How Many Ways Are There to Replace Missing Teeth?

It is unfortunately quite common for people to have missing teeth, many times nothing is done and people live quite happily with the gap, in this blog post we will look at some of the reasons why you may want to replace missing teeth and if you so choose tooth replacement, what are your best options?

When you have a missing tooth the opposing teeth can begin to drift and the adjacent teeth can begin to tip, this is probably the biggest reason to replace missing teeth, in order to protect your surrounding teeth and bite.

Options to replace missing teeth.

You basically have three options to replace your missing teeth.

  1. Dentures
  2. Dental bridges
  3. Dental implants

let’s look at each of these in turn.

Dental bridges


A dental bridge essentially uses the teeth either side of the gap as a support to replace the missing tooth in the middle. One of the biggest disadvantages is that there is often a requirement to remove healthy tooth structure on either side of the gap in order to accept this new support. The support is called an abutment in technical terms and often takes the form of a new crown.

The tooth which is replaced (called a Pontic in technical terms) is then attached to the abutments either side. You will generally find that to replace a single missing tooth that both teeth, on either side of the gap, are involved in this bridging process. This means that there will be a three tooth bridge required in order to replace a single missing tooth.

The biggest disadvantage in this process is that possibly healthy teeth on either side of the gap may need to have healthy tooth tissue removed.


a partial denture


Modern dentures can be highly aesthetic so that no one would know that you are wearing them, the gum and acrylic teeth can be made to look highly lifelike and natural, mimicking a natural smile almost exactly. One of the biggest disadvantages of dentures is the fact that they are removable. Many people dislike the idea of removing their teeth at night.

Small dentures can be made to replace a couple of missing teeth, in this case a clasp will be used around the teeth either side to hold the denture in place. These clasps can we made in one of three different materials:

  •  a dental claspGold. A more expensive option but an excellent material to use in the oral environment as it is inert and has good pliability.
  • Stainless steel. A cheaper alternative and with the similar properties to Gold
  • Acetyl resin. These are tooth coloured clasps, they often very expensive to make as the manufacturing process is relatively long and complex, they do however provide an extremely aesthetic option to retained dentures.

Dental implants.

 dental implant

A dental implant is often your dentist’s preferred option. When a dental implant is placed it will support the surrounding bone, this prevents the bone collapsing into the gap where the tooth was removed. This means that bone is retained rather than lost after the extraction. It then also means that the adjacent teeth do not have to be touched in order to take the abutment, as is common with dental bridges.

This means that dental implants can often be the best biological, functional and aesthetic way to replace missing teeth.

One disadvantage with dental implants is the immediate cost, there is the cost of providing the implant itself (this is a precision made dental appliance made to tolerances of microns), a dental implant surgeon to place the implant itself and then the final dental crown which is fitted on top of the dental implant.

However, an extremely important point to bear in mind is that the dental implant will typically last longer than any of the other restorations. As your teeth and gums change shape you will be required to have a new denture overtime, with a dental bridge, the gum underneath the pontic (the new tooth) can change shape as it is not supported, as this happens gaps appear underneath this pontic meaning it needs to be replaced.

Because dental bridges need three teeth to replace one single missing tooth, this can also be more expensive than you might imagine.

For this reason dental implants are often considered the best option for you.

How do I know which option is best for me?

This is a great question…

Minimum fuss.

If you want to have the simplest replacement of a missing tooth with the minimum number of appointments then a denture may be the best option. You do however have to consider the disadvantage that it is removable and will need replacing overtime.

Next on this list would be a dental bridge. You will need a couple of appointments at the dentist but once the bridge is fitted you can forget about it, apart from cleaning regularly of course, although again you do need to remember that it may need replacing a few years down the line.

Minimum cost.

Dentures would be the minimum cost way to replace missing teeth, apart from doing nothing at all. When it comes to dental implants and dental bridges it can often be a very close call. In the short term a dental bridge may be slightly cheaper but in the long-term, taking into account that a bridge may need to be replaced sooner than a dental implant, an implant can be the longest serving option.

It’s also worth thinking about what your budget could be when you first go to the dentist. Remember, many dental practices offer payment plans, often at 0% so you will not always be expected to pay the full amount upfront. Please ensure you discuss this with your dentist if you think a payment plan could work for you.

The Sandford is a local dental practice in Bexleyheath, DA6 offering the local people dental health advice and treatments to help replace missing teeth as well as stay dentally fit and healthy for life.

Unexpected risk factors for tooth decay

Sugary snacks and too much fruit juice are well-known risk factors for tooth decay. But there are other apparently innocent activities that could be damaging our teeth.

It has been suggested that even exercise could be bad for teeth — dentists at University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany, found the longer athletes exercised, the less saliva they produced and the more alkaline it became. Alkaline saliva encourages the growth of plaque bacteria, and for every extra hour of training each week, the researchers found there was an increased risk of having decayed or missing teeth.
So what else could be putting your teeth or jaw at risk? Our dentists in Bexleyheath take a look…

Drinking tea to warm you up

Drinking something hot after coming in from the cold may cause cracks in the surface of the teeth. These superficial cracks, barely visible to the naked eye, are caused by rapid changes in temperature.
Teeth are made of a yellowish bulky material called dentine, which is covered with enamel.

