The Basics of Dental Prosthetics

As people age, they develop wrinkles and experience aches and pains throughout their bodies. While natural aging causes your body to wear, similar things can happen to your teeth. As your teeth wear down and become weaker, the protective outer layer called the tooth enamel thins and develops chips, cracks, and stains. Some people may even lose a tooth or several teeth. Thankfully, the best Reno dentist can help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful for years to come.  

a smiling senior after seeing a Reno Dentist

Facts About Dental Prosthetics You Should Know

Why Do I Need to Replace Missing Teeth?

Did you know that one missing tooth can significantly affect your life physically and mentally? While tooth loss may not seem like a big deal, having gaps between teeth or no teeth can lead to bone loss, malnutrition, facial collapse, and other issues.

Missing Teeth Leads to Bone Loss

When you lose a tooth, your remaining teeth will shift from their correct positions to the gap. Besides causing dental misalignment, this movement triggers bone deterioration in the jaw due to loss of stimulation. As a result, the bone that holds your teeth in place loses density and volume.

Missing Teeth Can Affect Your General Health

Since your teeth break down food for swallowing and digestion, they play a crucial role in your health. Since tooth loss can significantly affect your ability to chew food properly, it increases your risk of malnutrition and other health issues.

Missing Teeth Changes Your Facial Appearance

Your teeth and jawbones support the cheeks and lips. For this reason, tooth loss will cause your lips and cheeks to collapse, producing a saggy and wrinkled look. Additionally, the lower third of your face will become shorter, making your nose and chin appear closer to each other, and your lips look thinner and longer.

Missing teeth Affects Your Mental Health

Whether you like it or not, your oral health can impact your mental health. Furthermore, tooth loss decreases an individual’s quality of life or exacerbates their mental health problems. For instance, someone who feels embarrassed about the appearance of their teeth is likely to develop social anxiety.

a Reno Dentist working on partial dentures

What Exactly Is a Dental Prosthetic?

A dental prosthetic is a custom-fabricated appliance created to replace missing or damaged teeth. Besides improving your smile, these devices help reduce the risk of further decay, gum disease, and bone loss. Moreover, dentists offer fixed dental prosthesis devices such as crowns and implants. They also provide removable appliances such as partial dentures.

What Are the Different Types of Dental Prosthesis Devices?

Dental Crowns

A dental crown, also known as a dental cap, is a dental restoration that completely covers the tooth's visible part above the gum line. Dentists typically use a dental crown to treat a large cavity that compromises the tooth’s health and structural integrity. Consequently, these restorations are effective long-term solutions for chipped, cracked, or worn down teeth.

Furthermore, a dental crown may be made of porcelain or metal. In most cases, getting a crown requires around two appointments. The dentist gets a soft mold of your teeth, fills the cavity, and shaves down the tooth to prepare it for the crown. If the dental practice has the technology and equipment to create dental crowns on-site, they may offer same-day crowns. Otherwise, they’ll have the crowns made at a dental laboratory.

While the permanent crown is fabricated in a lab, the dentist places a temporary crown over the tooth. Once the permanent crown is ready, they’ll remove the temporary crown before using dental cement to bond the permanent crown to the treated tooth.  

Dental crowns can last up to 15 years or even longer with proper maintenance. If you want to get the most out of your crowns, it's best to brush and floss them as you would your natural teeth.

Dentures

Dentures, also known as false teeth, are prosthetic devices designed to fit snugly against the gums. Your preference and the extent of your tooth loss will determine the type of dentures that work best for you. Furthermore, the most common types of false teeth include complete dentures, removable partial dentures, fixed partial dentures, and implant-retained dentures.

If you’re missing all of your teeth, your dentist may recommend complete dentures to replace them. However, if you’re missing some and not all of your teeth, they may suggest getting removable partial dentures. While fixed partial dentures use dental implants to support the artificial teeth, implant-retained dentures or snap-in dentures are affixed to implants. However, snap-in dentures must be removed daily for cleaning.  

Dental Implants

A dental implant is a screwlike post made of biocompatible materials such as titanium or zirconia. The dentist surgically places this prosthesis into the patient's alveolar bone, which holds their teeth in place. Dental implants look, feel, and behave like natural teeth compared to other restorative options.

For instance, an implant prevents jawbone deterioration because it is a permanent replacement for the missing tooth's root that stimulates bone growth. Within the next few months after the surgery, new bone material forms around the implant through osseointegration. Besides maintaining jawbone density and volume, implants bring back chewing power, enhance the ability to speak clearly, and restore the appearance of teeth.

The typical procedure for placing a dental implant starts with the dentist inserting the implant into the jawbone. Next, they’ll add an abutment that holds the crown in place and connects the artificial tooth to the implant. Finally, they’ll place a crown over the abutment to match your existing teeth.

Dental Bridge

A dental bridge bridges the gap left by missing teeth. It’s usually anchored to natural teeth at both ends and may come with one or more porcelain pontics or false teeth. Some patients prefer to have their bridge attached to a dental implant to ensure more stability and security.  

During the first appointment, the dentist typically files the anchor teeth on either side of the bridge into shape. They also make a mold of the patient's mouth. While a permanent bridge is made, they may use a temporary one to fill the gap. After a couple of days, the dentist fits the permanent bridge into place and makes minor adjustments.

A well-made and properly maintained bridge can last for decades. It requires regular brushing and flossing, using special aids called threaders that help get the floss between the bridgework and the gum line.

a Reno dentist discussing proper oral hygiene with a smiling senior patient

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