The primary objective of modern dentistry is to preserve natural tooth structure using well-established preventative protocols. When disease or injury degrades the structure of a tooth or teeth, we act quickly to restore normal function, speech, aesthetics, and comfort. Prosthetic dentistry plays a vital role in the preservation of a person’s well-being.
What is Prosthetic Dentistry?
A prosthesis is an artificial body part. Dental prosthetics are structures that act in the place of a damaged or missing tooth. Prosthetic dentistry is a vital field in which our goal is to restore the appearance and normal function of the mouth in the event of extensive tooth damage.
Am I a Candidate for Prosthetic Dentistry?
If you have suffered an injury or the effects of poor oral health, you may benefit from prosthetic dentistry. A comprehensive consultation and discussion of your needs with Dr. Holbrook enables us to develop a treatment protocol that will give you back the smile you deserve.
Types of Dental Prostheses
Dental prostheses are customized structures that may be fixed or removable.
Dental crowns and bridges represent the two most common form of fixed prosthetics used today. A crown may also be called a cap. This is because the crown sits over the damaged tooth to prevent additional damage. While crowns are often placed over existing tooth structure, this lifelike restoration is also integral to the dental implant process for single-tooth replacement.
Dental bridges contain a series of artificial teeth. Two of these “teeth” are crowns, which we affix to natural teeth that will anchor the pontic, or filled artificial tooth in between the two crowns. Like singular crowns, dental bridges can be stabilized into the jawbone using a dental implant. The use of dental implants has made it possible for dentists to now affix dentures to a secure foundation. Fixed implant-retained dentures stay in place until the dentist removes them for cleaning or adjustment.
Partial and full dentures are removable prosthetics that replace missing teeth. Partial dentures can replace a few teeth and may hook onto natural teeth for stability. Full dentures cover the entirety of the upper or lower arch and are usually held in place only by the natural suction that is created when the denture is inserted over the gums. The stability of this type of denture can be improved with denture adhesive.
Implant-retained dentures are also sometimes made in a removable form so patients can enjoy the stability of dental implants and the convenience of home denture care.
Prosthetic Dentistry Before & After
Is Prosthetic Dentistry Necessary?
According to the American Academy of Prosthodontists, more than 36 million Americans are edentulous, meaning they have no teeth. The number of people in our country who are missing at least one tooth sits at around 120 million. These individuals are at risk for several problems related to the loss of natural tooth structure. Tooth loss affects:
Bone tissue is no different than muscle tissue when it comes to strength; it needs to be stimulated. With our muscles, we stimulate them by moving them. The act of chewing stimulates bone in the jaw. When teeth meet during mastication, force travels through them and their roots into the jawbone. In one 25-year study, x-rays demonstrated the continued loss of bone in the absence of teeth.
Studies also indicate the soft tissue decreases over time when there is inadequate bone structure beneath. The thinning of the gums in addition to tooth loss increases space in the mouth. If tooth replacement does not occur, this extra space can eventually lead to enlargement of the tongue and the loss of sufficient muscle control in the mouth.
Changes to the natural curves of the face coincide with the aging process. Untreated tooth loss can speed up this process. Teeth create height between the lower jaw and the nose. In the absence of teeth, the decrease in space then exacerbates the lengthening of the top lip that occurs with age. The cheeks and lips may also sink inward when teeth do not support soft tissues.
Patients who present with missing teeth often experience a compromised quality of life such as loss of self esteem, loss of function and compromised esthetics. In one study, it was discovered that 25 percent of the patients who seek tooth replacement treatment have ongoing speech difficulties, many of them significant. People without sufficient tooth structure also do not consume the amount of healthy natural foods that the body needs for good health. Discomfort and instability may lead to self-consciousness that ultimately degrades the quality of life.
Prosthetic Dentistry Costs
The cost of prosthetic dentistry services is calculated at the time of your consultation and is based on several factors, including the extent of restoration that is necessary and the materials that are selected for dental prosthetics.