There are many reasons as to why teeth are missing. Most commonly it is because a tooth had been previously diseased and was subsequently extracted. The desire to then replace it could be for aesthetic reasons to enhance the smile or for functional reasons to improve the chewing.
Implants: Implant technology is one of the greatest revolutions of the dental profession in the last twenty years. The process involves placing a titanium fixture (much like a very specialised screw) directly into the jawbone where the tooth or teeth are missing. Once healed and integrated, the titanium implant can then act as the foundation to support a crown. The crown is custom fabricated to connect precisely with the implant to replace what was previously missing. When done correctly in areas of adequate bone, an implant supported crown provides a very stable predictable long term solution which will provide many years of function.
Bridges: The traditional way of replacing missing teeth involved using the existing natural teeth on either side of the gap or space to support the prosthetic teeth or bridge. The bridge is a permanent fixture which replaces the missing tooth and also prevents the adjacent teeth from drifting into the open space. Providing the supporting teeth have adequate foundation and strength they are prepared by the dentist to receive the bridge which is fabricated in a dental laboratory.
Dentures: These are prosthetic plates which can carry any number of teeth. Unlike the implant crowns and bridges, dentures are removable and can be taken out of the mouth and placed back in at will. The base or frame of the denture can be made from a strong light metal or an acrylic plastic. There are many design options but usually small clasp arms (clips) stabilise the dentures in place on the remaining natural teeth. Dentures can often be used as a simple cost effective means of replacing teeth.