A dental prosthesis is any kind of tooth replacement option, made of iron, zirconium, porcelain or a combination of these materials, with the aim of replacing anywhere from one to 32 teeth, so that proper chewing function and aesthetic appearance can be restored.
Tooth replacement options
Tooth replacement options can be categorised according how they are stabilised, how many teeth are being replaced, and what kind of materials are used to make the dental crowns.
- You can fix your prosthetics with dental implants
- you can use a post and core and a living tooth as anchor as well
- you can use a filed down tooth to stabilise your prosthetics
- or you can have a removable tooth replacement (for dentures and bridges only)
How many teeth are being replaced:
- Single tooth replacement (made for just one tooth)
- Multiple tooth replacement (also called a dental bridge, consists of 2 or more units)
- Complete row of teeth (also called a denture, can be on dental implants or removable)
Materials used in making the prosthetics:
- Porcelain fused to metal (your standard run of the mill dental crowns)
- Fully porcelain prosthetics (porcelain fused to a porcelain internal structure)
- Zirconium prosthetics (a zirconium oxide internal structure fused to porcelain)
- Fully metal prosthetics (a metallic internal structure fused to a metal outer layer)
- Temporary tooth replacements (made of plastic)
The primary goal of all tooth replacement options and of dental prosthetics is to fully restore the row of teeth to their original functionality. That means that you should be able to eat, chew, bite and speak in the same way as you did prior to losing the tooth you wish to restore. Not regaining function means you are more likely to have TMJ problems, to have digestion problems from improperly chewed food, to get back and neck pains and the destruction of your other teeth as you try to compensate in chewing and eating. Missing teeth can also negatively impact your confidence and self-image.
Stabilising tooth replacement
As the above list clearly indicates, there is more than one way to stabilise your dental prosthetics. The biggest factor in determining which kind you should get will be your financial situation, and the recommendations of your dentist, who can see and evaluate your individual case.
Dental crowns can go atop living teeth. The teeth must first be filed down and shaped, but then they can serve as an anchor to your new dental crown. Obviously, this only works if the tooth is still in the mouth. This kind of stabilisation happens with the help of dental adhesives.
If the tooth is missing, getting them stabilised either on the adjacent tooth or on a dental implant is the way to stabilise. If the tooth root is damaged but still able to house a dental crown, than a post and core is the way to do it. This way, a healthy tooth root is at least left in the mouth, and the crown is on a post that goes into the tooth root.
How long do tooth replacement last?
Depending on what kind of tooth replacement option you are receiving, you can expect different lifespans. Good quality dental crowns on the front teeth can be expected to last as long as 10 to 20 years, easily. A dental implant will last a lifetime, provided that it was installed properly, and that adequate oral hygiene is maintained by the patient. The dental crown on top of the dental implant may be changed several times, but the implant, serving as an artificial tooth root, should stay well, and should not need to be replaced.
How much do they cost?
The materials used are the main factor in determining the price of a given dental crown. While porcelain fused to metal dental crowns are the cheapest, and zirconium oxide ones the most expensive, and everything else falling in between, this does not mean that in the long run they are the most economically viable option. Consult with your dentist about what kinds of dental crowns they may recommend for you!