The tooth gap, the diastema, usually between the two upper incisors, is often perceived as unsightly, but usually has no disease value. If it bothers someone very much, the tooth gap can be closed.
An interdental gap is when one or more adjacent teeth are missing, but there is still at least one tooth on either side of the gap.
A tooth-supported dental bridge is a series of two or more fake teeth supported on both sides by crowns. The “pontics” are the fake teeth in the center of the bridge, and the “connectors” are the crowns on either side of the bridge. The crown is attached to the abutment teeth, i.e., the healthy teeth on either side of the gap. If you’re missing two teeth, the dental bridge structure should consist of two pontics and one or two crowns on either side. The surrounding teeth will have to be filed down to accommodate the crowns.
In many cases, gaps are closed with a bridge. Here, the chewing pressure is transferred to the bones, as with a natural tooth, but the two abutment teeth have to absorb a greater force, as they also have to absorb the pressure of the pontic. Therefore, bridges can only be inserted if the two abutment teeth themselves are in a good condition and the gap span is not too large. No more than 2 teeth missing next to each other should be treated with a bridge.
2. Partial and Full Dentures
Dentures are a series of fake teeth attached to a plastic gum-colored base. The position of the prosthetic teeth is designed according to the positions of the missing teeth. Dentures are worn using adhesives or metal clasps fastened to the surrounding teeth. Partial and full dentures are typically used for tooth replacement in a free-end situation, but they can also be used to close an interdental gap, for example, if the intended abutment teeth themselves are damaged or unstable.
In order to fix a partial denture, elaborate constructions of clasps, tongue bars, or palatal plates are usually necessary, which are often visible from the outside in the anterior and anterior posterior region. In case of a full denture in the upper jaw, a palatal plate covers the palate and thus impairs the sense of taste. Crumbly foods, such as muesli, can be torturous for denture wearers.
The biggest disadvantage of all dentures, however, is that the entire chewing pressure is not distributed to the jaw via the teeth and their roots, but that the force rests on the gums, gingivally supported. Since the gums are not designed for such loads, inflammation and even bone loss can occur in the medium and long term.
The jawbone of edentulous jaws normally degrades or “atrophies” with age, so the volume of the gums surrounding it also reduces and dentures eventually start to rattle and sit loosely in the mouth. While relining can temporarily solve the problem, they cannot permanently eliminate it.
So, do we have to put up with "chattering dentures" in old age, reduced taste because of the palatal plates, and further tooth loss due to caries and periodontal disease on the abutment teeth? No, because dentistry created an alternative more than 40 years ago, from which more and more people are now benefiting: the dental implant.
3. Dental Implants
Dental implants are the ideal replacement for missing teeth of all natures, including interdental gaps, free-end situations, and edentulous jaws. A dental implant is a titanium or ceramic post drilled into the jawbone underneath the empty sockets of your missing teeth. Your bone tissues gradually fuse with the dental implant, making it an integrated component of your oral anatomy. The dental implant essentially replaces the missing teeth’ root structures.
Once the dental implant becomes a part of your anatomy, the dentist attaches a prosthetic to the implant. The prosthetic can be a dental crown, dental bridge, or even partial or full dentures, depending on your requirements. If you’re missing individual teeth in some locations, you may receive single implants with crowns. If you’re missing multiple teeth, you may receive dental bridges. And if you’re edentulous, you may receive a complete denture supported on implants.
Dental implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Furthermore, they don’t involve any additional maintenance, so you can proceed with all your dietary habits. Dental implants also support the underlying jawbone tissues and prevent your facial features from sagging. If you’re considering dental implants, you should ideally opt for metal-free ceramic implants because they minimize the risk of peri-implantitis, titanium intolerance, and other complications associated with metal implants.
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