fUh-oh, so you've done it. You finally got rid of that tooth that has been bugging you the past year.
You initially tried to bear with the pain, and told yourself that the pain would go away if you #prayed #promisedtoeatlesssweets #meditated #wereagoodperson #totallyignoredit.
It didn't work - the pain proved so bad that you had to bite the bullet and see your dentist in the end. Amidst all the swearing and sweating, you realised - Hey! The extraction wasn’t so bad after all.
Your tooth is OUT now and you feel much better. Phew. Ok. So now what? Here's a breakdown on the options you have to get your smile back! Since my colleague Dr Sylvia Tan started the analogy with cars, I'll continue with that trend too! ;)
1. Dental implants - The BMWs and Lexus
Dental implants are the BMWs and Lexus (you can see I'm totally biased) of Dentistry. These are titanium screws that you implant into the jaw bone to support an artificial tooth. Once implanted, they should feel and look almost like your adjacent natural teeth.
Dental implants in Singapore cost more than the average dental procedure, but if done well by the surgeon and maintained appropriately, they can last a lifetime like your own teeth.
Pros: Looks and feels almost like the real McCoy. They are fixed in your jaw like your natural teeth. You don’t have to take them out at night. They are generally easy to clean like natural teeth. No one will be able to tell you had bad teeth before!
Cons: Not everyone can afford a BMW or Lexus. The implant procedure is very operator dependent and should be done in expert hands. Not everyone is a suitable candidate, especially if you have an immune system dysfunction or smoke like a chimney.
Dental implant cost in Singapore: $4000 - $7000. A portion can be claimed by Medisave, subject to government approval.
2. Conventional dental bridges - The Toyotas
A bridge is literally that. The two adjacent teeth next to your missing tooth are cut down to hold the missing tooth so it bridges the gap! You can watch this Youtube video on the process of installing dental bridges for more details.
Much like Toyotas, they are affordable and reliable, and so are more “mass market”.
Pros: They are cheaper than dental implants. It’s a very good option for patients that are immunocompromised. They can also be done to look very much like your natural teeth.
Cons: You have to cut down the two adjacent teeth to hold one tooth. It's harder to clean than dental implants. It’s harder for the dentist to detect decay under the bridge as the teeth are splinted together.
Dental bridge cost in Singapore: $2000 - $3500
3. Acid etch bridge - A Hyundai
This deserves a spot of its own, though it’s technically also a bridge.
I like this option quite a lot as it's very much like the conventional bridge, except that the adjacent teeth are prepped minimally to hold the missing tooth.
Pros: Very similar to the conventional bridge, but does less damage to the adjacent teeth! Even cheaper than the conventional bridge option.
Cons: The disadvantages are similar to that of the conventional bridge. Not everyone is a suitable candidate. If you have a heavy bite, this option is not for you. They tend to drop off, and have to be glued back by your dentist once every few years.
Acid etch bridge cost in Singapore: $1000 to $2000
4. Single tooth partial denture - Bicycles
These are the bicycles of modern dentistry. There are much fewer people opting for this to restore one missing tooth. Errrrmm, you can see why from the picture below. Enough said.
Partial dentures tend to only be a temporary solution, and can break very easily.
Pros: Very affordable! Good temporary option before you save up enough money for your dental implant or bridge. Good option for patients that are very sick as caregivers can remove the dentures for cleaning.
Cons: Usually does not look natural as the tooth is made out of plastic. You have to remove it at night to clean and air (pssst so your kids and husband will know your teeth are not real!!). It has to be changed every couple of years as the bone will shrink, and new dentures will have to be made.
Denture cost in Singapore: $500 - $1200
5. Orthodontics - Uber/Grab, whatever you are taking (or is offering a promo code) nowadays!
Orthodontics isn't technically a car, but rather a system to get you from Point A to B in specific missing tooth situations.
For example, if you lose a tooth and you had crowded teeth in the first place, braces might just be the solution for you! With braces, you can shift the teeth around to close the gaps AND straighten your teeth at the same time!
Pros: As stated above (2 goals in 1)! No need to cut down adjacent teeth for a bridge. No need to do surgery for dental implants.
Cons: You need overcrowded teeth to even consider this option. Your orthodontist will have to determine if your teeth can be shifted in a way to give good aesthetics.
Braces cost in Singapore: Variable, ranging from $4000 - $10000 depending on type of treatment. See this complete guide to braces in Singapore.
After losing a tooth, some of you may want to leave the space alone because you still fear the dentist. It's important to remember however that most teeth continue to move in your mouth, right through adulthood! You DO want to restore that space so your bite doesn’t get messed up in the long term!
So take your pick from the bicycles to the more expensive cars in Dentistry, and discuss this with your friendly-dentist (is this an oxymoron?) and make a decision from there! Hope this helps! :)
For any other questions related to replacing your missing tooth in Singapore, head over to Ask Human!
Dr Marlene Teo is a Periodontist (gum specialist) at TP Dental. She holds a joint appointment as Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore. Dr Teo passionately believes in leading a holistic and healthy lifestyle to boost immunity and combat periodontal disease.