It is important to replace a missing tooth as soon as you can in order avoid problems with your teeth and jaw. There are several options available.
Dental implants are a very popular treatment to replace a missing tooth and involves oral surgery. The gum is opened and a small titanium root is surgically implanted in your jaw. As it heals it fuses with the jawbone and an abutment is added with a prosthetic tooth attached. The new root provides stimulation to the jawbone keeping it healthy and encouraging bone growth. The replacement tooth is tailored to look as close as possible to your natural teeth. It is not an instant fix, as the procedure needs to be completed in stages. It can take approximately six months for the new implant to heal and fuse to the bone before the new tooth is fitted. Although it can be an expensive procedure, it provides you with a natural look that feels like a real tooth and can be maintained using your normal cleaning procedure of brushing and flossing. This is a long-lasting alternative and if well cared for should last a lifetime.
Another option to replace missing teeth, a dental bridge can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth in a row by bridging the gap. They are usually made of porcelain or a mixture of porcelain and metal and are anchored to the teeth on either side. In some instances, it is possible to combine a bridge with an implant. They provide a natural looking appearance and are highly functional. Use your usual oral hygiene practices of brushing and flossing to maintain them. Provided they are well cared for a dental bridge can last about 10 to 15 years or longer.
Dentures are an entire row of teeth that are removable and are recommended for people who have an entire set of teeth missing, although they can be used to replace several teeth. This is a much cheaper alternative and are suitable for people who have unhealthy or weak jaws. There can be problems with them slipping out of place when eating or talking, but that can be remedied with the use of denture adhesive. Due to chewing difficulties, you may need to avoid certain foods. They need to be removed and cleaned every day and should last for 7 to 10 years.
Your dentist will be able to go through the options with you and advise you on the best solution for your particular situation.