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Tooth Replacement Methods

Deciding which tooth replacement method will work best for you can be rather daunting. However, it is absolutely vital that patients with missing or severely cracked teeth receive the appropriate dental care as soon as possible, since delaying treatment can lead to a variety of serious dental health issues. By not replacing cracked or missing teeth, you risk disrupting neighboring teeth, bone loss and a facial structure collapse, as well as an increased risk of fractures and infections. It may even permanently impact your ability to function normally (i.e. eating, smiling, talking, etc.)

Not sure which option is right for you? Keep reading to learn more about the three methods of tooth replacement—dentures, bridges and implants.  You can also click on the following links to jump to that section of the page!

Information about Removable Partial Dentures

Information about Dental Bridges

Information about Dental Implants

Removable Partial Dentures

A removable partial denture (as its name suggests) is a method of tooth replacement that can easily be taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Partial dentures usually have replacement teeth that are attached to a plastic base that matches the color of your gums and often have some form of clasp that attaches to your natural teeth.

Crowns—or “caps”—can improve the way a removable partial denture fits in your mouth and may be recommended by your dentist if necessary.

Removable partial dentures can be a bit difficult to become accustomed to. Putting them in and taking them out takes practice and it may be a few weeks before they stop feeling tight or uncomfortable.

Removable partial dentures should never be worn 24 hours a day, so your dentist may tell you to remove them at bedtime and to put them back in each morning. Your dentist will most likely make follow-up appointments to look for sore spots or pressure points and to make adjustments so that your denture continues to fit comfortably.

Once your missing teeth are replaced, eating should become a much more pleasant experience. And since missing teeth can cause difficulties with speaking, removable partial dentures may help you to speak clearer.

Over time, as you age and your mouth changes, your removable partial dentures may no longer fit well and could break, crack, ship or one of the teeth could loosen. Sometimes dentists are able to make the necessary repairs (often on the same day), but complex repairs may take longer.


  • Tend to cost less than dental implants or fixed bridges

  • Usually easier to repair than fixed bridges


  • May need more frequent replacement than dental implants or fixed bridges

  • Some people may be discomfort about taking out their teeth for cleaning and at night

  • May be lost or broken while they are taken out of mouth

  • Can be uncomfortable for some

  • May be less stable than other tooth replacement efforts

Dental Bridges

Another tooth replacement method is a fixed bridge, which is a restoration that fills the space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed bridge is cemented or bonded into place and can only be removed by a dentist.

Placing a bridge is normally a multi-visit process. During your first visit, your dentist will prepare the teeth on each side of the gap. The bridge will eventually be attached to these teeth.

Next. your dentist will also take an impression your teeth (and the space) and send this impression to a dental lab, where lab technicians will make the bridge out of ceramic, metal, glass-ceramics or a combination of these materials. Your dentist will install a temporary bridge to protect your teeth your exposed teeth while your permanent bridge is being made.

During your follow up visit, the bridge is fitted, adjusted and cemented into place.


  • Cost less than tooth implants

  • Don't need to be removed for cleaning

  • Look, feel and function like natural teeth


  • More expensive than a removable denture

  • Cleaning under pontic teeth requires some effort

  • May affect the teeth next to a missing tooth

Dental Implants

Many patients choose dental implants to replace one or several missing teeth or to support a full set of dentures.

Implants are posts that are posts that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw. They function as sturdy anchors for replacement teeth and are usually made of titanium (and other materials that are accepted by the human body).

Many patients find that implants are stable, secure and a good replacement for their tooth. However, since surgery is necessary, patients who opt for this tooth replacement method should be in good health overall. They also need to have adequate bone to support the implant or be willing to undergo surgery to build up the area needing the implant beforehand.  Patients must also be willing to commit to regular dental appointments and a daily oral care routine.

It is also worth noting that there are many different kinds of dental implants and that treatments may take one day for some and several months for others.

That said, there are three general phases of implant treatment:

  1. Placement of the Implant: Your dentist will surgically place the implant into your jawbone. Pain or tenderness is common after surgery, so pain medication may be prescribed to ease discomfort. Eating soft foods is recommended during the healing process.

  2. The Healing Process: Bone grows around an implant, making it stable and holding it in place. This process takes time (sometimes up to several months), but once it is completely healed, replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Some patients are actually able to have both the implant and the replacement teeth placed in one visit.

  3. Replacement of Missing Tooth or Teeth (“Prosthesis”): Your dentist or a dental lab will custom-make a crown, bridge or denture to fit your mouth and your implants. Once this is complete, it is attached to the implant posts. Since the prosthesis usually takes some time to make, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture. This will help you to eat and speak normally while you wait for your permanent placement to be ready.


  • May prevent shrinkage of the jawbone caused by tooth loss

  • Can last many years (even decades in some cases)

  • Some are able to be placed in just one or two visits

  • Nearby teeth are not affected

  • Most similar to a natural tooth


  • Tend to cost more than other tooth replacement methods

  • Some take multiple visits to place and may require more dental visits than other methods

  • Require surgery

In need of some customized advice to help you select the right tooth replacement method? Vista Dental Care is here to help. Give us a call at (650) 871-1430 or contact us now.