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M - Missing Teeth (A to Z Challenge April 2014)

If you have teeth missing, it can affect the way the rest of your teeth bite together. Your remaining teeth may tilt and drift into the gaps and food can get trapped in the spaces. This can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. If lots of your teeth are missing, your facial muscles can sag and this can affect your speech and appearance.
Treatment options:
  • Dentures – removable plastic or metal frameworks that carry false teeth.
  • Bridges – false teeth that are fixed onto adjacent natural teeth.
  • Dental implants – metal 'screws' are placed in your jawbone, and dentures, crowns or bridges are clipped or screwed on top of them.
Dentures
  • Partial dentures
A partial denture can replace one or more missing teeth. A partial denture is a framework (plate) with a number of false teeth on it and will often have metal clasps to keep them in place.
  • Complete dentures
You will need complete dentures if you have no teeth left in your upper or lower jaw. They are usually made of a plastic plate with plastic or porcelain teeth.
Bridges
If only one or two of your teeth are missing, you can get them replaced with a bridge. This consists of two crowns, which are placed on your natural teeth either side of the space, with a false tooth in the middle. Bridges are made of porcelain and/or metal and there are many designs. The bridge is permanently cemented in the mouth.
Dental implants
A dental implant is a metal screw (titanium or titanium alloy) that is placed in the jawbone. It holds a false tooth (or teeth) in place. Over several months, the jawbone will fuse with the metal rod. Dentures or bridges can be screwed or clipped onto the implant. Implants can be expensive and require surgery. You need to have healthy gums, and if you smoke, your dentist may not recommend implants as it can affect the success of the treatment.

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