Prosthodontics is the branch of dentistry that design and implement artificial replacements for teeth and gums. These include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and dental implants and any combination of treatments to restore lost or damaged teeth. Replacing missing or damaged teeth is important for many reasons. Gaps in your smile are not only embarrassing, but they also put you at risk for other dental problems such as alignment issues, bone loss, and problems eating and speaking. Understanding your prosthetic options can help you decide which treatments can get you back to optimal oral health and smiling with confidence.
Permanent Restorations with Dental Implants
Considered the gold standard for tooth replacement, dental implants can give you a whole, functional tooth that is almost as good as the real thing. Implants consist of a titanium post surgically placed in the jaw, and a porcelain or composite crown placed on top. Implants can replace just one tooth, or several by combining them with custom prosthetics like crowns, bridges or dentures.
Dental implants are very comfortable and easy to maintain. The biocompatible material fuses with your body tissue providing vital stimulation to your jaw and preserving a youthful facial appearance. Implants have a very high success rate of about 98%. Because they are so successful and made of advanced materials, they are also costlier. However, if you choose to invest in this restorative treatment, it will most likely last your entire life and be money well spent.
The Versatile Crown
A crown is utilized to cover the entire visible surface of a tooth above the gum line. Made of metal, porcelain fused to metal, ceramic, or even zirconia, crowns fit on top of a prepared tooth with intact roots. Most often used after a root canal procedure, they can also restore damage caused by trauma or decay. Most dentists will take an impression of your tooth and send the information to a professional lab, and they will create your custom crown. With technology rapidly advancing, some dental practices can now offer same-day-crowns made right in their office, so you don’t have to wait two weeks for the lab to send the crown to the dentist.
Dental Bridges for Tooth Replacement
If you have two healthy teeth on either side of the damaged or missing tooth, a bridge will span the gap with a single prosthetic that actually looks like three teeth. A bridge does not replace the root of the tooth but will keep your other teeth firmly in place so that they won’t shift into the space created by the lost tooth. They also help you maintain a strong, even bite, so you can continue to eat the foods you enjoy.
Your bridge will be custom made in a lab from precise impressions of your bite. This ensures your prosthetic will fit perfectly and blend in with your unique natural tooth color. Bridges are very durable, but sometimes they may need adjusting or re-cementing. A good home oral health routine and regular visits to your dentist will help you keep the area around and under the bridge clean and healthy.
Function and Beauty with Veneers
Veneers are slim, shell-like dental prosthetics created from porcelain or ceramic. They are uniquely designed to enhance the size, shape, or shade of your teeth. Veneers are joined to the front or facial surface of your teeth with a special adhesive for strength and durability. Preparing your tooth for a veneer requires having a small amount of enamel removed, so they fit properly. Veneers can produce dramatic results without the need for extensive and pricey treatments, but they are more delicate than a crown, so you will need to care for them properly. Don’t use your teeth as tools to open packages and be sure to attend your bi-annual dental exam and cleaning.
Prosthetics have made significant advances over the last decade. With stronger and more realistic materials and precision technique, the options to improve the form and function of your smile are almost unlimited. Visit your dental professional and discuss how implants, crowns, bridges, and veneers can help you love your smile again.