This page describes some of those options including when to use each option and how the procedure is carried out.
Temporary solutions to replace teeth include things like "Snap-On Smile" or similar transition smile appliances (Pictured above and at right). These are not intended for long term use, but provide a reasonable option for some people while a long term solution is planned.
Why would I need at implant?
Implants can be used when a tooth (or teeth) is missing. The example at the left shows that a missing tooth will be fixed with an implant.
What is an implant?
Essentially at its most basic level - an implant is a screw that is put in your bone to hold a tooth (or teeth). The example at right again shows the implant which is submerged in bone.
Below is a series of pictures which shows how a gap is
restored with an implant. The second picture shows an intermediate
piece that connects the implant to the actual crown that eventually
fixes the gap. The x-ray shown also gives a depiction of how this
case was restored.
A person missing one tooth would have an implant placed to become the new "root" for a fake tooth. A crown would be made to connect to the screw and that would be your fake tooth. Implants are very reliable and are currently the best option to replace missing teeth in many situations.
A bridge is used when you have a one or two tooth gap that you want to fill in. A bridge uses the teeth on either side of the gap as anchors to hold a fake tooth (or teeth) that rest on the gums.
In the most basic example here (at right), this person is missing one tooth. The front tooth and back tooth next to the space are going to anchor the bridge.
These teeth are shaped to be smaller version of themselves so that crowns can be make to cover these teeth. A third crown is made for the gap. All three crowns are connected together and then the anchor crowns are cemented to the anchor teeth. The result is a gap is filled with a fixed solution that will not move and behaves reasonably like another tooth.
Several other examples of bridges fixing gaps are shown here. This example at right is a two tooth gap that is fixed with a "4 unit" bridge. The middle two teeth are crowns that rest on the gums. The teeth on either side of the gap in the first picture have been shaved down to accept crowns ... and those crowns are connected to the fake middle teeth. This is all cemented into place and does not come out of the mouth. It is fixed in place.
Sometimes even 6 unit bridges are made that fix a gap of four middle missing teeth. The bridge at right (blue background) shows this scenario. You can see that the end crowns are hollow because they will fit over the anchor teeth. The middle crowns are solid because they will be the fake teeth that rest on the gums.
A partial is a mouthpiece-type of device that is used to fill spaces in the mouth where there are missing teeth.
Depending on where teeth are missing, different designs can be made of partials so that the partial will clip into place and brace off the remaining teeth in the mouth. This is an economical way to fill in many gaps with one appliance. It is a removable appliance that is taken in and out.
A conventional denture is made when no teeth are remaining. This can be
done for the top arch or the bottom arch.
An immediate denture is made when teeth remain but the decision has been made to extract the remaining dentition. The process works by having the denture processed before all the teeth are removed. The denture is then inserted on the day that the final teeth are extracted. The upside to this method is there is no point in time when you are without teeth. The downside to this method is that there is a lot of adjustment time and the fit is not as precise as a conventional denture.
A huge breakthrough with dentures is the implant-supported denture. This technique helps preserve bone long term (which aids in the fit of the denture), and the retention and biting function are superior to traditional dentures.