Dental Prosthetics

Dental prosthetics are a reliable, cost-effective solution to many of the problems that come with missing teeth. They are made from durable materials that look and feel natural, improving the appearance of the mouth and face, and allowing people to eat more foods.

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See a dentist as soon as possible if you have lost a tooth. The longer you wait, the more damage may occur to the gums and surrounding teeth.

Removable Dentures

Removable dentures fill gaps where teeth are missing and support facial structure. They are less expensive than implants or fixed bridges, and can restore chewing and speaking functions, and improve appearance and self-esteem. Initially, wearing removable partial dentures may require some adjustment in terms of how they feel and chew in the mouth. Over time, however, the muscles, nerves and ligaments will learn how to function again in ways that make this a viable option for tooth replacement.

Conventional removable partial dentures have clasping features that wrap around healthy abutment teeth to keep the denture in place. This helps distribute biting forces to evenly protect natural teeth, and prevent shifting of adjacent natural teeth as well.

The design and construction of quality dentures is an art as much as it is a science. An accurate impression (mold) is made of the alveolar ridges of the upper and lower jaws, and the prosthetic teeth are matched to the size, shape and color of the remaining natural teeth in the mouth. This process is a collaborative effort between the dentist and the laboratory technician.

A more aesthetic and lightweight option is a flexible removable partial denture, usually made of Valplast. These are molded to fit the natural contours of the remaining gum tissue and existing teeth, making them easier to use and clean than conventional plastic or light alloy dentures.

Fixed Bridges

Dental bridges are a popular way to replace missing teeth. They provide a natural, aesthetically pleasing restoration that can last for years. If left untreated, the gap created by missing teeth can result in problems such as bite issues, tooth shifting and deterioration of healthy neighboring teeth.

In addition, it can affect the appearance of your smile and make chewing more difficult. Dental bridges can prevent these problems, providing a functional and cosmetically appealing restoration that helps restore your confidence in your smile.

A traditional bridge involves the use of adjacent healthy teeth to help support and anchor the restoration. These supporting teeth are referred to as the abutment teeth. During the process, the dentist must remove some of the tooth structure of these teeth to prepare them for the placement of dental crowns. This may cause some sensitivity in the surrounding teeth for a short period of time.

The procedure for a fixed bridge usually requires two or more visits. At the first appointment, the dentist will numb the supporting teeth and then remove some of their surface area to prepare them for the placement of the new dental crowns. A highly accurate impression will then be taken and sent to a dental laboratory where the new bridge will be fabricated. Once it is ready the patient will return to the dentist who will examine and cement the bridge in place.

Implants

Implants are artificial tooth roots that are inserted into the jawbone to hold and support artificial teeth (such as crowns or bridges). Dental implants improve a patient’s ability to chew, speak, and smile. They also help prevent bone loss in the jaw that can occur when a natural tooth is lost.

Implants can be used to replace one missing tooth, several missing teeth, or all of the teeth in a mouth. They can also replace the anchors for a removable prosthesis.

Before surgery, the doctor will review your medical history, take X-rays or 3D images of your mouth, and discuss your options. The surgeon will then perform the implant surgery. During this procedure, you will be given anesthesia to control any pain or discomfort.

Following the surgery, you will need to allow time for healing. During this time, the implant and jawbone will start growing, or fusing together, to create a strong foundation for your artificial teeth. This process is called osseointegration, and it may take up to several months.

Once the implant is firmly fused to the jawbone, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to reveal the abutment, which is screwed onto the implant. Then, the restoration (a single tooth, bridge, or full denture) will be attached to the abutment. Dental implants have a very low rate of failure, particularly in patients who follow the doctor’s and dentist’s recommendations for maintenance.

Partial Prostheses

Removable partial prostheses fill in the gaps left by missing teeth and prevent adjacent natural teeth from shifting. They can improve chewing function, phonetics and aesthetics, but require more frequent adjustments than fixed bridges or dental implants. They also depend on the remaining natural teeth or dental implants to retain the prosthesis, so it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. Use a denture brush, an over the counter denture soak (Polident or Efferdent) and visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

Partial removable prostheses can be acrylic or skeletal and rest on the gums, but do not rely on the edentulous ridge like complete dentures. They have clasps of cobalt and chromium alloy that latch on to the adjacent natural teeth or dental implants. A skeletal partial is more stable than an acrylic one, but may require a longer period of adaptation.

If your prosthesis is a removable partial, it is essential to practice good oral hygiene. Clean your denture daily with a brush and toothpaste, or an over the counter denture cleaner (Polident or Efferdent). It is also important to visit your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and to make sure that the clasps are in good condition and that the occlusion is correct. It is also a good idea to floss around the artificial teeth to prevent plaque build up.