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Crowns, Bridges, Dentures, Implants

Tooth Replacement Information

05/02/2007

Question:

Today April 19th, I had my upper left first molar extracted because it was beyond repair. I am 47, male. I have only one wisdom tooth which is on the lower left side. I have the rest of my teeth. I have heard much about teeth shifting and the bad results from it. I am on Medicaid, Medicare, SSDI, SSI, and Food Stamps for a disability so funds are not plentiful. I have heard of implants, fixed bridges, removable partial dentures, flippers, and NESBITs. Could you inform me of all my options for that tooth replacement and the cost? Also should I really try to replace that tooth or just let it go?

Answer:

Based on the information you are providing you could have the following options:

1. Implant and crown:

Will be the best option to replace a single tooth. A titanium screw is placed into your jaw bone in the place of the extracted tooth, the bone will grow around the screw, and the screw will allow for the dentist to replace the missing tooth with a crown on top of it. It could last up to 25-30 years. The fees will be comparable to the 3 unit bridge. The crown is glued or screwed to the implant.

2. 3 unit bridge:

Consists of reducing with a dental drill the 2 adjacent teeth and putting a 3 crown structure borne from the 2 reduced adjacent teeth. Connected in the middle by the replacement tooth. It could last up to 10 -15 years, common complications are decay underneath the crowned teeth and nerve damage needing a root canal. The fees will be comparable to the implant and crown. It is also a glued option. (Does not come off.)

3. Removable partial denture both metal or plastic:

Consists of a metal or flexible plastic structure with the replacement plastic teeth. It rests over natural teeth and gets its retention by means of metal clasps or plastic curved contours. This appliance is removed every day at night, and right after every meal to be cleaned with soap and a brush. The cost could be around 50% the cost of the implant/crown and the 3 unit bridge.

4. Flipper.

Is similar to the removable partials in terms that is removable, but made of a less durable plastic. Should be used only for a short periods of time, as a transitional or temporary device.

Losing that tooth will eventually have consequences of other teeth shifting. It is difficult to say how soon this shifting would increase significantly to the point that it will affect your function.

It is my opinion, it is in your best interest long-term to replace that tooth as soon as you could. Because of your financial concerns, you should probably seek treatment at your nearest dental school university, or call the dentistry department of county hospitals (e.g.: Metro in Cleveland) for a review of fees and coverage. These centers usually will have the least expensive costs for dental care with a big emphasis on quality care.

For more information:

Go to the Crowns, Bridges, Dentures, Implants health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jose I Arauz-Dutari, DMD Jose I Arauz-Dutari, DMD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Periodontics
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University