Replacing Teeth

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge is a prosthesis that can replace one or more teeth. Traditionally, the teeth aside the missing one(s) are prepared and serve as an abutment (support) for a lab-processed all-ceramic (porcelain) or porcelain to metal replacement. The abutment teeth are crowned, and the replacement tooth is connected to them. Therefore, a single missing tooth is replaced by a three-unit fixed bridge, which is cemented to the abutment teeth.

Removable Partial Denture

The removable partial denture is an economic alternative for replacing missing teeth. As few as four to six remaining natural teeth can support a removable partial denture replacing the six to eight missing teeth. Removable partial dentures are lab-processed of acrylic with metal clasps, cast metal frame with acrylic base, or thermoplastic material (no metal).

Full Denture

Immediate

An immediate full denture transitions the patient from natural teeth to teeth replaced by a denture prosthesis. The denture is fabricated initially and inserted at the time of oral surgery removing the remaining natural teeth. During the first six months, various adjustments, refitting, relines, and often fabrication of a second denture (complete) are recommended as the gum ridge fully heals.

Complete

A complete denture is a prosthesis fabricated for a toothless arch for tooth replacement.

Implant-supported Replacements

For more than 30 years, dental implantology has evolved and progressed, and today, is the gold standard for tooth replacement. Typically there are three components to the implant prosthesis: the fixture, the abutment, and the prosthesis.

Image courtesy of Nobel Biocare patient education materials

Implants most closely replace teeth like natural teeth. The fixture is surgically placed into the bone; the abutment is screwed into the fixture, transitioning into the oral cavity, and supports the prosthesis. Basically, any combination of missing teeth may be able to be replaced by implants. Possible combinations include

  • Single tooth and multiple teeth: fixture(s)/abutment(s)/crown or bridge
  • Partial denture: fixture (two to four minimum)/abutments with attachments/cast metal frame and acrylic teeth
  • Full denture: fixture – two to six/abutments with attachments/acrylic denture