- Dental implants. These are a relatively new development, and the most popular choice. Your dentist will drill a titanium implant (much like a screw) into your tooth cavity, leaving a section called the abutment sticking out from your jaw. A crown is then attached to the abutment, specifically styled and colored to match your natural teeth. Dental implants are favored because they don't affect eating habits, don't cause any extra discomfort, and don't need to be regularly maintained (beyond normal brushing, of course). Best of all, they have a success rate of 98%!
- Bridges: Bridges are the second-most common choice when it comes to replacing a missing tooth. They involve the creation of three fake teeth, the middle one which will take the place of the one that's missing in your mouth. The two teeth on either side of the absent tooth need to be filed down so the artificial teeth can be affixed to them -- this forms a "bridge" over the missing tooth.
- Partial dentures: Partial dentures only fill in a few missing teeth, rather than your entire mouthful. A mold is taken of the roof of your mouth, and the false tooth is attached to it. Dentures, in all their forms, are becoming less and less popular due to their side effects: they need to be removed in order to eat and are not secured, so they can cause speech problems in addition to discomfort.
Everyone -- and every smile -- is different; talk to your doctor about which tooth replacement option is best for you, and you'll be grinning like a loon before you know it!