If your teeth are missing or damaged, your dentist may recommend a prosthetic dental device to replace or repair them. Your options may include several dental appliances, such as crowns, veneers, dentures and implants. In this post, our Edmonton dentists describe what each prosthesis does, how it can affect your dental health and how we can help you decide which one is for you.
Prosthetic Dental Devices
An oral prosthesis is a dental device that repairs or replaces damaged or missing teeth. Because a missing tooth can affect your ability to chew, impact your jaw bone health, increase your risk of gum disease and even leave other teeth at risk of falling out, it's important to have the missing tooth replaced as soon as possible.
Your dentist may recommend one of numerous types of removable devices (such as full or partial dentures, which can be taken out as required) or fixed dental appliances based on your need. In this post, we'll list five dental prosthesis types and discuss how each may be able to help, in addition to other factors you may consider.
1. Dental Bridges
Are you missing one or more teeth? Typically made of porcelain and anchored to natural teeth, a dental bridge is designed to bridge that gap left by missing teeth and may be comprised of one or more false teeth (pontics).
Your dentist may recommend a dental bridge to:
- Fill a gap between teeth to prevent other teeth from shifting into the empty space and causing dental issues such as gum disease
- Restore the natural contour of your teeth, and the bite between your upper and lower teeth
- Add more security and stability to a dental implant
If you choose this option, here's how the process will unfold:
1. A bridge typically requires two appointments. During your first appointment, the dentist will file the anchor teeth on either side of the bridge to recontour them, then take digital dental impressions of your mouth using our iTero digital scanner. You'll receive a temporary bridge to wear until your custom bridge has arrived.
2. The temporary bridge will be removed at your next visit (usually within a couple of weeks of your first appointment) and the dentist will fit your new bridge into place by permanently bonding it to your existing natural teeth or a tooth replacement they've placed for this purpose. Minor adjustments may be made so the bridge will look natural and work with your natural bite.
A well-made bridge that fits properly may last anywhere from five years to a few decades. Costs can vary widely and are separate from the cost of the crown. Discuss your specific circumstances and cost/benefit analysis with your dentist, who can tell you whether a bridge is the best option for you.
2. Dental Crowns
Significant tooth damage can be repaired with dental crowns, which cover the entire surface of the tooth. A dentist will place these artificial hollow teeth over an entire damaged or decayed tooth.
As for why your dentist may recommend a dental crown, these restorations can:
- Cover a tooth after a root canal or dental implant
- Be attached to a dental bridge
- Cover a discoloured, misshapen or misaligned tooth to change the appearance of your smile
- Help restore function and appearance to an entire damaged or decayed tooth, and prevent further deterioration
- Support a tooth that does not have enough remaining strength to support a filling
A crown is sculpted in a lab based on a unique tooth impression to fit your specific tooth, so that your bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.
Dental crowns are crafted from many strong materials such as metal or porcelain, and look and function like natural teeth. They can last 10 years or more if they are properly cared for.
These prosthetic dental devices are removable, meaning they can be taken out and put back into your mouth. Depending on your needs, they can be used to replace more than a few missing teeth (partial dentures) or an entire jaw (full dentures).
Your dentist may recommend partial dentures or full dentures for many reasons, including:
- Fill gaps left by missing teeth
- Less than half of your teeth have been lost to tooth decay, and your oral health is stable enough that you do not anticipate losing more teeth in the near future
- To prevent remaining teeth from crowding empty spaces
- All of your teeth are missing
- Several of your teeth are missing, and the remaining teeth are decayed
Both full and partial dentures can help prevent your facial muscles from sagging and help change the look of your smile. Factors that may influence your choice between dentures and dental implants include how much, if any, your dental insurance will cover for either procedure. Talk to your dentist about the dental health benefits of dentures, dental implants and other prosthetic dental devices, as well as other factors to take into consideration.
While full dentures last between 5 and 10 years, partials have a maximum longevity of 15 years. This is because both your mouth and your dentures can go through major changes in the time you have your dentures. Care for your dentures by cleaning them daily, soaking them every night in a glass of water or denture soaking solution, and seeing your dentist regularly.
4. Dental Implants
You may choose to replace a single lost tooth or many missing teeth with a dental implant, a small titanium anchor rod that's surgically placed into the jaw bone. The rod functions like the root of the tooth and the abutment is then screwed into it. The implant can be combined with a tooth replacement such as a crown, bridge or dentures.
Your dentist may recommend a dental implant to:
- Help restore the look and function of your normal tooth
- Prevent bone loss in the jaw due to missing teeth
- Prevent your facial muscles from sagging due to tooth loss
- Prevent misalignment of remaining teeth
If you choose a dental implant the procedure will occur as follows:
1. Your dentist will place the titanium rod into your jaw bone surgically, beneath the gum tissue that will then the stitched back together once the implant is placed.
2. The plant will bond with the jaw bone and attach to the gum as the tissue heals. Once the gums have fully healed, the abutment will be attached to the rod. A tooth replacement will then be placed on the abutment to finish creating the look and feel of a natural tooth.
For the dental implant to be successful, you must have enough bone in your jaw for the implant to be placed. If you do not have enough bone in your jaw, you may need a bone grafting procedure before the dental implant can be placed.
Dental implants will require proper care and diligent oral hygiene to ensure they last a long time - similar to any dental restoration. This dental prosthesis can last a lifetime if cared for properly, including brushing and flossing at home and attending regularly scheduled oral hygiene cleanings and exams with your dentist.
The longevity of your dental implant can also be affected by the development of dental diseases, nutrition or genetics. Your dentist can assess your case and provide a cost estimate and timeline for the dental implant procedure, which can take between two and nine months to complete, depending on your treatment plan.
These pieces of tooth-coloured porcelain are custom-made, shaped and bonded to fit your tooth. They are ideal for cosmetic purposes and are a less intrusive alternative to dental crowns and don't require as much reshaping of your teeth.
Your dentist may recommend dental veneers to:
- Help create a more natural-looking, symmetrical smile
- Help change the appearance of discoloured, cracked or worn teeth
- Change the size of your teeth or to repair awkward spacing
The dentist will take a digital impression of your teeth using our iTero digital scanner to create your custom veneers. The veneers will then be bonded to your natural teeth. Because they mimic the natural translucency of tooth enamel, you may find veneers look and feel similar to your natural teeth.
Depending on the nature of your oral health issues and other factors, the cost of dental veneers may make more economical sense in the long-term than other options for prosthetic dental devices and restorations. Bring your specific questions and concerns to your dentist. We may be able to help you decide which option is right for you.
Dental Restorations & Prosthetic Devices at Azarko Dental Group
If you have missing or damaged teeth you'd like to protect and repair, your Edmonton dentist can examine your smile during a consultation and address any questions or concerns you have. While you may feel some trepidation, we are always here to answer any questions and help you decide which treatment option is best for you. The sooner oral health issues are addressed, the sooner we can diagnose and treat them, and perhaps prevent further oral health issues and tooth loss.