When a tooth is exposed to a sudden temperature change, this can stress the enamel and result in a crack.

Usually cracks are only a cosmetic problem, as they can become stained by coffee or red wine. However, if they become deeper and enter the dentine, this can cause sensitivity.

img_tooth_decay_136143318A severe crack may also damage the pulp or nerve within the tooth, causing infection or an abscess. This would only happen if you are frequently exposed to extremes of temperature, so the effects are cumulative. You can limit the change in temperature for your teeth during cold weather by wearing a scarf over your mouth, as this will warm the air you breathe.

The same kind of problem can be caused by crunching the ice in your drink, says Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association. When you chew ice, you’re creating a sudden change in temperature, stressing the enamel, which in turn can cause small cracks.

Swimming with your mouth open

Image source franky242

Image source franky242

Swimming in pools in which chlorine content hasn’t been carefully regulated may lead to dental erosion — loss of hard tissue from the surface of the tooth. It may also leave teeth discoloured and more sensitive. Chlorine reacts with water to produce a weak form of hydrochloric acid, which can wear down teeth.

Researchers from the New York University College of Dentistry found pools that are not properly maintained can cause severe and rapid erosion of dental enamel, so pools should have their chlorine levels checked regularly. While swimming, keep your mouth closed to avoid exposing teeth to chlorinated water.

“Improperly maintained pool chlorination in swimming pools can cause rapid and excessive erosion of dental enamel,” warned Jahangiri, a clinical associate professor and the Chair of NYUCD’s Department of Prosthodontics.

Using hay fever remedies

Antihistamines used for allergies such as hay fever can cause a dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay in the long term. They work by blocking histamine — a chemical released by the immune system when the body is under attack. This may affect the release of saliva, causing a dry mouth.

As well as being uncomfortable, dry mouth can lead to gum disease as the gums pull away from the teeth, and form ‘pockets’ that become infected. Teeth eventually loosen and can even fall out. Chewing sugarless gum and sipping water may help boost saliva production.

Opening packets with your teeth

“Using your teeth to hold knitting needles or biting off threads can make dents in the front teeth known as a tailor’s notch”, says Tara Renton, professor of oral surgery at King’s College, London.

Biting nails or tearing packets open with your teeth rather than finding the scissors can also put huge stress on the front teeth and can lead to cracks, says Nicola Owen, of the Dental Health Centre in Manchester. The tooth can be restored using small fillings.

Brushing straight after eating

Image source imagerymajestic

Image source imagerymajestic

Acids and sugars produced when we eat weaken the protective enamel temporarily, so if you clean your teeth straight after eating, you are brushing away at the enamel before it hardens again.

Wait at least half an hour — or even better, brush your teeth before meals to remove bacteria that feed off the food, and then freshen after eating using an alcohol-free mouthwash.

Try not to rinse after cleaning your teeth, as it washes away the protective fluoride coating left by the toothpaste.

Taking the contraceptive pill

Some progesterone-only birth control pills could make gums inflamed and more likely to bleed. They increase levels of hormones such as progesterone, much in the same way as pregnancy does and it is thought that these hormones cause an exaggerated reaction to dental plaque, triggering inflammation.

Good dental care will minimise the inflammation and help prevent plaque forming.


We hope you have found this article useful, please feel free to contact our dental practice in Bexleyheath at any time request an appointment here.

The Sandford team, led by Dr Hussein Shaffie, attend the Biotechnology Institute (BTI) in Vitoria, Spain


BTI is considered a global scientific reference in regenerative medicine through the use of plasma rich in growth factors making a huge impact in different medical specialities. The versatility, safety and effectiveness of this system make it ideal in the field of dentistry as it results in rapid healing, less swelling and a very safe procedure.

Dr Shaffie and his team’s training included advances in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases such as perimplantitis and a presentation of the latest developments in implantology and therapeutic applications achieved with plasma rich in growth factors.

In dental implants, Dr Shaffie and his team use the techniques provided through BTI’s Endoret based on the formulation and use of the patient’s own proteins with biological activity, growth factors and fibrin biomaterial for the stimulation and acceleration of tissue healing and regeneration. The effect is to accelerate the “on site” formation process of a biodegradable fibrin matrix that acts as a temporary “scaffold” that facilitates tissue regeneration. To you and me, this speeds up our body’s recover system making dental implants even more successful as the leading replacement to missing teeth.


Caring for our patients is a primary concern for The Sandford. The importance of having proper hygiene measures in place has been highlighted recently in the news and so it is reassuring to
know that The Sandford takes hygiene and the prevention of cross infection very seriously. Cross infection is the term used to describe the transference of micro-organisms from one person to another. At The Sandford the dental team make sure that the equipment they use (mask, gloves and eye protection), the procedures they follow (cleaning and sterilising equipment and instruments correctly) and having the right equipment are all in place to ensure you receive high quality and safe dental treatment.

To book your consultation, contact us on 020 8303 7051 or book online here.

North Kent’s leading dental implant and cosmetic centre

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