Dental prostheses come in a variety of forms, but they all serve the same general purpose: to replace missing, damaged, or misspaced teeth and thus restore the patient’s ability to take part in day to day activities. There are a number of different types of dental prosthesis, and each one addresses a different need or set of requirements. So what are the different types of dental prosthesis? Which one is right for you? Let’s take a look.
The most famous type of dental prosthesis is also one of the most common: dentures. Dentures are in effect artificial teeth which are mounted to a hard plate that in turn is affixed to the patient’s jaw or gums with a strong adhesive. Dentures are meant to be removable so that they can be cleaned regularly. Dentures are an affordable, easy to implement type of dental prosthesis which can restore the patient’s ability to eat and speak normally. The downside is that they do take some getting used to. New denture wearers often need time to adjust to the excess saliva dentures tend to cause at first, and to learn to speak and eat normally with dentures in.
Similar to dentures, bridges replace one or more missing teeth with artificial ones which attach to neighboring natural teeth or dental implants. Bridges are generally permanent implants, unlike removable dentures, and in most ways function just like the natural teeth they replace. They require the same care natural teeth do: regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist for exams and cleanings. The downside to bridges is that they often require altering the shape of the tooth to which they are attached, and the attachment point can be a key site for cavities if the teeth aren’t properly cared for.
Crowns, also known as dental caps, are a prosthesis which repairs rather than replaces a damaged tooth. As the names suggest, a crown completely caps or encircles a damaged tooth, protecting it from further damage and allowing the patient to eat and speak normally. Crowns may be either temporary or permanent, and can be made of either metal or ceramic. Crowns are a routine dental procedure, generally installed without much discomfort to the patient. Most permanent crowns require no more care than regular teeth do, and a permanent crown can last a lifetime.
Dental implants are an exciting advancement in dental prostheses, and can do a lot to restore a patient’s smile. Dental implants are a permanent type of dental prosthesis, which are surgically attached to the patient’s jawbone. A titanium screw is implanted in the jaw and allowed to heal in place, and then an artificial tooth is mounted to it. When that heals in place, the dental implant is virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth. They require no more care than a natural tooth does: regular brushing and flossing paired with routine exams and cleanings. A good dental implant will last a lifetime, with all the function of a natural tooth.
So with that out of the way, which implant is right for you? That answer depends on your individual needs and circumstances, so the best thing to do is make an appointment and talk things over with your dentist. They can guide you towards the right solution and help you make your smile the best that it can be.