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Knowing what to expect can ease our pain about a trip to the dentist

It’s important to have damaged or missing teeth treated promptly - here are the principal procedures

Damaging or losing a tooth is traumatic, no matter what age it happens. From a playground fall or sporting accident to the onset of ageing, across our lifetimes there are many reasons we may need to repair or replace a tooth.

“Teeth support the anatomy of the jawbone – tooth loss can change your appearance and the shape of your face,” says Mary Flanagan, patient-relations manager at Kreativ Dental Ireland, but she underlines that there are more pressing reasons than vanity for ensuring a missing tooth is replaced. “If a gap in your mouth is not filled with a tooth it can cause many problems such as crowding, crookedness and uncomfortable pressure. This is due to the remaining teeth shifting to close the gap,” she explains.

While many of us dread a trip to the dentist, understanding what’s going to happen will make it easier to take the first step towards solving your dental issues. If you have damaged or lost a tooth, depending on the severity, you may need one of the following treatments to restore your smile:


Dental crowns are used to restore, protect, and cover a tooth which cannot be filled. A crown is fixed on to the outside of a damaged tooth, giving you back strength and function. Crowns can last for 10-15 years before needing to be replaced.



A dental bridge replaces a missing tooth (or teeth) with fake teeth. The fake tooth is cemented to the teeth on either side where a tooth is missing, or where an adult tooth never came through. They are more affordable than implants, though not as long lasting, and more secure than dentures. However, the process can damage the adjacent teeth, causing problems down the line.


Widely used in cosmetic dentistry, a veneer is a thin layer of porcelain which is affixed to the front surface of the tooth/teeth, which gives an improved look to the colour or shape of the teeth. However, in the long-term, orthodontic treatment (such as braces or Invisalign) is preferential to a quick fix for treating crooked teeth.


Dentures are custom-made sets of removable teeth and gums which are worn to replace missing teeth. As we grow older and the shape and structure or our faces change, dentures may need to be replaced or remodelled – the standard rule of thumb is every seven years.

Dental Implants

A dental implant consists of a root, made of a titanium base which is buried below the gum, and a porcelain crown replacing the visible part of the tooth. “Your new tooth feels and looks just like the surrounding teeth,” says Flanagan.

With proper care, a dental implant can last a lifetime as the titanium screw fuses with the jawbone, although the porcelain crown element may need replacing. Where there has been bone loss a dental implant is the best solution to stop bone resorption and grow the bone tissue back.