Do you want to improve your smile?
The concepts and rules dictating the development of a pleasing smile were determined by prosthodontists almost a century ago in order to make dentures appear more natural. Prosthodontists receive extensive training in veneers, crowns/caps, bridges and the correction of esthetic imbalances of a smile. Doesnít your smile deserve a specialistís care?
Do you wear dentures?
When dealing with extensive decay and/or periodontal (gum) disease, many people must resort to dentures to replace their natural teeth. Over time, the jawbone shrinks, and successfully wearing dentures becomes more and more of a challenge. Using skills and techniques based on research and experience, a prosthodontist possesses the ability to provide the best possible custom-fitted dentures. Your prosthodontist may recommend dental implants to stabilize the denture and prevent your jawbone from excessive shrinking.
Are you missing one or more teeth?
If you are missing one or more teeth, you should consult a prosthodontist. Depending on the number of missing teeth, the condition of the remaining teeth and the patientís age, motivation and desire, teeth may be replaced by implant-supported crowns/bridges, conventional fixed bridges or removable partial dentures - only a specialist knows for sure.
Are you interested in dental implants?
In the past two decades the use of dental implants has progressed from the extreme to the conservative. Initially the implants developed in Sweden by Dr. Branemark years ago were used in patients missing all of their teeth. Now the same principles are applied to replacement of a single tooth, multiple teeth or an entire arch of teeth with the same high degree of success. Depending on the condition of your mouth and your desires, a prosthodontist can recommend the type of treatment right for you.
Many prosthodontists now provide implant placement surgery as a routine aspect of patient care. In many cases, prosthodontists are the ideal specialist to provide the dental implant surgery as well as the restoration. The success of the restoration depends on the implant placement, and the prosthodontist is the one member of the dental team who recognizes where the implant should be placed to ensure a satisfactory result.
Traditional methods to replace a missing tooth or teeth include the fabrication of a bridge. To replace a missing tooth with a bridge, at least one tooth on either side of the space created by the missing tooth must be prepared for a crown. Then a false tooth is joined to the crowns, and the entire structure is cemented to the prepared teeth. The patient cannot remove the bridge, and special aids are available to keep it clean.
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Crowns cover or "cap" a tooth to restore the normal function and appearance of the tooth. Crowns may be made as all metal, porcelain fused to metal or all-ceramic (porcelain). Crowns are indicated for teeth with very large fillings, teeth that have had a root canal, fractured teeth and misshapen and/or discolored teeth.
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Porcelain veneers are used to modify the shape and color of teeth. Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are etched and then bonded to the enamel of the teeth. Tooth preparation is necessary to avoid over bulking of the tooth, but it is limited to the enamel and usually involves only a few surfaces of the tooth.
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When a patient no longer has any natural teeth, complete dentures are the traditional method to restore function and appearance. Many patients experience difficulty wearing conventional dentures because of poor stability and decreased chewing function. The use of dental implants to improve the stability and retention of dentures is becoming quite popular.
With or without teeth, your mouth slowly changes as you age. But people who have no teeth on average lose 1/3 mm of jawbone height each year. Sometimes that loss is greater due to certain medical conditions such as osteoporosis. As our jawbone shrinks, so do our gum tissues (sometimes referred to as ridges). Ridges can shrink up to a quarter-inch in 10 years!
Your denture was made to fit firmly to the original shape of your oral anatomy. Now that shape has changed.
Often you donít notice the gradual receding of your gum tissues. But over time, your dentures loosen and become unstable, affecting you in any of a number of different ways. This is why dental professionals suggest you replace or refit your dentures every 5 to 7 years.
When teeth are lost and gum tissues shrink, some facial support is lost. This explains why people with no teeth often have deep wrinkles around the mouth and a sunken look to their cheeks and lower face.
To summarize, here are symptoms that may indicate the need for a denture reline or a new denture:
- On-going pain or sore spots
- The appearance of extra wrinkles around your mouth
- Your dentures click, whistle, slip or cause chewing problems
- Slurred speech
- You need to routinely use denture pads
- You or your loved ones begin to feel uncomfortable with the appearance of your dentures.
And a new denture may:
- Help you look better by providing the support your lips need, and by giving your face and smile a more natural appearance.
- Help you speak clearly once again.
- Enhance your chewing ability, helping your body properly digest food and obtain the nutrition it needs.
- Help you feel better about yourself.
Removable Partial Dentures
When there are multiple missing teeth, weak anchor teeth or no posterior teeth to anchor on, a removable partial denture is used to replace teeth. These restorations typically are made of a metal framework and a plastic base with teeth. They must be removed for daily cleaning and at night.
Todayís dental implants are typically made of titanium and may be parallel-sided or tapered and may or may not have threads. These fixtures are placed into the jawbone and allowed to heal until they are "integrated" into the bone. Dental implants may be used to replace one, many or all of a patientís teeth.
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Many cleft lip and palate patients exhibit missing teeth in the area of the cleft and would benefit from a prosthodontistís care in the management of these areas. Although most cleft palates are now successfully closed surgically, there are patients who require an obturator to close the palatal defect, whether it is congenital or acquired. A prosthodontist possesses the skills necessary to fabricate an obturator that will improve the patient's speech and swallowing.