Any restorative dental work that is permanently placed in the mouth is known as a fixed prosthetics. Two visits are usually required for this kind of procedure.
Inlays & Onlays
You can think of inlays and onlays as partial crowns. They offer a more conservative approach, saving more tooth structure, while still providing a permanent restoration that will usually last longer than a composite filling. Inlays and onlays can be made out of tooth-colored materials such as EMAX and zirconia, or a noble metal such as gold. Either is suitable for long-term protection, although gold may last longer, being metal.
Crowns or “caps” are designed to cover an entire tooth. Think of it as a thin “shell” that’s placed over the tooth. A crown is usually called for when more than 60 to 70% of the natural tooth structure is lost due to decay or fractures.
A bridge consists of multiple crowns splinted together to replace missing teeth. A bridge can be a fine solution for patients who don’t want a removable prosthetic and choose not to have implants. As long as periodontal conditions are healthy around the supporting teeth, bridges can provide a very stable and comfortable alternative.
When fixed prosthetics aren’t a viable solution, removable prosthetics can be a great alternative. Most people think of these as full dentures, but that’s only one option. Partial dentures – “partials,” for short – can replace anywhere from a single tooth to several. It all depends on the patient’s needs.
In our St. Louis dental office, we ensure that the removable prosthetics contain no toxic chemicals such as BPA or non-precious metals such as nickel, chromium, and cobalt. We have found the cleanest, strongest materials available to give our patients the most biologically compatible partials possible.
Here are several important things to consider when choosing a partial to replace missing teeth:
- Comfort. Above all, the appliance must be comfortable. If it’s not, you won’t wear it, no matter how well it fits. If it’s not comfortable, it usually winds up simply sitting in your nightstand drawer.
- Materials. After extensive compatibility testing, we use only Vitalon, Vitalon Clear, Valplast, Duraflex, and Zirconia for our partials and have had excellent results with these materials. No nickel, palladium, or cadmium products are ever used in the fabrication of our appliances.
- Tooth preservation. Fixed prosthetics require some modification of adjacent teeth. In most cases, less of this is needed with a removable partial. Especially for patients who haven’t had much dental work done, the least dentistry may be the best option possible.
- Cost. Removable devices are a more economical solution for replacing teeth than fixed prosthetics. While cost is important to consider, though, it’s good to consider the big picture and all options for replacing missing teeth and restoring your smile.