Upper False Teeth Options
People who are missing one or more teeth may feel too self-conscious to smile freely, and this self-consciousness is often compounded when the teeth are missing from the top row. Self-consciousness isn’t the only concern that can arise when someone’s missing their top teeth; this condition can also cause difficulty eating or speaking and can adversely affect the health of the mouth and possibly even the overall health of the person. Traditionally, many dentists have recommended conventional, removable dentures as a prosthetic option for patients who are missing teeth in the upper row, though dentures can be uncomfortable and ill-fitting, causing them to slip and interfere with eating and talking and leading to a whole different set of problems. Thankfully, there are some alternatives available for people who want to replace their upper teeth; the most popular options are dental implants, overdentures, and dental bridges. You and your dentist can discuss the best options for you, depending on the health of your oral cavity, the density of your jawbone, and the number of teeth you plan to replace.
Some types of conventional removable dentures replace entire rows of teeth, resting on the gums and relying on denture adhesive to hold them to the gum tissue. This places pressure on the bone and gradually causes it to degrade, thereby affecting the fit of the dentures which causes them to rub against the tissue; the domino effect of damage wrought by conventional dentures cannot be underestimated. Removable partial dentures can be used when there are still some natural teeth in the mouth, and, while they don’t damage the oral tissue and are relatively secure, they can look artificial and interfere with eating. They also confer none of the benefits of dental implants, which stimulate the growth of healthy bone in the jaw while providing stable, secure options for replacing the upper front teeth.
Dental implants have steadily increased in popularity since they were introduced as an option for dental restorations, and this popularity only continues to grow. For many people, dental implants provide a highly stable, effective, and attractive alternative to traditional removable dentures. Dental implants are small cylindrical posts, usually made of titanium, that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. Thanks to the highly biocompatible nature of titanium, as the bone that surrounds the implant heals, it fuses to the implant itself, creating a sturdy foundation for a dental crown. This process, called osseointegration, can take as long as 6 months or more, but once the bone has fully healed, the implant can support significant force and pressure. In the upper jaw, especially, the bone must heal thoroughly so that the implant can withstand the force of biting and chewing while also holding the weight of the suspended tooth; in effect, the implant itself becomes a replacement tooth root. Once the implants have fully healed, your implant dentist can place the dental crown, which is affixed to an attachment contraption that’s attached to the tip of the implant. Dental implants are a long-term dental restoration option and can last a lifetime if properly cared for. Because they are designed to be permanent and cannot be removed, they are exceedingly comfortable and realistic-looking and are unlikely to interfere with day-to-day life in any way. To ensure the success of dental implants, patients should have an adequate amount of healthy bone as well as healthy gums at the start of the procedure, and they should be expected to maintain the health of the gums and oral tissues through regular oral hygiene, just as they would with natural teeth.
If you are a patient with active gum disease or depleted or unhealthy bone in your jaw, your dentist may talk to you about the possibility of treating your existing health issues before placing dental implants; inflammation and infection are treated, and bone graft surgeries may be necessary. While gum disease should always be addressed before an implant procedure, in some cases, dentists can make due with the existing amount of healthy bone, placing just a few implants strategically in the jaw and then crafting rows of prosthetic teeth that attach to the implants; some of these implant-supported dentures can use as few as two implants to support a whole row of teeth. Snap-in dentures are a stable option for patients who don’t have any teeth but still have enough healthy bone to support some implants. The tops of the implants feature locator receptors that hug the locator attachments on the pink tissue side of the denture, allowing the wearer to snap on, and snap off, their denture. These attachments are secure and stable but still offer wearers the option of removing their dentures, facilitating easy cleaning of both the dentures and of the inside of the oral cavity. Even though there are no natural teeth in the mouth, it is imperative that the tissues inside the mouth remain clean and free from infection to maintain the success of the dental implants that support the overdenture and the overall health of the mouth. In addition to snap-on dentures, there are a few other kinds of overdentures that may work best in specific situations, so be sure to talk to your dentist about your options if you’re missing multiple teeth. These overdentures are far more stable than removable dentures and can be expected to remain in place while eating or talking, providing a comfortable and attractive replacement option for many people.
If you’re only missing one tooth, you may choose to fill the gap with a dental bridge. Just like the name implies, a dental bridge connects two structures on either side. A bridge can be supported by crowns on either side, and these crowns are supported either by the adjacent teeth or by dental implants. Sometimes, it’s necessary to modify the adjacent healthy teeth in order to place the crowns that will support the bridge, and this may not be an optimal choice for everyone, though bridges may be particularly preferable in highly visible areas of the mouth, like the top front teeth, where only a single tooth is missing.