What are prosthodontics?
Dental prosthetics are artificial replacements or functional assistants for teeth and other parts of the mouth such as the gums. Strictly speaking, they’re known as prosthodontics and they come in two kinds – removable (such as dentures) and fixed (such as crowns or implants). They restore your dental appearance and/or function, allowing you to eat more easily and comfortably.
How long prosthodontics last depends on several factors – the type of prosthodontic, the patient’s health, the care the patient takes with their oral hygiene and the regularity of their dental checks. Most people don’t lose their teeth to accidents or serious illness, they lose them to lack of dental care. Some prosthodontics can last indefinitely and some are only designed for a period of time as the patient’s mouth and jaw will change (eg dentures).
Crowns, bridges and implants are fixed prosthodontics and take the place of your original teeth. They don’t need to be removed for cleaning, like dentures, but just because they’re artificial doesn’t mean they need less care.
These prosthodontics are attached to your jaw if it’s an implant and your teeth if it’s a crown or bridge. How you take care of your jaw, your gums, and your teeth naturally affects the life of your prosthodontic.
Implants can last indefinitely if you maintain excellent oral health, have regular dental checkups, and don’t smoke. However they can fail due to lack of correct care, gum disease, severe dry mouth, grinding or decay.
Crowns and bridges are depending on the health of the teeth they’re attached to and the surrounding gum. As they’re replacing teeth, or part of your teeth which have already been removed (either through decay or accident), the remaining support teeth are likely to develop issues eventually. This may be after ten to fifteen years, or even longer, depending on individual factors.
National Dental Care has a five-year replacement warranty on fixed prosthodontics if the crown or bridge breaks, or the implant fails, due to material failure.
Dentures, mouthguards, and orthodontic aligners and retainers are removable prosthodontics.
Dentures are designed to replace a full set of teeth, a partial set or a single tooth. They are removable and are cleaned separately from your remaining teeth and gums. When all teeth are removed for full dentures, the jawbone can shrink for the first seven or so years which means that the first set of dentures will generally need to be replaced in time. Later, full sets may last much longer.
Orthodontic aligners, such as Invisalign, are designed to be replaced regularly to slowly straighten teeth. Retainers, worn after the treatment is completed, are more long-lasting.
Mouthguards which assist with temporomandibular joint disorder, or teeth grinding and clenching, may last from five to ten years. The time depends on your stress levels, as the mouthguards bear the brunt of your grinding and protect your teeth.
When you need prosthodontic treatment
When your overall oral health and function are badly compromised, the dentist may propose to undertake a more complex rehabilitation of your teeth’s form, function and aesthetics. These procedures are done with great care for the effect of any treatment on the aesthetics of your whole face, and the function of your jaw joints.
Prosthodontics takes all the elements of restorative dentistry, but combines most of these elements into one complex treatment, often involving other specialty areas such as orthodontics, endodontics, periodontal surgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery.
In the most complex cases, your National Dental Care dentist may recommend a referral to a specialist prosthodontist for best results.
Your oral health plays a big part in your overall wellbeing
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.