Removable prosthodontics is concerned with replacing the teeth and soft tissues with a non-permanent prosthesis that can be removed. These are often known as dentures, and can replace a full arch of teeth (complete dentures), or a number of individual or grouped tooth spaces (partial dentures).
The dentures are held in place using a number of elements – complete dentures are held in place by forming a seal against the palate, and saliva (spit) can help significantly with this
process. Partial dentures can be held in place by design (i.e. they are made to sit into areas which prevent it from falling out), or they can have a metal base, with little clasps which sit against the teeth and prevent dislodging.
Sometimes the remaining parts of teeth can be used to help retain the denture, such as little magnets placed into the root surfaces of worn teeth. In all cases, the experience of the patient plays a big part in how the teeth are managed.
Many people think that constructing dentures is a quick and easy process, whereas it is often the opposite. It requires experience and skill, both on the part of the dentist and the technician. Complete dentures can often require up to six visits by the patient, and a similar number of laboratory stages. Some laboratory stages can be carried out at the chair side, making the process quicker (such as the setting up of teeth into wax). However, the process can also take longer if certain stages need to be re-recorded or repeated.
Dentures can be designed to replace more than just the teeth and gums. They are often used to plug large defects that have been created during surgery, or after trauma.
As well as dentures, removable prosthodontics also covers the production of gingival veneers. These are thin prostheses that click over the necks of the teeth to hide recession of the gums.
This is often a satisfactory alternative to surgery.