We've come a long way from the "yank 'em" philosophy of early dentistry, before techniques and materials gave us the wherewithal to save teeth. These days, there's rarely a case we can't salvage. It's a good time for dentists - saving teeth is why we get up in the morning.
The way we see it, a missing tooth is more than just a hindrance to normal chewing, more than a cosmetic bother. It's a threat to the entire architecture of your mouth.
The mouth is dynamic. Where there is a missing tooth, neighboring teeth drift, gum disease may crop up, even the unprotected bone ridge is susceptible to damage.
So we replace the missing tooth with a dental bridge, or rescue a broken down tooth with a dental crown.
Bridges are partnered with crowns to resolve gaps left by missing teeth. The idea is to replace teeth with false, or "pontic" teeth, anchored to crowns at either end, and fixed in place. Quality bridgework looks and feels very natural, one of dentistry's mainstays and our first restoration choice whenever possible.
Partial dentures, too, are dependent on your remaining teeth for support, but are attached by clasps or "precision attachments." Complicated partials can be engineering marvels, filling in for missing teeth on both sides of the dental arch. The success of partials depends in part on the strength of attachment teeth.
Complete dentures are not the end of the line, dentally speaking. A good, well-fitting denture can come close to a full complement of teeth, and contribute to a youthful aspect, as well.
Dental implants are the newest remedy for missing teeth, to replace a single tooth, or to support an overdenture. People who have implants all agree: why didn't I do this sooner?
Replace missing teeth with cosmetic dental work? Do it. Restorative dentistry has a way.