Dental implants offer a safe, permanent solution to missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures. They are used to support a crown or a bridge and offer a natural looking way to fill in gaps in the teeth. They can improve eating and speaking ability, help prevent shrinkage of the jawbone and enhance facial shape.
A titanium post is surgically placed in the jawbone to act as a replacement root. After a few months, this post fuses with the bone and will form a solid base for attaching a crown or bridge.
Dentures are removable false teeth that can be worn on the top or bottom of your mouth to restore its appearance and function. Depending on the number of teeth that need replacing, you may need a partial denture, which replaces one or just a few teeth, or a complete denture, which can replace all the teeth in the upper or lower arch.
The ‘teeth’ part of dentures is normally made from acrylic, or sometimes porcelain and the plate on which these ‘teeth’ are mounted is made from a metal alloy, acrylic or nylon. Dentures are tailor-made from impressions taken of your mouth and modern materials mean they are much more natural looking than they once were, offering an affordable and practical solution to tooth loss.
A crown is a specially designed cover (or ‘cap’) that fits over an unsightly tooth to restore its appearance and functionality. Crowns can be made from porcelain, ceramic or metal alloys and they mask broken, decayed or discoloured teeth, or those with extensive fillings.
Before a crown is fitted, the tooth is prepared by removing a layer of the outer surface but leaving a strong inner core. Once this has been done, impressions will be taken so a customised crown can be produced. While the crown is being made, a temporary crown will be fitted to protect the prepared tooth. Finally, after the crown has been checked for fit and appearance, it is cemented securely to the tooth.
Dental bridges are a natural looking way to fill in the gaps left by one or more missing teeth. They consist of a false tooth, positioned between two crowns, which slot over the teeth either side of a gap. As well as restoring an incomplete smile, they can improve eating, speaking and the contours of your face, and they also help to keep your existing teeth in place.
The supporting teeth are known as abutment teeth and these are prepared by removing a thin layer of enamel so the crowns will fit neatly over the top. The bridge is then custom-made, usually from porcelain and precious metal, and fixed in place with dental cement.
Amalgam fillings are a cost-effective way to restore the look and functionality of decayed or damaged teeth. The placing of these fillings is an extremely common dental procedure that has been carried out successfully for years because dental amalgam is so durable.
These hardwearing fillings are composed of various metals including silver, tin, copper and mercury. Numerous scientific studies have dismissed any link between the use of mercury and adverse health effects, and it also contributes to the durability of amalgam fillings.
However, amalgam fillings may not be a suitable treatment for pregnant women or those people who have an allergy to the metals in the amalgam. In these cases, or if you would prefer a less obvious looking restoration, composite (white) fillings can be used.
As well as providing an effective repair for decay or damage, composite (or white) fillings blend in with your natural teeth and offer a less obvious alternative to more noticeable amalgam fillings. They are suitable for the front or back teeth and, as well as being an aesthetic choice, they can also support the remaining structure of a damaged tooth to help prevent further breakage and sensitivity.
The composite resin is a mixture of plastic and glass that is layered onto a cavity and shaped to look like a real tooth. They are a little more difficult to place than traditional fillings so the procedure may take longer.
Though considered less durable than amalgam fillings, composite fillings are now made from modern, hardwearing materials, offering a long lasting solution. However, their longevity will depend on the depth of the cavity and its position in the mouth.