At Gordon Dental Implants & Cosmetics, most of our Kansas City patients know us for offering a wide scope of dental implant services. And even though we typically recommend dental implants when replacing missing teeth, there are still a variety of other types of treatments for restoring your smile.
Depending on your personal preferences, budget, timeframe, and other factors, here are some of the other options you can consider when you’re missing your natural teeth:
Partial dentures can be made out of either a metal or acrylic framework, wrapping around your remaining healthy teeth. They essentially replace your missing teeth without requiring any natural teeth to be removed. Partial dentures are affordable and fairly easy to get used to wearing. Sometimes we can add additional teeth to the partial frame if needed.
Full Traditional Dentures
When it comes to quickly and affordably replacing all of your teeth at one time, traditional dentures are still extremely common. Dentures have been in existence since ancient Mayan and Egyptian times and, fortunately, are a lot more comfortable today. While they do take a bit more patience to get used to eating and speaking with, traditional full dentures are still highly successful and predictable.
Fixed Dental Bridges
Traditional dental bridges cover stable, healthy adjacent teeth and suspend an artificial porcelain crown between them. They essentially “bridge” that open area where the missing tooth once stood. Traditional and implant-supported bridges are extremely popular and used on an everyday basis. Ironically enough, we also use bridges with dental implants when there are three or more missing teeth.
Is it possible to have a dental bridge with only one side supported instead of both ends? In certain circumstances, yes. These restorations are called a “cantilever bridge” and may be used when only one tooth is available to support the restoration or the other neighboring tooth isn’t stable enough to do so. These alternatives to dental implants are less common. They look like two teeth next to one another, but only one of them sits on top of a natural tooth, while the other is suspended over your gums.
Maryland bridges aren’t nearly as common as traditional bridge restorations, but they’re still used on a case-by-case basis. Rather than being suspended by two adjacent teeth with functional crowns, it uses what looks like a pair of small wings. These porcelain pontic dental crowns have small extensions coming off either side, which wrap around behind the neighboring teeth. Either wing is cemented or bonded to the adjacent teeth, suspending it in the open space.
Maryland bridges are ideal in situations where we want to preserve the enamel of your remaining natural teeth or avoid placing a dental implant. Such as in children or teens after a traumatic oral injury. But adults can get Maryland bridges, too.
A “flipper” is a temporary appliance you wear when you have missing teeth but are planning on getting something more permanent later on. Usually, we only use a flipper when it’s an obviously visible tooth.
For example, we might recommend a flipper for a teenager who knocked out a front tooth on a trampoline but isn’t quite old enough to get a fixed dental bridge or dental implant. Maybe they’re still fairly young, and their mouth isn’t fully developed, but we need to preserve tooth spacing and aesthetics in the meantime.
Our Leawood dentist will also use flippers as interim prosthetics while you’re planning for a more permanent restoration. It essentially prevents you from having a visible missing tooth whenever you smile.
Implant-Supported Dentures in Leawood, Kansas City
“Overdentures” look almost identical to traditional dentures, with one exception: they have special attachments that snap or clip onto dental implants. There are 2-4 locators that each have a corresponding dental implant. When placed in your mouth, they “clip” or “snap” into position, preventing your dentures from rubbing, rocking, or slipping around in your mouth. Overdentures are popular alternatives to full arch dental implants when you want a step up from conventional “plates” but aren’t totally ready for something like All-on-4 or All-on-6 zirconia implants.
Sometimes we can even retrofit your dentures to snap onto dental implants if you decide to do that at a later point in time. Even though they still technically use implants, overdentures are extremely popular dental implant alternatives.
Not Doing Anything
Sometimes having a missing tooth doesn’t seem like that big of a priority, especially compared to what else is going on in our lives at that moment in time. Maybe you plan to eventually get an artificial tooth or single tooth dental implant, but not in the immediate future. If we aren’t worried about the neighboring teeth moving or your missing tooth isn’t visible when you smile, you may want to take a “wait and see” type of approach. Especially if you think some of your other existing teeth may need to be extracted in the near future. That way, you can invest in a more comprehensive treatment option for all of your missing teeth at one time.
Are Dental Implants Like Having Real Teeth?
Compared to most popular tooth replacement options, dental implants are more like natural teeth. That’s because they stand independent of other teeth in the mouth (making them non-invasive to your tooth enamel) and are able to withstand fairly heavy biting and chewing pressure.
But sometimes, people don’t want or don’t qualify for dental implants. And that’s ok. There are other false tooth options that are still effective as replacement teeth. Depending on if you’re missing one or more teeth, our Leawood dentist will talk through your new tooth options to help you narrow down your choices. Many patients prefer to have a hands-on role in selecting their treatments, so we make it a goal to partner with you as we co-plan your smile reconstruction.
Reserve an Exam
Are you looking for a cheaper alternative to replace missing teeth? Call Gordon Dental Implants & Cosmetics today to reserve a no-obligation, professional consultation.