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Precision Implant Dentistry

How can I best replace missing teeth?

No one wants to have a gap in their smile, and missing teeth in the back of the mouth make it hard to eat and can cause other issues. So what are the options for replacing missing teeth and which treatment is best for you?

#1: Do nothing

This is the least expensive option. Many people choose to just leave a space if they have a tooth removed, especially if it cannot be seen when they smile.

While you may be able to get away with this if it is the very back tooth, leaving teeth missing in the middle of an arch may cause serious issues over time.

Teeth act together for support and function. When a tooth is removed, the teeth around the space now have nothing keeping them upright, so they begin to tip into the open area.

Over time, the teeth become slanted, effectively keeping them from being able to meet the chewing surface of the tooth above or below it and taking them out of function.

Spaces open between the other teeth of the arch as they shift into the open space, creating food traps that cause decay and gum problems. The teeth above or below the space can supererupt, or grow long, as they have nothing to meet against to chew.

This can lead to jaw joint pain and decreased chewing ability as the teeth no longer fit together as they should.

PROS
  • Doing nothing costs no money
  • It’s convenient to not require a visit to the orthodontist
CONS
  • Surrounding teeth can begin to shift
  • Over time, shewing can become difficult
  • Food can get lodged in the space, causing tooth decay

#2: Removable dentures and partial dentures

Conventional removable dentures are a fairly inexpensive way to replace all teeth on the upper and/or lower (also called an arch). They are normally made from pink acrylic with acrylic or porcelain teeth set into the pink base. 

While dentures do replace teeth, they are prone to moving around in the mouth, sometimes rubbing sores. Chewing ability is significantly less than with natural teeth, which may limit what you can eat. In addition, many people find dentures bulky and unnatural feeling in their mouth or have difficulty speaking.

If some healthy teeth remain in the mouth, a partial denture may be a good choice. These appliances are made with a metal framework with clasps that grasp on to existing teeth to anchor them in place and give them stability. While less bulky than acrylic dentures, these restorations can still seem like a mouthful.

Dentures and partials both need to be removed at night for cleaning and to let the gums have time uncovered. On average, dentures and partial dentures need to be replaced or rebuilt every 5-8 years.

PROS
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Good option for replacing teeth
  • Can get a partial denture if natural teeth still remain
CONS
  • Dentures tend to shift within the mouth
  • Rubbing and chaffing can occur

#3: Bridges

If the teeth around a space are healthy and strong, a permanent dental bridge may be a great alternative to restorations that come in and out of the mouth.

A bridge is a series of dental crowns that are connected together and cemented into place.

Although more expensive than dentures, bridges look and feel like natural teeth and can last for many years.

Care must be taken so the supporting teeth do not decay under the bridge and the gums and bone remain healthy.

To construct a bridge, the teeth on either side of a space need to be prepared for a crown.

This means removing significant tooth structure in order to make space for the restoration, even if the supporting teeth were perfectly healthy.

The bridge is then created by a dental laboratory, which usually takes two to three weeks, and then can be cemented into place.

PROS
  • Look and feel like natural teeth
  • Good alternative even to a full restoration
CONS
  • More expensive than traditional dentures
  • Tooth structure removal required

#4: Removable implant-supported dentures

If all teeth in an arch (upper or lower) are missing or needing to be replaced, but there is concern about poor fit or movement from a conventional denture, an implant supported denture may be something to consider.

An implant supported denture is very similar to a conventional denture, but is designed to snap onto special attachments anchored to the jaws by dental implants. A dental implant is a titanium post which is surgically placed into the bone of the jaw and fuses with the bone.

When used with a denture, multiple implants are placed and then topped by either a small metal ball or metal rods. These act as connection points for specially designed attachments embedded in the acrylic of the dentures.

While more stable than conventional dentures, implant supported dentures still need to be removed at night to clean and to allow the gums to breathe. The attachment points must be regularly maintained by a dentist as well to continue to function.

The placing of implants is a considerable investment, while the final restoration itself carries almost all the drawbacks of a conventional denture.

