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Article: Simple, Affordable Way to Replace a Missing Tooth DR. JERRY GORDON
Simple, Affordable Way to Replace a Missing Tooth

There are many problems associated with missing teeth. Common problems include difficulty eating and cosmetic issues when the missing tooth is near the front of the mouth. Teeth can also shift and move when a tooth is missing, creating unsightly spaces between the remaining teeth. There are several ways to replace missing teeth, including a fixed (permanent) bridge, a dental implant, or a removable partial denture. In the past, replacing a single tooth with a removable partial denture was sometimes considered impractical. Newer technology has created a viable and relatively low cost option to replace a missing tooth, the Valplast Nesbit.

The Nesbit is a modification of the traditional Valplast partial denture. The Nesbit can be used to replace one to three teeth on the same side of the mouth and is much smaller and more comfortable than a conventional partial denture. The procedure can be completed in two short visits, requires no anesthesia or drilling of teeth (in most cases), and the cost is substantially less than either a permanent bridge or dental implants. A Valplast Nesbit is generally easy to get used to, and has a very realistic appearance. Valplast partial dentures and Nesbits are made of a nylon thermoplastic material that has several advantages over the all acrylic or cast metal partial dentures. Valplast partial dentures have no metal clasps and are very lightweight. The material is translucent, so the patient's own gums show through, giving a very natural appearance.

The easiest way to prevent cavities is by brushing your teeth at least three times a day, especially after eating and before bed, and flossing once a day. You should brush with a soft bristled toothbrush, and angle the bristles about 45 degrees toward the gum-line. Brush for about the length of one song on the radio (3 minutes) using a fluoride containing toothpaste. It's also a good idea to ask your dentist or hygienist to help you with proper brushing methods.

Partial dentures can be a great alternative, but they do have several disadvantages. They are removable and should be taken out each evening to keep the mouth clean and give the gums a rest. They can also trap food and be difficult to get used to for some people. In general, those who have a permanent bridge or implants feel more confident and are less self-conscious about their missing teeth. Even so, I frequently recommend the Valplast Nesbit for patients who are phobic, the elderly, have difficultly tolerating more invasive dental treatment, and those who are looking for the most cost effective treatment available.

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Dr. Gordon is the dental columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times. He has published more than 300 articles since 1998. Dr. Gordon was recently asked to provide commentary about mid-level providers for the influential dental journal Dental Abstracts.

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