Missing teeth

Every tooth counts

To have a functioning set of teeth can greatly improve your quality of life. Not only will you be able to eat well and speak clearly, but you can also look great. Apart from giving you the confidence to smile, having your teeth helps give shape and support to your whole face. When teeth are lost, the gum and jaw bones shrink, the skin around your mouth may no longer be supported properly and may start to sag which in turn gives rise to a premature ageing effect.
If you have missing teeth, or are about to loose teeth, then filling the gap can be achieved with a denture, bridge or implants.


Dentures are false removable teeth that are relatively quick and easy to fabricate. They can be partial, where only one or a few teeth are replaced, or complete, where all the teeth are missing in the jaw and are replaced. A partial denture holds false teeth on a plastic or metal framework. The framework is removable, and is designed to fit around the adjacent teeth. It may cover part of the gum tissue or roof of mouth. There may also be hooks and rests to help hold the framework in; these can sometimes be visible when smiling. Dentures should be removed nightly for cleaning, and to allow the gum tissue to “breathe”.


A bridge uses natural teeth adjacent to the empty space, to support a false tooth/teeth between them. The natural teeth need to be shaved or contoured, so that a crown (cap) can be placed over top. These are called the abutment teeth. The crowns on each tooth support the false tooth in between, known as the pontic tooth.

Dental implants

Dental implants can be used to replace natural teeth. Implants are usually composed of two major parts: the implant, which acts as an anchor in the jaw; and the crown, which is the tooth part visible in the mouth. Implants are excellent options as they do not affect adjacent teeth, yet look, feel, and function just as natural teeth do.

Considering your options for tooth replacement

There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of tooth replacement and it is important to explore all your options, with the help of your dentist.

Dental implants

Advantages of dental implants:

  • preserves gum and bone. No damage to adjacent teeth
  • the most cost-effective long term solution
  • a very long term solution and high average life expectancy
  • an implant is most similar to a natural tooth

Disadvantages of dental implants:

  • initial investment is higher
  • longer treatment period may be required
  • some surgery is required

Dental bridges

Advantages of dental bridges:

  • fixed prosthetic device
  • look, feel and function like natural teeth
  • don’t require removal for cleaning

Disadvantages of dental bridges:

  • the average life expectancy of high quality bridgework is approximately 5-15 years
  • adjacent teeth have to be reshaped to fit a bridge
  • risk of permanent tooth nerve damage and development of abscesses
  • gums and bone often continue to shrink
  • if a tooth is extracted, a temporary bridge needs to be fitted for a few months to allow the bone to heal before a permanent bridge can be fitted


Advantages of dentures:

  • usually less expensive than fixed bridges or implants

Disadvantages of dentures:

  • frequently move about when eating, talking, laughing and smiling
  • can damage the gums
  • average life expectancy of high quality dentures is approximately 5-8 years
  • gums and bone often continue to shrink
  • they can break or be lost
  • they can be uncomfortable
  • some people are embarrassed to take them out for cleaning or at night