Dental Prosthetics: What They Are and When They Are Needed, by Dr. Gilbert Abadilla

February 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

In simplest form, dental prosthetics refer to any artificial tooth or tooth structure. Modern dentistry allows dentists to install prosthetics in a variety of ways, in order to fulfill both structural and cosmetic functions.  For less serious dental injuries, your dentist will usually opt for a conservative treatment that preserves the existing tooth structure.  For more serious cases, a total prosthetic replacement may be required.

Minor trauma to a tooth can often be treated with a non-prosthetic method, such as veneers.  Consisting of a thin layer of porcelain or composite material, veneers are designed to look like natural teeth and are applied onto an existing tooth surface.  The dentist will choose a color that accurately matches the natural tone of the patient’s teeth.  Veneers are not appropriate for major decay or gum disease, but can repair minor cosmetic issues. An example of dental veneers is shown below:

If the patient faces the loss of a tooth or multiple teeth, then prosthetics become necessary.  Patients may lose teeth because of tooth decay or gum disease, or alternatively teeth may be damaged through physical trauma.  The two primary approaches to dental prosthetics are traditional dentures and dental implants.

While dentures cost less than implants, they are not suited to all patients. Dentures work best for patients that only require the replacement of a few teeth.  This allows the surrounding teeth to support them, adding to their versatility and strength.  If the patient suffers from extensive tooth decay or gum disease, dentures may be contraindicated, as they can make the situation worse.

Dental implants give a more realistic appearance than dentures and they allow for easier care, because implants essentially function like normal teeth.  Dental implants involve inserting a titanium post into the jaw and then mounting an artificial tooth onto the post. An X-ray of a dental implant appears below:


Prior to installation of any dental prosthetic, your dentist will treat any underlying conditions.  For the prosthetic to succeed, gum disease and tooth decay need to be brought under control first.  To learn more, talk to your dentist.

About Dr. Gilbert Abadilla: A successful dentist based in the Chicagoland area, Dr. Gilbert Abadilla works with dental prosthetics on a regular basis.


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