Missing Teeth

At Washington State Prosthodontics and Dental Implant Center, our doctors, Dr. Russell Johnson and Dr. Michael Johnson are the only board certified prosthodontists in Bellevue, and two of only a handful in the entire state of Washington. You might be wondering why this is relevant, don’t worry we’re getting there! According to the American Dental Association, a prosthodontist is a dental specialist whose practice is limited to the restoration of the natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth with artificial substitutes. In simpler terms, prosthodontists are the dental implant experts! Not only are they dental implant experts, but their expertise is in restoring your smile using the best dental technology and products, meaning they are also experts in cosmetic and aesthetic treatments, crowns, bridges, dentures, and veneers.

The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth

Are you missing one or multiple teeth? If the answer is yes, it is extremely important to get it taken care of by your dentist as soon as possible. Yes, even if the missing tooth is in the back where no one can see! Why? Because the longer you are missing a tooth or teeth, the greater risk of the bone and gum ridges shrinking. If your body is not using a part, in this case the bone that holds the teeth, it atrophies. It takes the calcium from the bone and puts it somewhere else where it’s needed. If left untreated, the atrophy of your jawbone or gums can cause much greater problems down the line.

If you have missing teeth and are looking into how to solve this problem, we know the amount of information can be overwhelming and confusing. At Washington State Prosthodontics, our goal is to educate our patients so they feel comfortable and confident making the decision that is best for their health. Let’s get into the four main solutions for missing teeth; bridges, dentures, implants, and crowns.

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is a common way to replace missing teeth while also helping to maintain the shape of your face and alleviate stress on your bite. It replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth and literally “bridges” the gap where one or more teeth used to be (American Dental Association, 2023). We offer three different types of dental bridges at Washington State Prosthodontics; traditional bridges, cantilever bridges, and Maryland bonded bridges. The type of bridge that we recommend will vary and depends on the situation and the health of the patient, but each type of bridge has advantages and benefits. You can learn all about dental bridges here.

Traditional Bridges

Traditional bridges utilize two crowns on either side of the missing tooth with a pontic (an artificial tooth fixed to a bridge) in between the crowns, and they are typically made from porcelain fused to either metal or ceramics. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge we use at Washington State Prosthodontics.

Cantilever Bridges

This type of bridge is an option when it isn’t possible to anchor the bridge to a natural tooth on either side of a gap but rather only one anchor tooth on one side of the gap. Cantilever bridges aren’t usually recommended to be used in the back of your mouth because it can put too much force on the other anchor teeth, thus causing unwanted damage. Because of this, cantilever bridges aren’t used very often and are typically a second choice for most doctors.

Maryland Bonded Bridges

Maryland bonded bridges are also referred to simply as Maryland bridges and are also known as resin-bonded bridges. These types of bridges can be made from a wider variety of materials such as porcelain, porcelain that has been fused to metal, and plastic with an underlying metal and porcelain framework. They work by fusing the porcelain or metal wings to your existing teeth on just one side of the bridge.


Dentures, which are another option to replace missing teeth, are natural looking replacement teeth that are also removable. There are two types of dentures: full and partial. Full dentures are necessary when all of a patient’s natural teeth have been removed. They can be placed after the gum tissue has healed, which can take several months, or immediately after the teeth have been removed. In this instance, frequent adjustments will be needed in the first few months of use.

Partial dentures are used when a patient still has natural teeth. The partial dentures are attached to a metal frame that is connected to those teeth and are used to fill in where permanent teeth have been removed or are missing. Partial dentures are a great removable alternative to dental bridges.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a replacement for the root of a tooth. It consists of an artificial titanium post that is surgically fixed into the jawbone where the root of the natural tooth would be. The titanium post allows for bone to continue to grow around the screw, keeping the implant firm in place. Over time, the implant heals with the jawbone creating an extremely solid foundation, and this is the one of the main reasons why dental implants are becoming the gold standard for replacing missing teeth.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are used to strengthen a tooth or to improve its shape, and are therefore considered to be a cosmetic restoration. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, or both, with porcelain being the option that is most often preferred due to the fact that they are strong and look almost identical to natural teeth. Crowns are ‘cemented’ onto existing teeth, essentially becoming the tooth’s new outer surface. An onlay, or a partial crown, is another option and is needed when a tooth is not strong enough to hold a filling on its own.

Restore Your Smile at Bellevue’s Top Prosthodontist

The only true way to determine the best treatment to replace your missing teeth is to consult with an expert. Our prosthodontists conduct a thorough evaluation to determine what the best solution is for you. Schedule a consultation, or give us a call today, and start on your journey to the smile you deserve!