A dental prosthesis allows to rehabilitate the affected oral function after the loss of a tooth. There are removable prostheses, such as skeletal or resin appliances, and fixed prostheses, such as bridges and crowns on dental implants.
Dental prostheses: what they are
The word prothĕsis comes from Latin. According to the RAE definition, it is the procedure by which the lack of an organ or part of it, such as a tooth, an eye, etc., is artificially repaired to improve some of its functions, or for esthetic purposes.
Dental, on the other hand, refers to that which pertains or relates to teeth. We understand, from here, that a dental prosthesis is the action by which we rehabilitate the affected oral function after the loss of a tooth. However, it can also be performed in cases where no teeth have been lost, to improve some of the oral functions, or for esthetic purposes.
In any case, if we have lost teeth we should remedy it as soon as possible. Eating only on one side can cause problems not only to the teeth that work twice as hard, but also to those that are left unused, as well as to the jaw joints.
Types of dentures and differences
Depending on the characteristics of the patient, one can opt for a fixed or removable rehabilitation, either of a single piece, of several pieces, or even of all the pieces.
Missing teeth can be replaced with implants, which would be the closest thing to a new tooth in our mouth, or with other types of prostheses: fixed or removable, which are attached to the remaining pieces.
Nowadays, there are different options within the old removable prostheses (“removable”), depending on the needs of each patient:
– Skeletal appliances. They have a metal base and fit perfectly with the remaining teeth. They have a very fine structure and are comfortable to wear.
– Resin appliances. The bases are made of a plastic material and seal with the patient’s oral mucosa and bone support. They are usually used for complete dentures.
Fixed prostheses are bridges, which are composed of porcelain or metal-porcelain crowns. Their function is to replace teeth in a fixed and esthetic way, for which at least two abutment teeth are needed, one anterior and one posterior, which will support the crowns of the missing teeth.
On the other hand, a dental implant is composed of a titanium pin that, through minor surgery, is placed in the bone, and an implant-supported prosthesis, which is placed after the integration of the implant and the bone. With a single implant a tooth can be replaced, but with several implants a complete denture can be placed, with much more stability and support than on the gum alone.
Advantages and disadvantages of each dental prosthesis
You should be advised by your dentist, who is the only professional qualified to place, check and adjust the prostheses. Each case should be studied according to the needs and possibilities of each individual.
Problems for an edentulous patient: need to replace with dental prostheses
The absence of a dental piece has to be replaced as soon as possible, so that the occlusal balance of the whole mouth is not altered, which would hinder oral functions and possible subsequent rehabilitation.
We find alterations in many aspects, but we will highlight the following:
– Phonation problems, that is to say, in speech. There are some sounds that are altered, having difficult pronunciation.
– Digestive problems due to deficient mastication, poor crushing of food, forcing the stomach to carry out the part of the digestion that begins in the oral cavity.
– Overloading of the remaining teeth in the mouth, increasing their wear and tear and also causing overloading of the gums, since they are not protected by the missing tooth.
– Bone loss, since the bone that surrounded the lost tooth no longer has any function, it atrophies and becomes lower and narrower with the passage of time. This is very important, since if we allow too much time to pass between extraction and rehabilitation, the correct placement of the dental implants and the esthetics of the crowns will be difficult.
– Collapse of the area, as the adjacent teeth are displaced by the tendency to occupy the empty space. As a result, interproximal caries and gum problems appear in healthy teeth.
Maintenance and revision of dental prostheses
For a dental prosthesis to fit properly, the collaboration of both the dentist and the patient is required. The specialist will be in charge of doing things correctly during the procedure, but after the implant placement it will be the patient who will have to comply with the dentist’s advice. It will be especially important to follow a careful hygiene.
It is essential to go to the dentist to have your dentures checked. The dentist will check that they are working properly, that they have not moved or shifted out of place and that the oral tissues have not been damaged. Normally, the first check-up is usually one week after placement and then, depending on the specialist, another one during the first and third month after. After this, it is normal that they are only performed every year.
Removable prostheses usually need to be refilled periodically (every 3-4 years), due to the decrease in bone height. However, this periodicity is given according to the patient and the use and care that has been taken with the prosthesis.