Traditional methods to replace a missing tooth or teeth include the fabrication of a bridge. To replace a missing tooth with a bridge, at least one tooth on either side of the space created by the missing tooth must be prepared for a crown. Then a false tooth is joined to the crowns, and the entire structure is cemented to the prepared teeth. The patient cannot remove the bridge, and special aids are available to keep it clean.
When a patient no longer has any natural teeth, complete dentures are the traditional method to restore function and appearance. Many patients experience difficulty wearing conventional dentures because of poor stability and decreased chewing function. The use of dental implants to improve the stability and retention of dentures has become quite popular.
When there are multiple missing teeth, the remaining anchor teeth may be utilized to secure an acrylic or metal framework upon which the replacement teeth are placed. This prosthesis should be removed on a daily basis for cleaning purposes. Implants can also help with the stability of this type of denture.
Both bridges and dentures can be supported by implants. In cases where there are too many missing or weak teeth to be used as adequate support implants can be employed to act as the anchor units for these prosthesis