At Lakes Dentistry, Drs. Megan Miller and Bob Williams are dedicated to ensuring every patient achieves his or her optimal level of oral health. Every smile is different, and we approach every smile with a customized treatment plan to achieve your oral health care goals. All our patients smiles should share two characteristics: they should look great and be complete. While patients sometimes choose not to replace missing teeth, especially if those teeth are not exposed when they smile, we encourage our patients to reconsider this choice as even one missing tooth can have an adverse effect on your oral health. Call today to find out more about tooth replacement options from Lakes Dentistry or to schedule an appointment at our convenient Lakewood, WA office.
Replacing Teeth is Essential to Oral Health
When you pull a crayon out of the box or remove a block from the middle of a stack, you create structural instability. In the box of crayons, the colors will shift around in their rows and the box will become creased and dented over time. Removing one block from the center of the stack makes the structure easier to topple as pressure is placed unevenly on the surrounding blocks. This may sound like child’s play, but if you’re living with a gaps left by one or more missing teeth, you are likely to experience similar shifting, creasing, wrinkling, and decreased stability.
Like the box of crayons, when a tooth is missing, the surrounding teeth are able to shift more easily and they begin to move toward the empty space. This is referred to as dental drift, and it can undo years of costly orthodontic work by allowing teeth to shift and gap. Additionally, the gum tissue that supported the missing tooth is broken down overtime by the pushing and shifting of surrounding teeth, and without the root to stimulate it the jawbone can begin to lose density. This decrease in gum tissue and bone density can cause your skin to sink into the open space giving your face a wrinkled, sagging, or sunken appearance. Like the missing block, without the support of even one tooth, your whole bite is weakened. Surrounding teeth will absorb more pressure during chewing which will lead to uneven wear and possibly painful TMJ dysfunction.
Cosmetic Tooth Replacement Options
At Lakes dentistry, we offer a variety of tooth replacement options to replace 1 tooth, several teeth, or a full arch. To replace 1 to 3 teeth, we typically recommend crown and bridge treatment where your replacement “bridge” teeth are connected to surrounding teeth for support. Crowns placed over the teeth on either side of the empty socket are connected to the custom made ceramic bridge teeth.
For 3 or more missing teeth but less than a full arch, we will likely recommend a partial denture. Often simply referred to as a partial, these dentures fill in the gaps left by missing teeth and connect to surrounding teeth using metal clips. Finally, for full arch replacement, we can craft a full denture. These dentures are prosthetic replacement teeth connected to your gums using suction or dental adhesive.
Dental Implants for Full Tooth Restoration
One thing that all of our traditional tooth replacement methods have in common is that they only replace the upper portion of the tooth. Dental implants are unique because they replace the entire tooth from the roots up. Dental implants can be used to support any number of replacement teeth from one crown to a full implant-supported denture. Patients who are interested in dental implants should schedule an evaluation and consultation to determine whether they are a good candidate for implant surgery. If the patient can benefit from dental implant placement, we will begin the two phase dental implant process.
During the first phase, titanium implant posts will be surgically placed below the gum line to mimic the root of the tooth providing support for replacement teeth and gum tissue and stimulating the jawbone. After you have time to heal, a permanent replacement tooth or teeth will be attached to the implants. Once your replacement prosthetic is connected to the implant, it will look, feel and function just like your natural smile. Unlike traditional tooth replacement options, you can clean implant supported dental prosthetics like natural teeth, they won’t slip or slide, and their strength, stability and durability means you can bite into an apple, popsicle, caramel, or any other tough or chewy food without fear.
Call the Superior Dentists, Lakewood, WA
All of our dental practitioners are skilled, patient, and knowledgeable. We love helping our patients look and feel their best. Whatever your dental care goals, we can help. Call to schedule an appointment today. Our Lakewood, WA office welcomes patients form nearby cities including Tacoma, University Place, Parkland, Steilacoom, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.