What are the different types of artificial teeth?

Partial dentures.

It is a sad reality of aging that, eventually, teeth begin to fall out or have problems that require their extraction. Even before old age begins, trauma or gum disease can cause a handful of teeth to need to be removed. When this happens, there are several different options you can choose from. Artificial teeth advanced rapidly, to the point where, in many cases, they were indistinguishable from real teeth.

An illustration of the parts of a dental implant.

The history of artificial teeth is extremely long, with humans making false replacements for missing teeth at least as far back as the 7th century BC, when the Etruscans created dentures from the teeth of dead humans and animals. This style of denture, although somewhat morbid, was actually very popular until the 19th century. Although these teeth, because they were no longer alive, quickly deteriorated, they were also easy to make and quite inexpensive, so they remained affordable even after other options became available.

Dentures are prosthetic teeth used by those who have lost their natural teeth.

Artificial teeth are important even before the entire mouth is empty of teeth, and even if there are enough teeth left to eat, simply because with large gaps the other teeth can float or fall on top of each other. For this reason, single replacement artificial teeth have become an important part of modern dentistry and it is rare to see someone with adequate dental coverage who has a large gap in their teeth. There are three main classes that artificial teeth fall into: dentures, bridges and implants. The first artificial teeth were all of the denture variety, while bridges and implants are more modern inventions.

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Dentures are usually removed at night and should be cleaned regularly.

Dentures are essentially artificial teeth that are attached to some sort of base, usually made of metal or plastic. Dentures can be temporary, partial or full. Temporary dentures are used when teeth are first removed while the jaw is still healing, as an intermediate step towards complete dentures. Partial dentures are used when some teeth are missing and are usually attached using metal hooks to the natural teeth adjacent to the opening. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth in the upper or lower line of the mouth are missing and are either attached to the roof of the mouth with saliva, in the case of upper dentures, or held in place by the muscles of the mouth and tongue in the case of lower dentures.

A dental impression is made to create dentures.

Dentures require good maintenance and many people find it difficult to adjust. As mouth muscles weaken with age, it can be difficult to keep them in place and some people rely on patches to help with this. Dentures also need to be removed at night and cleaned regularly to ensure proper oral health. They can also cause pain and strain the muscles in your mouth and tongue, making it difficult to speak until your body adjusts.

Bridges are a much less drastic type of artificial tooth that can be used when only one or two teeth are missing from the mouth. These are artificial teeth that attach directly to adjacent teeth, usually through crowns on these teeth. Bridges are usually made of metal or porcelain, and since they are cemented, they cannot be removed.

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Implants are even more permanent than bridges and in many ways are considered the ultimate in artificial teeth. A metal rod is placed in the jawbone, and this rod holds an artificial tooth directly, without the need for a denture plate or crowns. Implants can last ten to twenty years and provide a secure connection to dentures or bridges that could not otherwise be achieved. Although it is a very invasive surgical procedure, as technology advances, implants are becoming more and more popular.

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