The second molar is the tooth to the rearmost of each side of both the upper and lower jaw. Technically, the third molar or wisdom tooth is the final tooth in the row, but many people have their wisdom teeth surgically removed before eruption even happens. If you then also lose your second molar, there can seem to be a particularly large gap in the rear of your mouth that can interfere with chewing and give the first molar room to shift out of place.
A missing second molar without a wisdom tooth present means that there isn't a natural tooth on each side to provide support for some types of dental replacements, which can change your treatment options.
What are some of the dental replacement options for this scenario? Here are a few treatment options to discuss with your cosmetic dentistry professional.
Dental bridges involve one full artificial tooth, which fills the missing tooth gap, and two crowns or caps that are bonded onto natural teeth to support that artificial tooth. In a traditional bridge, the crowns are affixed to the natural teeth on either side of the gap.
The lack of a wisdom tooth makes a traditional bridge impossible. Your dentist might instead recommend a cantilever bridge, which features both crowns on the same side of the missing tooth. In other words, the artificial tooth would replace the second molar, and the crowns would affix to the first molar and its neighbor.
Placing both crowns on the same side does remove a bit of stability from the bridge, but, assuming the bonded teeth are strong and healthy, this shouldn't pose a problem in your day to day life.
Dental implants are a handy way for a dentist to replace a single missing tooth without needing to involve neighboring teeth at all. Implants do have a higher cost than bridges and the treatment process can take months due to the metal root needing to heal with the jawbone around the root.
The cost and time investment of a dental implant might be a worthy trade-off for one of the most natural feeling artificial teeth available. A dental implant also provides much-needed stimulation to the underlying bone and gum tissue that might already be suffering due to the loss of the wisdom tooth.
Implant-Supported Partial Denture
If you have more missing teeth in the general area of your second molar, it might not be financially feasible to invest in dental implant for all of those teeth. An implant-supported partial denture could provide a suitable alternative.
Implant-supported dentures will still use one or two metal roots inserted in the jawbone. But instead of attaching a single crown to each root, the dentist will attach a denture plate containing artificial teeth spaced out to fill all of your gaps.
The setup is a more stable alternative to traditional partial dentures, which use metal clasps on each end that loop around the natural teeth on each boundary. The clasps wouldn't have anything to hook onto beyond the second molar so wouldn't work for your particularly scenario.
For more information, contact Thomas H. Seal DDS or a similar dental professional.