The field of prosthetic dentistry is an ever-growing field and one that is constantly providing new methods for replacing missing teeth. Today, patients can receive any one procedure of potential methods that include dental implants, bridges and full or partial dentures. Which one that a dentist will choose to use will depend upon the health of the patients’ remaining teeth and the overall health of the patient, including their jawbones. In this article, we will cover all of the possible procedures available and any advantages a given method might have over another.
A bridge is a dental device used to replace missing teeth by filling in the gap where the affected teeth used to be. Very often, in order to maintain good stability of the surrounding teeth, crowns may also be placed on the teeth to either side of the dental bridge, so that the pressure when biting is kept as even as possible. If surrounding teeth around the gap are loose or broken, a tooth extraction may need be done, and another device like a partial denture may be used instead of the bridge. The point is to not only replace teeth, but to ensure the continued stability of the entire area where they were located.
Dentures are dental devices designed to replace lost teeth and be removable for daily cleaning. Which form of denture that will be used will depend on how many teeth are missing, on the top or the bottom of the mouth. Partial dentures are designed to fit over the gum line where the teeth used to be, and is usually anchored by a light coating of denture adhesive. The surrounding teeth in the area where the partial is to be placed may be filed down to ensure a proper fit and level bite.
Full dentures are used when enough teeth are missing to warrant an entire set of teeth for either the top or bottom or both. Dentures for the top of the mouth are generally referred to as the top plate and have teeth made out of porcelain, fitted to a solid plate colored to resemble normal gums. The upper plate used for the top of the mouth is a bit concave, in order to ensure a tight seal to the roof of the mouth when denture adhesive is used. A bottom set would be cut slightly differently, to allow for the free movement of the tongue. Each type can be easily removed for cleaning daily either with a brush by hand, or by soaking them in a glass with a dental cleaning solution.
The latest innovation in cosmetic dentistry for replacing missing teeth is the use of dental implants. Made of the same materials found in dentures, dental implants replace individual teeth, making them a permanent part of the jaw line. To install them, a hole is drilled into the jaw, and the new tooth is literally screwed into place. The only way that this would not be an option for a patient is if there is too much degradation of the jawbone, which would be unstable for the tooth to be added. Dental x-rays are usually taken before doing the procedure, just to be sure that it is a viable option.