I had periodontal surgery for gum disease. Two of my upper teeth had to be removed. When I smile anyone can see that the teeth are missing. I don’t smile as much as I used to, which is not good because I am a checkout clerk at an auto repair shop. I have to greet the public every day, so I need to be able to smile without worrying about missing teeth. My dentist recommended a partial denture and I asked him to give me time to think it over. That’s the only option he gave me. I am only 37 years old. The thought of wearing a partial denture has no appeal to me. Are there any other options? – Marianne D.

Marianne – Unfortunately, severe gum disease can cause loss of teeth. Extraction of the damaged teeth helps to prevent the spread of infection to the bone of adjacent teeth, which in turn would result in the loss of more teeth. A partial denture is not the only option for replacing missing teeth.

You may be a candidate for dental implants. Depending on how much bone and tissue were lost, and depending on your medical history, bone grafting may be possible. Bone grafting builds up the jawbone that was lost, so that the bone can support dental implants. Find a credentialed and experienced implant dentist to discuss your options.

An alternative to dental implants is a dental bridge. A dental bridge suspends a replacement tooth between natural teeth that have been crowned. The bridge stays in place, and an experienced dentist will make it look like your natural teeth.

This blog post is sponsored by Fishers dentist Dr. Julia Shalit of Pure Zen Dentistry.