7 Ways Prosthodontists Can Transform Your Smile

Prosthodontists treatments that can transform your smile

Prosthodontists can help you regain confidence in your smile.

Prosthodontists can transform your self-confidence by helping you to resolve a wide range of issues with your smile, improving the health, function, and appearance of your teeth in the process. Once your treatment is complete, you may find yourself smiling more thanks to your new-found confidence. While a prosthodontist is a specialist who has taken extra years of study to learn all the ins and outs of even the most difficult cases, our very own Boise dentist, Dr. Staley, is experienced in a number of common prosthodontic treatments.

So if you’re considering prosthodontic treatment but aren’t sure exactly what to expect, here’s a breakdown of 7 treatments to transform your smile.

1. Veneers

Veneers are thin sheets of porcelain that are permanently placed over your natural teeth to help revitalize your smile. In addition to mimicking natural teeth perfectly, porcelain is durable and stain-resistant, so veneers last about 15 years if you use proper oral hygiene. They’re used to close small gaps between teeth and restore teeth that are permanently stained, crooked, unevenly shaped, chipped, cracked, or broken. While veneers can simply be a cosmetic treatment, they can also protect vulnerable teeth from further injury or decay. Every aspect of your veneers, including their size, shape, and shade, is designed specifically for you so that you’ll love your revitalized smile. Getting veneers takes several weeks and involves two procedures at our office, but both are simple and involve little to no localized anesthetic.

2. Crowns

Because dental crowns allow you to restore a damaged tooth while retaining much of its structure, they are useful in a variety of situations. They restore teeth that are broken, decayed, or severely worn down, and protect weak teeth that are vulnerable to injury. Crowns are less expensive than tooth extractions and require a shorter recovery time—plus, retaining your natural teeth is better for your long-term oral health. Just like veneers, your crown is designed specifically for you to ensure that it fits perfectly and looks exactly like a natural tooth. Porcelain is the most popular material for crowns, lasting about 15 years with good oral hygiene.

Generally, porcelain crowns take at least two appointments to place since your crown needs to be made in an outside lab. During the first appointment, Dr. Staley numbs and prepares your tooth, takes molds of it, and fits it with a temporary crown. After a few weeks, you’ll return so that Dr. Staley can replace the temporary crown with your permanent one and check your bite to ensure it fits properly. Cutting-edge CEREC technology, however, has made it possible for you to save time by getting your crown in a single appointment. It allows Dr. Staley to create a 3D digital model of your teeth, which he uses to design your crown. The crown mills right in our office in around an hour, so Dr. Staley is able to prepare your tooth and place your permanent crown all in one visit. Same day crowns are not suitable for all situations, however, but Dr. Staley will be able to talk you through your options during your consultation.

3. Dental Implants

If you’ve lost one or more teeth, dental implants are a great way to restore the function and beauty of your smile while protecting your long-term oral health. They consist of a titanium rod that is implanted directly into your jawbone, mimicking the root of a natural tooth, which is topped with a dental prosthetic such as a crown, bridge, or dentures. They look and feel like natural teeth, keep your teeth from shifting in your mouth, and prevent bone loss in your jaw. Your implants will last you a lifetime, but the tooth replacement on top of the implant will need to be replaced occasionally due to wear and tear.

Unfortunately, implants take multiple procedures over the course of several months to place and not everyone is a good fit for them. If you have severe bone loss in your jaw or health conditions that hinder healing, you might need to look into other treatments. As a result, it’s important for you to speak to Dr. Staley and, if necessary, your physician to ensure that implants are a good match for you.

4. Fixed Dental Bridges

Fixed bridges replace one or more teeth, making it easier to eat and speak as well as improving the appearance of your smile. They’re usually made of porcelain fused to metal and last up to 15 years with good care. They’re anchored by placing a crown on each tooth that sits next to the gap in your smile, which is then filled by the pontics, or false teeth, that are attached to the crowns. The biggest downside of fixed bridges is that placing the crowns requires extensive dental work to be done on healthy teeth, but this setup offers added stability that allows you to eat without worrying about your bridge. Bridges need to be created in an outside lab and take two appointments to place—the first to prepare your teeth, take molds, and place a temporary bridge, and the second to place your permanent bridge.

5. Complete Dentures

If you have lost all of your teeth, complete dentures can transform your everyday life. Dentures do more than simply give you your smile back—they fill out the skin of your face, making it look less wrinkly and sunken-in, and help you to look younger. We use our teeth to form many vital sounds, so dentures also make it easier for you to speak, and while it’s true that you’ll need to give up tough or hard foods, dentures still vastly improve your ability to eat. Despite their reputation, a denture that fits properly should never fall out of your mouth. Bone loss in your jaw does change the way your dentures fit over time, so you’ll likely need your dentures adjusted every few years and replaced every five to eight years due to wear and tear.

In order to receive your complete dentures, you’ll need to come to our office for multiple appointments over the course of several weeks. Dr. Staley takes molds and measurements of your teeth to create “try-in” dentures; you’ll need to try several of these dentures over the course of multiple appointments to ensure your dentures fit properly and look natural. Once the details are right, you’ll come in for the last appointment to receive your completed dentures.

6. Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are a removable tooth replacement option that works much like complete dentures; the biggest difference is that partial dentures are used to replace gaps in your natural smile. Prosthodontists and dentists who offer prosthodontic treatments use partial dentures to restore the appearance and function of your smile, fill out your face, and prevent your teeth from shifting around, which would cause large gaps between your teeth and make it harder for you to clean them. The clasps that hold partial dentures in place may be tricky to work at first, but you should still remove them every night to avoid gum irritation. They last between five and 15 years, depending on how well you care for them.

7. TMJ Treatment

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex joint that allows you to move your jaw; it’s in near-constant movement, playing a role in eating, drinking, speaking, and even swallowing. Unfortunately, TMJ pain can make these daily activities painful and may cause severe headaches or ringing in the ears. Known causes of TMJ pain include a misaligned bite, grinding your teeth at night, stress, and even health issues like joint diseases. To treat your TMJ pain, Dr. Staley must first determine its cause by examining your bite and jaw, taking x-rays, and consulting your medical and dental histories. Once he’s determined the cause of your pain, he can begin treating you with treatments like orthodontics, nightguards, relaxation techniques, and realignment, which may involve placing new dental restorations and adjusting your natural teeth to change the way your upper and lower teeth come together. Once you determine the right treatment, you can greatly improve or eliminate your daily pain.

Prosthodontics can improve your daily life on a number of levels, increasing your confidence level and enabling you to once again speak and eat easily—almost as if the clock has turned back. If you’re interested in learning which prosthodontic treatments might be right for you, you can call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Staley at any time.