Modern dental science presents various restoration options for individuals with tooth loss or damage. The field known as prosthodontics includes such common forms of restoration as veneers, crowns, bridges, dentures, and implants. However, the sheer range of possibilities can complicate the search for your ideal solution.
Since different types of prosthodontic restorations offer different benefits, you can narrow down the selection process once you understand more about each type. Take a look at how five restoration options compare.
1. Veneers: Cosmetic Coverings for a More Dazzling Smile
Many people who have cracked, jagged, gapped, or discolored front teeth feel self-conscious whenever they smile, laugh, eat, or talk. Unfortunately, 48 percent of Americans regard a smile as the most memorable feature when first meeting someone, with three out of four adults considering an unattractive smile an obstacle to career success.
Veneers cover up chips, cracks, and other imperfections in your front teeth. These porcelain appliances, measuring a mere one millimeter in thickness, attach to the visible surfaces of the teeth. Your dentist will remove a similar thickness of enamel from the teeth before cementing the veneers into place.
Veneers can instantly improve your smile, lasting for several years with proper care. (Porcelain lasts longer than composite veneers.) However, since they only cover the fronts of the teeth, the rear surfaces remain vulnerable to decay and damage. Veneers cannot provide as much structural reinforcement as crowns.
2. Crowns: Functional and Protective Supports
Unlike veneers, crowns cover the entire tooth down to the gumline. This extra coverage can lend a badly cracked, broken, or weakened tooth the extra strength it needs to remain usable. Crowns also protect the covered areas of the tooth against decay. You can get crowns in porcelain, gold, zirconia, or translucent ceramics.
Crowns can restore full chewing strength and function to your hard-working molars. They can also restore both function and beauty to your front teeth, although this strategy may cost more than veneers. However, crowns cannot fix fractures that extend down into your tooth roots, a condition that typically calls for extraction.
3. Bridges: Removable or Permanent Gap Fillers
When you need to replace one or more missing teeth, a dental bridge can accomplish this goal handily. A bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. A removable bridge (also called a partial denture) attaches to your remaining teeth with hooks, while a permanent bridge attaches to permanent crowns.
Both removable and permanent bridges can employ porcelain teeth colored to match your own teeth as closely as possible. While removable bridges offer easier cleaning, with no need for crown preparation and fitting, permanent bridges sit more securely and prevent your natural teeth from shifting.
Keep in mind that permanent bridges rely on the stability and health of surrounding natural teeth. If a tooth that would normally anchor your bridge appears to have a short future ahead of it, your dentist may recommend a removable bridge or even an implant-based bridge instead.
4. Implants: Permanent Fixes for Lost Teeth
Whether you have one tooth or an entire mouthful of teeth, dental implants often offer the most durable and natural-looking tooth replacement option. A metal post surgically implanted into the jawbone acts as an artificial tooth root. Once the post has fused with the surrounding bone, the dentist tops it with a permanent crown.
In addition to single-tooth implants, you can replace several teeth in a row with an implanted partial denture. You can even anchor an entire upper row or lower denture onto a series of implants. The implants prevent any slippage of the denture while also helping the bone in your jaw retain its density and shape.
Implants don’t necessarily make sense for everyone. The implantation takes months to heal completely, forcing the use of temporary appliances in the meantime. Implants also cost more than other dental restorations. If you have poor bone density, you may need to undergo a bone graft before receiving implants.
5. Full Dentures: Non-Invasive Total Teeth Replacement
If you don’t want to pay top dollar for implants or undergo the surgical procedures associated with them, full upper or lower dentures can replace a missing row of teeth quickly, easily, and affordably. Upper dentures attach to your palate through suction, while lower dentures rely on over-the-counter dental adhesives.
The material you choose for your dentures will make a difference in their appearance and durability. Acrylic plastic dentures offer the most affordable option, but they can wear down after a few years of use. Dentures of porcelain or other relatively strong materials cost more, but they also last longer and look more realistic.
Your dentures must fit properly if you want to avoid slippage or discomfort. Since your jawbone loses density without the presence of tooth roots (or implants), you’ll need to reline your dentures periodically to adjust their fit to your current mouth configuration.
Valley Oak Dental Group can provide any of the prosthodontic restoration options listed above. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and receive expert advice on which restoration makes the most sense for your situation.