth placed all in one visit. While other patients might need to wait until the implant is completely integrated, up to several months, before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant.
  • Finally, it’s time for the placement of the artificial tooth/teeth.
    • For a single tooth implant, Dr. Anderson will customize a new tooth for you, called a dental crown. The crown will be based on size, shape, color and fit, and will be designed to blend in with your other teeth.
    • If you are replacing more than a single tooth, custom-made bridges or dentures will be made to fit your mouth and your implants.
    • Note: The replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement is ready.

How do I choose the best tooth replacement option for me?

Be guided by your dentist. They will know the condition of your remaining teeth. Gone are the days of looking older than necessary because of a sagging jawline due to one or more missing teeth.

Customized Restorative Dentistry that is Best for YOU

If you are interested in tooth replacement, it’s a good idea to discuss it carefully with Dr. Anderson first. If you are in good general health, one of these tooth replacement options, dentures bridges and implants,  should be a good fit for you. In fact, your health is more of a factor than your age.  Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or leukemia, may interfere with healing and patients with these issues may not be good candidates for certain replacement options. Remember, using tobacco can also slow healing, regardless of which type of treatment you decide on.

Schedule a consultation with a restorative dentistry expert at the offices of Thomas L. Anderson, DDS and Associates to see which tooth replacement option is best for you; dentures bridges and implants may be the perfect remedy to preserve a youthful appearance and restore the function of your bite.

Contact us today to schedule your dental appointment and meet with our skilled dentists at one of our three conveniently located dental office locations within the Kansas City area, including Lee’s Summit / Independence, the Country Club Plaza and Downtown Kansas City. The gentle dentists and expert team at Thomas L. Anderson and Associates look forward to working with you to treat your dental emergency, achieve proper oral health and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. If you have any questions about your dental insurance benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We are happy to review your policy! Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment and become part of our dental family.