Tooth replacement options: if you have lost any of your teeth, replacing them can help boost your overall health and quality of life.
"Often the loss of teeth without replacement begins a downward spiral in general health due to dietary deficiencies that arise from not being able to chew properly," notes Alan B. Sheiner, DDS, assistant clinical professor of dentistry at Mount Sinai. If you have experienced tooth loss or other dental problems, how can you restore your teeth to improve their function and appearance?
Restoring Your Teeth When it comes to replacing damaged or missing teeth, there are several reconstructive options:
* Veneers These are thin porcelain or resin composite shells that are bonded to the front of the teeth in order to change their color, shape, size, or length. "They can be utilized for front teeth that are worn down, misaligned, and/or chipped, broken or irregularly shaped, but they aren't suitable for molars," Dr. Sheiner says. "As the veneer is very thin, the tooth itself doesn't require much shaping or filing in order to fit the veneer."
* Crowns These tooth-shaped "caps" fit over an existing tooth, and require more of the existing tooth to be filed away so that the finished crowned tooth isn't too bulky. "Crowns are typically utilized to replace severely decayed or worn-down teeth," Dr. Sheiner explains. "They also may be used to support and retain fixed partial bridges, which consist of a false tooth fused between two crowns that are fitted to the teeth on either side of a gap."
* Partial dentures (also called bridges) may be suitable if you've lost several teeth but retain some. "These consist of replacement teeth incorporated into a gum-colored resin base or metal base that attaches to the remaining natural teeth with metal or tooth colored clasps," says Dr. Sheiner. "You may also use special prefabricated attachments."
* Complete dentures are artificial teeth set into a resin base, and are used in people who have lost all of their teeth. "Changes to the gums and supporting jawbones are ongoing, particularly if all the teeth have been lost," Dr. Sheiner cautions. "This does affect the fit of dentures, making periodic adjustments necessary."
What About Dental implants? Dental implants are effectively replacement tooth roots made from titanium. They are embedded in the socket of a missing tooth/ teeth to provide a foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone (which typically takes about six weeks), a post is attached to it, and a crown is attached to the post.
"Dental implants can be a good solution for older adults in whom the teeth adjacent to a gap aren't strong enough to anchor a partial bridge or partial dentures," Dr. Sheiner says. "The finished result is more natural looking, but implants cost significantly more than other tooth replacement options. It's also important to keep in mind that not everybody is a candidate for implants--for example, people with uncontrolled diabetes or other serious medical conditions, and those taking bisphosphonate therapy for osteoporosis may not be suitable. There aren't many absolute contraindications to implant placement, but it is incumbent upon the practitioner to fully evaluate each person's need and medical situation."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* See a board-certified prosthodontist (a specialist in tooth restoration) for restorative treatments--the American College of Prosthodontists website (www.prosthodontics.org) has a physician finder.
* Continue to brush and floss your teeth as usual if you have veneers or crowns, since decay can still occur at the gumline and affect the natural tooth under the restoration.
* Clean dentures with specially designed denture brushes and cleaner.
* Care for your remaining natural teeth If arthritis affects your manual dexterity, try wrapping tape around the handle of your toothbrush to make it larger and easier to grip; or invest in a battery-powered toothbrush.
* If you are having problems paying for treatment, your state dental association may be able to help--visit the American Dental Association (http://bit.ly/2rzrMFJ) for a list. Other resources can be found at Tooth Wisdom (www.toothwisdom.org/care).
Caption: Tooth replacement options include partial and full dentures (far left), crowns (left), and dental implants (below).
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|Title Annotation:||ORAL HEALTH|
|Publication:||Focus on Healthy Aging|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2017|
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