What is a denture?
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available - complete and partial dentures:
- A 'complete' or 'full' denture is one which replaces all the natural teeth in either the upper or lower jaws. It may be fastened to your jaws with mini implants.
- A 'partial' denture fills in the spaces left by lost or missing teeth. It may be fastened to your natural teeth with metal clasps or 'precision attachments'.
Dentures are either made of acryl (plastic) or metal.
Why should I wear dentures?
Full dentures, to replace all your own teeth, fit snugly over your gums. They will help you to eat comfortably and speak clearly, and will improve your confidence.
Complete dentures can be either "conventional" or "immediate." Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about 8 to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.
Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.
A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them.
How Are Dentures Made?
The denture development process takes about two to four weeks and several appointments.
Once your dentist or prosthodontist (a dentist who specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth) determines what type of appliance is best for you, the general steps are to:
- Make a series of impressions of your jaw and take measurements of how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.
- Create models, wax forms, and/or plastic patterns in the exact shape and position of the denture to be made. You will "try in" this model several times and the denture will be assessed for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast.
- Cast a final denture
- Adjustments will be made as necessary
Usually dentures can be fitted straight after your teeth have been removed. These are called 'immediate dentures'. You will need to visit the dentist beforehand for them to take measurements and impressions of your mouth.
With immediate dentures you don't have to be without teeth while your gums are healing. However, bone and gums can shrink over time, especially during the first six months after your teeth have been taken out. If your gums shrink, your immediate dentures may need relining, adjusting or even replacing.
What Do New Dentures Feel Like?
New dentures may feel a little odd or loose for a few weeks until the muscles of your cheek and tounge learn to keep them in place and you get comfortable inserting and removing them. Also, it is not unusual for minor irritation or soreness to occur and for saliva flow to increase when you first start wearing dentures, but these problems will diminish as your mouth adjusts to the new denture.
Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the denture from moving. As you become more used to your denture, add other foods until you return to your normal healthy diet.
Pronouncing certain words may require practice by saying the difficult words out loud. With practice and with time you will become accustomed to speaking properly with your denture.
If you find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile, reposition the denture by gently biting down and swallowing.
Will dentures make me look different?
Replacing lost or missing teeth is very good for your health and appearance. A complete or full denture replaces your natural teeth and gives support to your cheeks and lips. Without this support, sagging facial muscles can make a person look older and they will find it harder to eat and speak properly.Dentures can be made to closely match your natural teeth so that your appearance hardly changes. Modern dentures may even improve the look of your smile and help fill out the appearance of your face.
Must I do anything special to care for my mouth?
Even with full dentures, you still need to take good care of your mouth. Every morning and evening, brush your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth with a soft-bristled brush. This removes plaque and helps the circulation in your mouth. If you wear partial dentures, it is even more important that you brush your teeth thoroughly every day. This will help stop tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to you losing more of your teeth. Your dentist may refer you to the hygienist to have your remaining natural teeth cleaned regularly.
My upper denture fits fine, so why am I having problems with my lower plate?
The upper denture usually has much more suction to hold it in place. The gum support in the lower jaw is much less and the lower denture may feel more wobbly as it has to be balanced between your cheeks and your tongue.
After a while you will learn the shape of your new denture and how to keep in place even when you open your mouth wide.
Sometimes the anatomical situation, caused by bone resorption makes difficult the wearing of a mobile lower denture. In these cases Mini Dental Implants would be the best choice to fix your lower plate. For more information, please ask the implantologist in our surgery.
Are There Alternatives to Dentures?
Yes, dental implants can be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative to dentures but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Consult your dentist for advice.