Missing one or several teeth can severely impact your daily life. It can not only affect your general health, but your appearance and self-esteem as well.  There are many solutions available in modern dentistry to either repair or replace broken or missing teeth.

  • Teeth can be repaired with: Crowns, Veneers, On-lays, In-lays, and Fillings
  • Missing teeth can be replaced with: Dental implant(s), Bridges/fixed dentures, and removable dentures.

Gaps left by missing teeth are a problem because adjacent teeth can begin to drift into the space, causing bite problems (it’s important for teeth to work properly together), and oral function when eating and speaking can be compromised.  In addition, when teeth are missing the bone immediately begins to dissolve and shrink, both vertically and horizontally.  Apart from the obvious – an unsightly smile — the bone loss can lead to the loss of fullness of face giving an aged appearance.


If a single tooth is missing, a dental implant is the premier method of choice to replace it.  The implant (made of titanium) takes the place of the tooth root to keep the bone stimulated and healthy, and after several months healing for the implant to fuse (osseointegrate) with the bone, it is strong enough to support a crown (cap).  These are usually made of these four types of materials:

  • Porcelain: zirconia, feldspathic, leucite, alumina, lithium disilicate (max), etc.
  • Gold Alloy (commonly gold, platinum, palladium)
  • Porcelain fused to metal ((PFM), an inner core of gold alloy, base metal, or zirconium
  • Zirconia metal oxide

Other ways to replace a single missing tooth are with a bridge (a prosthetic usually made of metal, plastic, or porcelain).  It can be either a fixed or a removable partial.  Fixed bridges include:

  • Traditional Fixed Bridge: Relies on support from the adjacent natural teeth, by cutting them down for crown placement to bond and support the false tooth (pontic) in the bridge.
  • Cantilever Fixed Bridge: Is attached to one or two of the crowned side teeth
  • Maryland Bonded Fixed Bridge: Has metal wings to permit bonding to the backs of the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.

Removable partial denture:   Can replace one or many missing teeth.  May need metal clasps to secure it.   There is no need to file down any teeth, and this option is the most economical.  Disadvantages include:

  • Metal clasps may be visible when speaking or smiling
  • May move a little when speaking or eating, which can be uncomfortable
  • Needs to be taken out at night for cleaning and soaking in a cleaning solution


Fixed implant supported bridges (partial or full) are permanently affixed to and supported by two or more implant posts in the jawbone.  There is no need to file down healthy teeth for crown placement.  They can only be removed by a dentist, and are treated like natural teeth with regular brushing and flossing.  Full permanently affixed implant supported dentures need at least four implants (the All-on-4 system).  They can have up to eight implants in one arch.

Removable partials consist of a metal framework that holds artificial gums and teeth. Clasps hold the partials in place, but they can be easily removed for cleaning.


An overdenture is a type of removable denture that’s used when there are still a few remaining natural teeth with good roots. Overdentures are supported by and attached one of two ways:  either to dental implants or tooth roots that have had a root canals and filling, giving them a large degree of stability.   An implant supported overdenture must have enough bone to support implants.   Root-supported overdentures must have the necessary number of good quality roots that are free of infection and have had successful root canals.  Natural teeth must be shaped to fit under the overdenture and usually root canals are done. The teeth are then usually covered with metal castings that fit into the overdenture.

Traditional removable dentures can be uncomfortable.   With overdentures, rather than the denture using pressure on the gums to stay in place, the implants bear the pressure of the dentures, so there is no need to use adhesives. They also help to reduce and even prevent bone loss in the jaw that results from missing teeth, and wearers say that the fit and feel of full or partial dentures fixed to dental implants is far more natural and comfortable.


Traditional dentures are the economic choice when all teeth are missing.  They can be easily removed from the mouth and must be cleaned regularly.  Removable dentures are usually made of acrylic, and the upper arch has a cover that fits the roof of your mouth.  If there are some remaining natural teeth, it will be a partial denture, and there may be metal clasps fitted over them to help with retention.

Removable dentures fit snugly over the gums, but new dentures may feel awkward or uncomfortable – a bulky or loose feeling is not uncommon — for the first few weeks or months, while the muscles of your cheeks and tongue learn to hold them in place.  It will take a little practice to become accustomed to eating and speaking with your new teeth.  However, today’s dentures are natural looking and more comfortable than ever.

If you are interested in replace missing or broken teeth in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.