The loss of a tooth can cause a series of irreversible changes in your mouth if left untreated including the risk of additional tooth loss. Dentistry reduces these effects by replacing the missing tooth. There are three basic methods: removable bridge, fixed bridge, and dental implant.
The removable bridge is the least expensive, but this option may be esthetically unappealing because the clasps that hold it in place are often visible. There is a also a tendency for food to get underneath the removable bridge. A fixed bridge is cemented in place and has no clasps. However, the downside of this method is that teeth on either side of the gap must be cut and crowned to anchor the fixed bridge. The major drawback to both types of bridges is that without a tooth root the jawbone shrinks ultimately leading to significant changes in the facial structure and resulting in a premature aging affect.
A dental implant is a small anchor inserted in the bone that replaces the missing root. A crown is built on this anchor and no clasps or cutting and crowning of neighboring teeth is necessary. Once an implant has been placed in the bone, it will maintain the jawbone and facial structure just the same as a natural tooth. An implant feels and looks like a natural tooth. A dental implant must be done while the patient has adequate bone left in which to place the anchor. If the bone is not adequate (perhaps because an implant was not done soon after a tooth root was lost) a tiny amount of bone is grafted to the site and then an anchor is implanted and a crown built.