Losing your teeth as an adult can be quite problematic beyond just affecting aesthetics. It makes it more of a challenge to eat and speak, for instance. Respectively, this results in poor eating habits and low self-esteem. Missing teeth also negatively impacts your physical health. You could contract gum disease or your jawbone could deteriorate. Still, it is common to let tooth loss go overlooked if it isn’t a front tooth, as many believe that it is simply a cosmetic problem.
If you do not want to face the consequences that come with tooth loss, you need to talk to your dentist first, then you will often need to see an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon will be able to walk you through the implications and logistics of the surgical aspects of the treatment plan. This will help to ensure you are not just on the right path, but also that you understand that path and all that it entails.
First, what is a dental prosthesis? A dental prosthesis is a device that a dentist will make for you to replace from 1 single tooth up to the entire jaw (all of the teeth). Pre-prosthetic surgery is a procedure to prepare your mouth to receive that prosthesis.
Not every patient who is getting a dental prosthesis device needs pre-prosthetic surgery. Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will inform you of all of the details and help make sure you are a proper candidate. The need for the surgery is ultimately based on your mouth’s shape and contours. But as long as you do not have too many other compromising conditions, you will likely qualify for the procedure.
When you get a dental prosthesis device, you get your life back. No longer do you have to deal with the burden of missing or damaged teeth. The question is what kind of dental appliance will best fit your improved lifestyle to give you ease with day-to-day activities. You have several options to achieve a stronger smile. Consult with your oral surgeon about the most appropriate option prior to pre-prosthetic surgery.
An incredibly popular option for replacing your missing teeth is dental implants. The reason for the popularity of these screw-like devices is that they are fixed into the mouth removing the need to remove the teeth attached to them. An oral surgeon will place the dental implant into your jawbone. New bone material will then form around it to hold it in place. Dental implants are also beneficial in that they look exactly like your natural teeth.
You have several options when it comes to dentures, including complete and partial dentures. Although dentures are not permanent, they have been a popular option for smile restoration for generations. Modern dentures are designed with comfort in mind, but make sure that you are maintaining them by keeping them clean with special materials. Dentures may be further stabilized using dental implants. If you already have or require a denture, talk to your oral surgeon about whether dental implants can be utilized to make your denture much more stable.
If your tooth is damaged, you can receive a dental crown. The damage may come in the form of being cracked, chipped, or worn down. Crowns are great long-term solutions that are made of metal or porcelain. Your general dentist will fill any cavities that are present in the damaged tooth. Then, they will trim the tooth during pre-prosthetic surgery to prepare it for the crown. A temporary one will be placed until the permanent one is made.
With a dental bridge, you patch up the space where one or more teeth are missing. You are bridging that gap, so implies the name of the prosthesis device. A bridge is often made of ceramic and looks like your natural teeth. Bridges can span a gap between two natural teeth, but also may be connected between two or more dental implants.
When you lose multiple teeth and do not do anything about it, you risk a multitude of teeth, gum, and bone problems. This includes bone resorption, also known as bone loss. Bone resorption is a natural process of the body breaking down and reabsorbing bone tissue. Depending on the amount of bone resorption you have will determine if the bone needs to be restored or reconstructed as a part of your pre-prosthetic surgery. In today’s dentistry, your oral surgeon will take 3-dimensional images, or a cone beam CT scan, in order to adequately explain your mouth’s condition, but also to help plan your surgery for optimal results.
A Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon can perform a wide range of procedures to prepare you for your chosen dental prosthesis device. Typically, these procedures are performed while you are under sedation. Your oral surgeon will be timely and efficient during the surgical intervention. Their goal is to provide you with a comfortable environment as they restore your oral function, facial form, and aesthetics. When you visit an oral surgeon, you may undergo pre-prosthetic surgery procedures. Some of the more common pre-prosthetic surgery procedures are listed below.
An alveoloplasty can be performed at the same time as your tooth extraction or after some initial healing has occurred. This procedure reshapes your jawbone to facilitate healing and improve the fit and form of your dental prosthesis. It is completed on the part of the jawbone called the alveolus, which houses the teeth. Once your jawbone is smooth, your mouth will be better prepared for a replacement tooth.
A frenulum is the attachment of the muscles surrounding your mouth, to the bone itself. These frenulums can be too prominent or attach too closely to the teeth. Sometimes called a frenuloplasty, a frenectomy is a surgical procedure to move, reduce or re-shape that muscle attachment. These are often performed on children and young adults, often as a part of orthodontic treatment, or simply to improve feeding in the case of infants. That said, frenectomies can be necessary for adults. This pre-prosthetic surgery can help the fit and form of your dental prosthesis.
The rounded bony protrusion behind your upper jaw’s last molar is known as the tuberosity. An enlarged tuberosity is not necessarily a problem for those who have all of their teeth. However, for those who are missing teeth, an enlarged tuberosity could hang beyond your upper jaw. When you undergo a tuberosity reduction, an oral surgeon is making this protrusion less prominent to correct the way the teeth and jaws come together.
Ridge augmentation is used to maintain bone and soft tissue volume, or to help replace it if already lost. An oral surgeon can accomplish a ridge augmentation pre-prosthetic surgery by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket or outside of the tooth socket, directly onto the outer portion of the bone.
Recovery times from pre-prosthetic surgery vary between patients. The reason for this is that every surgical plan and procedure is different, depending on your mouth’s unique situation. Ridge augmentation, in itself, could take anywhere from six to nine months for a full recovery. Regardless, your oral surgeon will know when you are ready to receive your dental prosthesis device. Note, too, that in order to ensure the most successful healing period possible, refrain from smoking. It is recommended that you even stop in the weeks prior to surgery because it could interfere with your recovery.
Dr. Alford is a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. He can perform your pre-prosthetic surgery at either the Lake Travis Oral Surgery and Bastrop Oral Surgery locations He completed his residency in 2009, and during this time discovered his special interest in the placement of dental implants. With several years of experience under his belt, you are in good hands with Dr. Alford during any oral surgery procedure. So, why let your tooth loss go unchecked? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you right here in the Heart of Texas.