“Prosthodontics” is the field of dentistry dedicated to replacing missing teeth and other oral structures. Most commonly, this refers to dentures, but it also includes replacing teeth with a dental “bridge” or dental implants.
A missing tooth can cause a disruption in the function of the entire mouth. Teeth are designed to work together, so when one tooth is missing, other teeth will drift into the gap. The teeth in the opposite jaw may shift up or down, causing bite issues and stress on jaw joints.
When multiple teeth are missing, the bone shrinks. With time, lips and cheeks lose their support and can cause the patient to appear older in age. Luckily, there are various ways to replace the missing gum structure.
To replace one or several teeth, Dr. Vessel may use a dental bridge or dental implants. A fixed bridge uses the surrounding teeth to support a false tooth, or “pontic.” The procedure typically takes 90 minutes in the office and includes an impression of the “prepared” teeth. Our onsite lab constructs the bridge before it is fitted and cemented in place several weeks later.
Implants are another option that can replace a tooth or multiple teeth. They include a titanium structure placed where the tooth once resided. Implants can also be paired with a dental bridge to replace missing teeth, as the implants provide extra support to the bridge.
For individuals missing many teeth, our office can fabricate a “partial denture” that is removable and fits snuggly onto the remaining teeth. There are different styles of partial dentures, ranging from flexible plastic to lock-and-key Vitallium metal.
A full denture may be necessary to replace all teeth and their supporting structure. Our office fabricates dentures specifically tailored to an individual’s mouth. When all the teeth are missing, the bone will shrink over time. While there is still supporting bone, Dr. Vessel may recommend implants be placed underneath the denture. The denture then can be “snapped” into place for greater comfort and peace-of-mind. Our office has the ability to place the implants and make the final denture (see our Implants page). Our goal is to help patients make a smooth transition to dentures.