Replacing a Missing Tooth: What Are Your Options?

A missing tooth can be a source of embarrassment and can also lead to other dental problems. Fortunately, there are several ways to replace a missing tooth, depending on the cause of the tooth loss and the condition of your teeth and gums. Here are your top options. 

Replacing a Missing Tooth: What Are Your Options?
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Dental Implant

A dental implant is the most common way to replace a missing tooth. A small titanium post is surgically implanted into the jawbone, and a custom-made dental crown is attached to the post. If you look at a dental implant picture, you'll see that dental implants look like natural teeth. Before you get a dental implant, your jawbone must be strong enough to support the implant. If it's not, you may need a bone graft (in addition to or instead of an implant). The dental implant replacement cost depends on whether you opt for one tooth or more teeth.

Dental Bridge

If you are missing one or several back teeth, a bridge might be an option for you. A dental bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, or "crowns," that fit securely over the two adjacent natural teeth and function just like your natural teeth. The bridge essentially spans the gap where the tooth is missing and holds replacement crowns in place. Bridges can be made from porcelain and metal alloys, or all-porcelain. They are typically attached to the teeth using dental cement or metal clasps. The dental bridge replacement cost varies depending on the number of crowns needed and the materials used.


Dentures are removable appliances used to replace missing teeth and the surrounding gum tissue. Dentures can be a great way to restore your smile and your ability to chew, speak and laugh. Depending on whether you have upper or lower dentures, they will either snap onto the remaining teeth or sit in your mouth against the gums. If you decide on dentures, watch our denture care video to learn how to properly clean and care for them. Dentures replacement cost varies depending on the type of dentures you choose (full or partial) and the materials used.

Dental Crown

If a tooth is cracked, damaged, or has a large cavity, a dental crown might be the best option for you. A dental crown, also known as a cap, is a tooth-shaped "crown" that is placed over the existing tooth to restore its shape, size, and strength. The dental crown replacement cost varies depending on the materials used but is typically more expensive than a dental bridge or dentures.

The process starts with the removal of a small amount of enamel from your tooth. Your tooth is then shaped to create a well for the crown, and your dentist or dental hygienist fits the crown into place. The type of cement used depends on which kind of crown you have - metal or porcelain fused to metal. Finally, a temporary crown is placed over the tooth to protect it while you await the delivery of your permanent crown.

Root Canal

If a tooth has been badly damaged or infected, you might need to have a root canal. Most people don't need a tooth extracted after getting a root canal. The root canal replacement cost varies depending on the number of teeth treated and the materials used.

The process starts by taking an X-ray of the affected tooth. If the pulp and nerve are damaged or infected, your dentist will remove them with a small drill. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and sealed with a temporary filling. You will likely need at least two appointments to complete the root canal treatment.

The second appointment will include a return visit to remove the temporary filling and drill down any excess tooth structure. Your dentist will then shape the inner surfaces of your tooth to make room for a permanent filling, cap, or crown that will be bonded into place on the tooth.

After The Replacement

Following treatment, there may be some discomfort as you adjust to eating with your new tooth or teeth. Make sure to inform your dentist of any pain you may be experiencing so that it can be checked out. Keep in mind that if you are missing one tooth, there is no need for a replacement of the opposing tooth, as this will allow remaining natural teeth to settle into more of their proper positions. Here is what to do after the surgery:

Rinse your mouth with warm salt water for a few minutes after each meal.

Gently brush the teeth adjacent to the replacement tooth or teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste.

Take any prescribed painkillers as directed.

Avoid crunching hard foods with the replacement tooth or teeth for a week or so.

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There are several ways to replace a missing tooth, including dental implants, dentures, and dental crowns. The type of replacement you choose will depend on the condition of your teeth and your budget. Be sure to follow your dentist's instructions before and after.

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