When an individual is missing teeth, three options are available: dental implants, dentures and bridges.
Dental implants replace what has been lost. An implant is a permanent replacement consisting of a titanium post that is placed into the bone to act as an artificial root. It supports replacement teeth and individual crowns, bridge or dentures.
Implant therapy is a two-stage process. The first stage is surgical, during which a titanium post is placed into the bone. After a healing period of several months during which bone bonds with the implant, the second stage begins. In this stage, the replacement crown(s), bridge or denture is designed, fabricated and attached to the implant, which now acts as an anchor to keep everything in place.
Dentures, partial or complete, are removable prostheses (appliances) supported by the surrounding hard and soft tissues in the mouth.
A partial denture (also referred to as a partial) is made when an individual is missing some, but not all, of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Designed to be custom fit to your mouth, a partial is made of acrylic and metal, with clasps that fit around the remaining teeth to help keep it in place.
A complete denture is made when an individual is missing all of the teeth in the upper and/or lower jaw. Like a partial denture, a complete denture is designed to be custom fit to the tissue it will rest on. However, a complete denture is made entirely of acrylic. Because there are no teeth to help hold the denture in place, it must rely primarily on the surrounding soft tissue for support and retention.