A facebow is a special instrument used by dentists when fitting a patient for dental prosthodontics. The facebow lines up with the patient exactly and allows the dentist or periodontist to accurately measure important parts of the patient’s facial structure, like the maxillary arch and its relationship to the temporomandibular joint, and transfer that data to where it can be used to create dental prosthetics. With the rise of computer-generated dental prosthetics, the facebow has been phased out by many dentists and periodontists and is no longer used to take important measurements. However, the facebow still plays an important role in transferring functional and aesthetic components from the mouth of the patient to the dental articulator. Without a facebow, the measurements taken by a dentist or periodontist may not be as accurate as they assume. This results in having to make multiple adjustments for the esthetics and occlusions later.
A facial prosthesis is a maxillofacial or craniofacial artificial replacement for a part of the face that is missing due to:
- Traumatic injury
- Surgical intervention for carcinoma-related lesions
- Congenital defects
Facial prostheses may include the use of a prosthetic mask. They can require prosthetic nose surgery to replace the affected facial features. A prosthetic facial mask can be used to replace more than one feature as well as larger portions of missing or damaged tissue on various parts of the face. A nose prosthesis has a more limited function as it only replaces the lost or damaged nose and surrounding tissue. Such prostheses can provide confidence for those who have been affected. Prosthesis training is required for those in the medical and dental professions to ensure patients are properly fitted. Prostheses can be attached to the affected areas in a variety of ways, with some requiring stabilizing or fixing with the support of specially-designed dental implants.
A facing is more commonly known in cosmetic dentistry as a veneer. They are most commonly used to achieve a perfectly straight, white smile and can restore the look of chipped, broken, cracked, stained, and gapped teeth. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are used to recreate the surface of the teeth, or the “face.” Porcelain is preferable to other materials because it has a similar density and durability as natural tooth enamel, however, some veneers are crafted from resin. Resin is a similar material to composite, or “white” fillings. Each veneer is custom made to the shape of the tooth it will be placed on and is permanently bonded to the tooth with a special procedure. Veneers are not removable and require the surface of the natural tooth to be altered to place the veneer. Patients interested in veneers should discuss the benefits and risks of permanent tooth alteration.