Prosthodontics is the discipline of dentistry that involves the replacement of missing teeth. These replacements are called “prostheses”. There are two types of prostheses – fixed and removable.
A fixed prosthesis is “fixed” in your mouth. That means it does not come out. It is “permanent”. They can be taken out by a dentist, but this is usually not necessary, or only when a newer prosthesis is being placed. These are what a lot of people call “bridges”. But there are other types of fixed prostheses that are common, and very good choices for treatment in the right circumstances.
One of the most common types of fixed prosthesis involves IMPLANTS. Implants have been around for several decades, but are rapidly becoming easier to place, more affordable, and very dependable. An implant restoration consists of the implant core, an abutment that is attached to the implant to hold the crown, and the crown. Over the years, the multitude of original styles and types of implants have been placed, used, and studied. Through this research, the dental profession has eliminated the types of implants that were not dependable, and the types we are utilizing now are proven. The success rates of implants are well over 95% in general, and in many instances approach higher percentages.
Implants work very well to replace single missing teeth, and are the Treatment of Choice in most of those instances. Single implants basically replace the original tooth, and do not interfere with or compromise the other teeth in the mouth. But we can also place implants when more than one tooth is missing. And using those implants, we can place prostheses that, prior to implants, would have been bulky, cumbersome, and removable. And they weren’t always natural in appearance. With the newest and latest materials, we can now place prostheses that look so natural, it’s hard to even know that they are there.
A removable prosthesis is just what it sounds like. It is a replacement for missing teeth that is removable by you, the patient. Dentures and partial dentures are removable prostheses. These are tried and true treatment methods that have been used for decades, and will continue to be used. They are straight forward to make, and well proven in their success. They are usually significantly less expensive than fixed prostheses. And the great thing is that they can serve as a long-term interim for you until it becomes possible in the future to move forward to fixed prostheses and implants.
We can discuss all of these available options with you, and help you to determine a treatment plan and course of action that best serves your needs at this time in your life.