PROS
  • Good option if traditional dentures won’t fit
  • More stable than dentures
CONS
  • Attachment points must be maintained by a dentist
  • Must be removed at night
  • Very expensive

#5: Dental implants

Dental implants are the most reliable and natural feeling way of replacing teeth. When a single tooth must be replaced, a crown can be fitted in the space using dental implants without the need to cut down potentially healthy teeth on either side.

The cost is roughly the same as a bridge, with the cost of the implant being offset by not needing additional anchor teeth prepped for crowns.

These implants actually fuse to the bone of the jaw and make the final restoration as stable as natural teeth. They can be used to replace individual teeth or even an entire arch.

When replacing multiple teeth, dental bridges are placed onto the implants. It’s also possible to restore a full mouth of teeth with dental implants (more on that below).

Traditionally, a single tooth restoration is a procedure that requires multiple surgeries, long healing times between each surgery, and several steps before final restorations can be placed.

However, you can get a one-day dental implant at some practices, which is a way to get sturdy implants in a single surgery.

PROS
  • The most reliable and natural feeling option
  • Won’t need to cut teeth
CONS
  • Requires multiple surgeries and long healing times

When it comes to replacing your teeth, you have a couple really good choices: All-On-4 and the G4 Implant Solution.

#6: All-On-Four

An All-On-4 procedure is what you might guess it is — a way to replace teeth using four dental implants. It uses a full arch supported by four implants, and it’s become a very good way to replace a complete smile. It’s pretty much the standard nowadays.

Usually, AO4 recovery time can be as long as a year or even longer because the implants need time to fuse to your jawbone. This ensures they last a long time.

During the procedure, you’ll get anesthesia first. Then the doctor may need to remove teeth in order to make room for the implants and bridge.

Next, they’ll place the titanium screws into the jaw, two in front and two in back. After that, the crowns get placed on top of the screws.

An AO4 treatment can cost as much as $59,000 depending on what type of material the doctor decides to use (usually acrylic or porcelain).

Some dental offices even have hidden fees, cheating patients by offering them mini implants or snap-on dentures instead of AO4.

PROS
  • Good way to replace a full set of teeth
  • Sturdy and long-lasting method for replacing teeth
CONS
  • Healing time is a year or longer
  • Multiple surgeries may be required

#7: G4 by Mike Golpa

The G4 Implant Solution is basically a new-and-improved version of AO4. Dr. Mike Golpa, the creator of this method, fixed a lot of the problems with the AO4 treatment.

First, G4 delivers a full set of replacement teeth in just 24 hours. No need to wait months after a tooth extraction for the bone and tissue to heal.

Second, the whole treatment is done by one clinician, not a bunch of different people, so they really get to know you and your needs.

Third, the overall cost is a lot lower than a traditional AO4 procedure.

The whole process takes three days, the last 24 hours being the surgery and implant placement.

Before that, you’ll need to meet with the doctor for a full consultation. They may take scans and X-rays of your mouth and they’ll help you choose your teeth color. Then they’ll remove any teeth necessary and place the implants. Within 24 hours, they’ll place the bridges and crowns.

The implants will take several months to integrate to the bone, but because of the way Dr. Golpa and his team performs the surgery and because of their high-quality milling center, you can immediately enjoy your new, fully functioning smile.

PROS
  • You get a full set of teeth in just 24 hours
  • G4 implants are permanent and life-long
  • More affordable than AO4, no hidden fees
CONS
  • Total cost may worry some patients, but G4 does offer payment options (including in-house financing)

Which option is the best for you?

As you would imagine, the right choice for you is dependant upon many factors, such as how many teeth need to be replaced, how much you are willing to invest into treatment, and how quickly you would like the treatment to be complete.

We would love an opportunity to discuss your individual needs with you and guide you in making the best choice. Skip to the top of this page and click “Live Chat Now” to speak with one of our qualified dental experts. Whatever option you choose, you’ll be glad you started the journey to a healthy and beautiful smile!