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Prosthodontics FAQ

Close up of Dublin, OH woman smiling about her new veneers by her prosthodontist.At Tuttle Crossing Dental Group, it is our mission to provide you with the best possible oral care. To do this, we provide care to improve the health of your mouth and its beauty with prosthodontics. However, what is prosthodontics? Here are several frequently asked questions regarding prosthodontics.

What is prosthodontics?

Prosthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). It deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and maintenance of the health, functions, comfort, and aesthetics of the mouth.

What is a prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth. Much like every other dentist, they complete four years of dental school and obtain either a DDS degree or a DMD degree. Moreover, like other specialists, prosthodontists complete an additional three years of education and training, which earns them a specialty degree, a master’s degree (MS) or, in some instances, both.

What services does a prosthodontist perform?

A prosthodontist performs numerous services, specializing in restoring damaged teeth. They also replace missing teeth, along with tissues (both hard and soft tissues) in the mouth and face. They use a variety of different treatments including:
•  Veneers.
•  Crowns.
•  Bridges.
•  Removable dentures (both partial and full).
•  Dental implants.

Along with these treatments, prosthodontists can also restore proper bite, treat facial and TMJ pain, and restore the functions and appearance of the teeth of trauma victims, cancer patients and more.

Is a prosthodontist different from a cosmetic dentist?

The ADA recognizes nine different dental specialties. “Cosmetic dentistry” is not one of these specialties. During the three additional years of training, prosthodontists receive extensive training and experience with dental aesthetics and cosmetics. Cosmetic dentists, on the other hand, usually have more limited training and experience. Their training is often received in seminars, or during the weekend, or weeklong sessions.

How can a prosthodontist improve my smile?

A prosthodontist can perform some different services to improve the health and quality of your smile:
•  Whitening. Professional whitening services restore the whiteness and brightness of your teeth. The results are greater than with over the counter whitening products. Chairside whitening (in-office) provides immediate results, while take-home trays provide results in about a week.
•  Bonding. Bonding is a composite resin material that can be used to fix several dental issues, including chips, cracks, gaps between your teeth and teeth that are misshapen.
•  Porcelain veneers. Veneers are another option for fixing minor dental imperfections. Porcelain veneers require a small amount of tooth removal, but the material is stronger than composite resin.
•  Crowns. Crowns provide strength, support, and protection for teeth that have experienced more substantial damage, preventing the need for tooth extraction. Crowns are typically made out of metal, porcelain fused to metal or ceramic. Metal crowns are the strongest, but ceramic (still fairly strong) provides the best aesthetic results.
•  Bridges. A bridge is a restoration designed to replace one to three missing teeth. Typically made from ceramic, it consists of your replacement tooth (or teeth) between two crowns. The crowns anchor the bridge in place by way of the adjacent healthy teeth.
•  Dentures. Dentures have been used for quite some time to replace missing teeth. They can replace sections of missing teeth (partial dentures) or all of the teeth in a single, or both, arches (full dentures).
•  Dental implants. Implants are another option for replacing missing teeth, providing a permanent alternative. They require a surgical procedure, during which titanium rods are placed into the jawbone. They then support your replacement teeth.

What causes tooth loss?

Tooth loss can occur as a result of several different issues:
•  Gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss. It is a progressive disease that begins with a plaque and oral bacteria irritating your gum tissue. Your gums swell in response, pulling away from the teeth, which creates pockets. Oral bacteria then fall into these pockets and begin to attack your jawbone and periodontal ligaments. Your teeth loosen and eventually fall out.
•  Oral trauma. Auto accidents are the most common cause of oral trauma. Oral trauma can also occur as a result of a fall, a sports-related injury or even a fight.
•  Bruxism. This is a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. The pressure exerted by your jaw on your teeth causes the periodontal ligaments to widen, lessening their firm grip on the teeth.
•  Smoking. Smoking, and other tobacco products increase your risk of developing gum disease.
•  Poor oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing are essential to the prevention of gum disease. Ignoring these habits can quickly result in gum disease.
•  Poor nutrition. Just like the rest of your body, the jaw requires several essential vitamins and minerals to remain strong. By not eating a well-balanced diet, your jaw can become weak.

Why is it Important to replace missing teeth?

It is imperative that missing teeth be replaced. Missing teeth can have several serious consequences on your overall quality of life:
•  Your appearance. One of the most obvious results of tooth loss is a diminished smile. Replacing missing teeth helps to restore the aesthetics of your smile, and can go a long way in restoring your confidence.
•  Your ability to eat. The more teeth you lose, the more difficult it becomes to chew most of your favorite foods. Chewing is the first stage of digestion. Improper chewing does not completely break down food, making it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition.
•  Your speech. Teeth play an important role in your ability to speak. They control airflow and allow you to make certain sounds. When you cannot speak properly, it makes it difficult for others to understand you.
•  Your oral health. Gaps between your teeth can trap food, increasing your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
•  The alignment of your teeth. When you have spaces between healthy teeth, these teeth can shift from their natural position, which alters your bite. This can cause uneven wear on the enamel of your teeth as well as serious jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.
•  The health of your jawbone. Your teeth perform an essential role in the health of your jaw. They stimulate the bone, which sends a message to your body that nutrients are required. Tooth loss means this message is lost. The more teeth you lose, the less stimulation. Fewer nutrients are therefore sent. Your jaw begins to grow weak and begins to change shape. This can also alter your facial features, causing you to appear much older than you are.

