You are not alone… A UK survey asked, ‘If you had several missing teeth at the back would you rather have a denture or manage without?’ Roughly half of those in their 20’s said they would rather manage with out and this percentage gradually increased to near 80% for those aged 65 and over.
Whether you have a partial denture
or any other type of treatment is your call, we (the dentist) can only advise you on the possible problems if you don’t and the risks and benefits
of the various options if you do.
Just because someone else says you need dentures, doesn’t necessarily make them the right choice for you. You need to be keen to wear one and care for it appropriately. Otherwise the partial denture may end up doing you more harm than good, with the extra plaque that collects around the teeth causing tooth decay and gum disease.
The potential consequences of doing nothing, are discussed in more detail in our missing teeth
series. None, some or all of the consequences from having spaces may result. Whilst teeth can over erupt, it doesn’t happen all the time and many people are happy with the aesthetics and function they get without a full set of teeth. Everybody's situation, finances, expectations, priorities and opinions are different.
People who restore their spaces, are generally very pleased they did so. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it can make things down the track, as teeth move and your bite is altered. It also helps to motivate you look after your teeth and prevent any further changes, keeping you away from the slippery slope of “Just take it out!” and ending up with a full set of dentures down the line.
If the missing tooth is the very last one at the back of your mouth, a partial denture is likely to be more trouble than it’s worth. This is because to make this stable, the denture would have to extend all the way round to the other side to stop it rocking. In this position, a missing tooth is less likely to give you any problems and the consequences in terms of looks and chewing ability may not be noticeable. See how you go after the tooth has been extracted
and if you do want to replace the space, a single tooth implant is the ideal solution since there is nothing further back to support a bridge.
If the prognosis of the tooth opposite this space at the very back is not good either and eventually this is extracted too- then you would have a balanced bite and simply end up chewing on your first molars (assuming you don’t have wisdom teeth) . Now there is not going to be any over eruption and the alternative is two implants… hmmm
Everybody's situation is different and needs to be weighed up individually in discussion with a dentist.