Dental prosthetic (or Prosthodontics) is a type of dentistry that seeks to fix lost, broken or damaged teeth by installing a prosthetic piece over or in place of the affected tooth. Dental prosthetics can restore people’s confidence in their smile, their ability to bite and speak normally, their dental hygiene and their overall mouth comfort. Like all prosthetics, dental prosthetics can be fixed or removable.
Some different types of dental prosthetics are:
– Dental Implants
– Dentures (full and partial)
Crowns are sometimes called dental caps, which is a good description of what they are. Crowns are a type of dental restoration that completely caps or covers a tooth or dental implant. They are typically bonded to the teeth using dental cement and they can be made out of many materials.
A bridge is a fixed dental prosthetic used to replace missing teeth by permanently adhering one or more artificial teeth to adjacent teeth or dental implants. It can sometimes look like a row of teeth glued together at the sides, forming a “bridge” that is then fixed into a gap in the mouth.
Dental Implants are a surgical component that connects directly to the bone of the jaw or skull and serves as a mechanical fixture which the crown, bridge or denture can be firmly attached to. It is common for the dental implant (usually made of titanium) to connect to an abutment, which serves as a middle piece that connects the implant to the crown.
Abutments are the connecting piece that joins the dental implant with the crown. They can be made entirely of titanium or have a ceramic cover that hides the exposed metal.
Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth. The difference between a denture and a crown or a bridge is that dentures normally are composed of prosthetic teeth attached to artificial gums and the entire piece fits on top of the user’s real gums. Dentures are normally easily removable and can be complete (all the teeth on the top arch or the bottom arch) or partial.
Crowns and other dental prosthetics can be made of lots of different materials. Pieces that are typically made of metal, like abutments or dental implants, are most often made of titanium, because it has been scientifically proven to be non-toxic and non-allergenic. Prosthetic teeth are usually made of materials that mimic the aesthetic of a tooth, although metal crowns are also very common.
Zirconia is a very strong ceramic material commonly used in prosthetic dentistry. Nowadays it is normal for crowns and bridges to be made from a monolithic block of Zirconia, which is milled, sintered and shaped to fit perfectly in the patient’s smile, and then coated with a thin layer of glaze to achieve the natural aesthetic of regular teeth.
E.MAX is another very strong glass ceramic material that is becoming more and more popular as a dental prosthetic. It is made out of Lithium Disilicate and has the advantage of having a natural translucency very similar to real teeth.
Crystal Ultra is a brand new nano-ceramic material that is becoming more popular all the time. Its mix of strength and elasticity is far better than other ceramic dental materials, which means that biting and chewing feels more natural than with other materials. They are considered to be the prosthetic that closest resembles the feel of natural teeth.
Metal crowns are still used today, although they are far less common than they were in the past, due to the wide variety of quality alternatives that actually resemble the color of natural teeth. Metal crowns are usually made out of gold, nickel, chromium or palladium, and their main advantage is how strong and durable they are.