What are dentures?

Dentures are one of the oldest options available for replacing missing teeth. Dentures have evolved over the years to become more natural looking, less bulky and much more comfortable. They are a removable prosthesis, consisting of false teeth set into an acrylic gum-colored base. The base is created from a mold of your mouth, and are designed to be supported by your gums, and held in place by suction. Dentures can be used to replace a full arch of missing teeth (full dentures), or sections of several teeth in a single section (partial dentures). Partial dentures have the added support of metal clasps that hook onto your healthy teeth.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are the latest option available for replacing missing teeth. They have also quickly become one of the most popular options. They consist of small titanium rods that are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Implants rely on a process known as osseointegration, which is the fusion of your jawbone with the rods. This occurs while you heal. Successful fusion essentially turns the implants into “roots” that support your replacement teeth.

Implants are highly customizable. They can be used to replace any number of missing teeth. To suit your needs, there are several different kinds of implants:
•  Single tooth implants. These implants are used when you are missing only one tooth. A single implant is inserted into the empty space and supports a single crown. This is used as an alternative to a fixed bridge, saving your adjacent teeth from the need to be prepared for dental crowns.
•  Multiple tooth implants. Also referred to as an implant supported bridge, multiple tooth implants replace sections of missing teeth. The number of implants used for this option varies based on your specific needs (such as the number of teeth being replaced).
•  Implant supported dentures. This type of implant provides a permanent alternative to traditional full dentures. Your replacement teeth are supported on 6 to 8 implants.
•  All-on-4® Treatment Concept implants. Typically, implants require you to have sufficient bone mass for osseointegration to be successful. This used to mean that those who had suffered significant bone loss either needed a bone graft (another surgical procedure) or were relegated to dentures. The All-on-4® Treatment Concept allows those with bone loss to experience the benefits of dental implants. With these implants, your implant denture is supported on four strategically placed implants.

Which option is best?

Dentures and implants are both popular options for replacing missing teeth. They both restore the functions of your teeth, as well as your smile. Each has their own set of benefits and drawbacks. A consultation, which includes a thorough oral examination, will help us to determine what the best course of action is for your specific situation.

Along with restoring your eating and speaking abilities, dentures can be used if you have suffered too much bone loss to be considered a candidate for dental implants. Dentures do have a few downsides. For one, they require a substantial amount of extra care. They need to be removed every night for cleaning. They can slip out of place, causing not only an embarrassing situation but some painful denture sores as well. One of the biggest disadvantages of dentures is that they do nothing for the health of your jawbone. Over time, your jawbone begins to resorb and change shape. This means your dentures will no longer fit properly. To avoid serious discomfort, dentures need to be replaced approximately every seven years.

Implants provide a permanent solution to tooth loss. They do not need to be removed. In fact, the only time they are removed is if they need maintenance. They are more comfortable than traditional dentures, with your replacement teeth being supported by the implants rather than your gums. They can, and should, be brushed just like your natural teeth. The biggest advantage of dental implants is that the rods imitate the functions of the roots of your teeth. They stimulate your jawbone, which helps to preserve the health and integrity of your jawbone.

Despite their many advantages, implants do have a few downsides. For one, they require a surgical procedure. They also require a lengthy recovery period, which can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the number of implants that have been placed. You have to have sufficient bone mass for implants to be successful. While the All-on-4® Treatment Concept may work for some, others may first require a bone graft, which is another major surgery that requires a substantial healing period.

Does a prosthodontist do all of the work?

The prosthodontist is considered to be the coordinator, or architect, of your dental treatment. We develop a treatment plan that is unique to your specific needs. It is designed to restore the functions of your mouth, along with its aesthetics. In some cases, we may need to consult with other specialists, such as periodontists, to provide you with a solid foundation for your restorations. Your treatment plan will indicate which, if any, other specialists may be required.

How do I care for my restored smile?

Proper care of your restored smile is essential for ensuring that it stays healthy and beautiful. Brushing and flossing daily will help to reduce the amount of plaque and bacteria buildup in your mouth, reducing your risk of gum disease. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will also help. A well-balanced diet will ensure that your teeth and jaw get the nutrients they need. Quitting smoking will improve both your overall health and your oral health (and appearance). For ceramic, porcelain and composite resin restorations, it is important that you avoid biting on anything too hard, as your restorations can chip or fracture. Finally, regular dental visits at least twice a year will not only help your teeth (and gums) to stay healthy, but it will also allow us to assess the condition of your restorations to ensure that they are in good shape.

If you have any questions regarding prosthodontics or are ready to schedule your consultation, contact Tuttle Crossing Dental Group today at (614) 798-0083!

5155 Bradenton Ave, Suite 110, , Dublin, OH 43017

(614) 798-0083
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