Life is full of unexpected surprises, and while we’d love for all of them to be smile-inducing, that’s not entirely realistic—and there may be many reasons you hide your smile. If you’re hiding your smile because of one or more missing teeth, we want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth, and more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth at all.

Whether the cause is tooth decay, gum disease—#1 on the list of reasons, with 50% of Americans over the age of 30 having the most severe form of periodontitis—illness, or injury, there are solutions. Dr. Etchison, Dr. Pycinska, and Dr. Eberhardt at Nelson Ridge Family Dental would like to fill you in on your options, which have expanded and improved over the years thanks to technological advancements and continuing education.

An Ounce of Prevention

You’re probably familiar with the cliché, but in case you’re not, the ending goes: “is worth a pound of cure.” At Nelson Ridge Family Dental, we believe this to be true. We hope to see smiles from all over New Lenox regularly so we can catch problems in their earlier stages and help you avoid the need for more extensive procedures. If tooth decay and/or infection within your tooth’s pulp chamber is caught in time, we might be able to salvage your tooth with a root canal, inlay or onlay, or a crown.

Ye Who Enter Here

If, however, the damage has been done and a tooth needs extraction or has already left the building, you don’t have to abandon all hope. We can either bridge the divide, or implant some pearls of strength and wisdom. If you need to replace more than a few teeth, partial and full dentures are on your list of options as well, and the dentures of today are more comfortable and natural looking than the dentures of decades past.

Let’s Get Back Together

If you’ve got a separation between two or more teeth, a little bit of relationship counseling might be helpful… kidding! What Dr. Etchison, Dr. Pycinska, and Dr. Eberhardt can do is design a dental bridge to restore your smile’s function and beauty.


If the space where your tooth used to be has neighbors, a traditional bridge can be placed using those neighbors, which will be prepared and crowned as anchors. If the gap is in the back of your mouth and has only one tooth for anchoring, what’s called a Cantilever bridge can be crafted and bonded for security. The third type of bridge that can replace a missing tooth is called a Maryland. Maryland bridges have metal wings that are bonded directly to your neighboring teeth for support, without the need for preparing and fitting them with crowns.

Finding the Right Fit

If all or most of your teeth require replacement, dentures are another option—one that has expanded and improved over time. Dr. Etchison, Dr. Pycinska, and Dr. Eberhardt can help New Lenox residents choose which type is best for their case, between conventional, immediate, and overdentures. Going the conventional route means allowing for a healing period before they’re fitted, which can take several months. Immediate dentures can be placed after remaining teeth have been extracted, thanks to measurements being taken and models being created of your mouth and jaw during a preliminary visit. Overdentures are a great option if you have healthy teeth remaining, as they can fit over the top of your tooth roots along with implants, which gives them a more natural feel and appearance. You may experience discomfort during your adjustment period, but we will do all we can to ensure your oral health and function return.

The Long Haul

Whether you’re missing one tooth, a couple of teeth, or all of them, the #1 recommended solution by doctors and patients is dental implants. Their versatility and ability to preserve your jawbone by mimicking your tooth root are unmatched. Dental implants are small posts made of biocompatible titanium that are inserted into your jawbone, fitted with an abutment, and then capped with a beautiful, durable, porcelain crown, bridge, or a full set of dentures. Besides them bearing the closest resemblance physically and aesthetically to your natural teeth, they can also last a lifetime with proper care.

The Final Verdict

The jury is not out when it comes to replacing missing teeth. It’s important not just because the hole they leave can hurt your self-confidence—it can also hurt your oral health. Surrounding teeth may shift and alter your bite, and without that root, your jawbone starts to deteriorate, causing a sunken-in facial appearance. If you’ve been missing one or more teeth for a while, you know it also impacts your diet and the way you speak. Dr. Etchison, Dr. Pycinska, and Dr. Eberhardt are able and would be honored to restore your smile to the healthy, beautiful state you deserve. Contact Nelson Ridge Family Dental today to make an appointment!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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