Dentures are durable, artificial replacements for missing teeth. They improve speaking and eating, help support facial muscles, and prevent remaining teeth from shifting by filling empty gaps. Today’s dentures closely mimic the look and feel natural teeth thanks to recent strides in modern dentistry, resulting in a healthier, more functional smile.
Types of Dentures
Candidates for dentures fall into one of two categories: full or partial. Full dentures restore the entire upper and lower jaw, while partials are used when only one or a few teeth are lost. Of those two groupings, there are three types of dentures available:
- Conventional full dentures are fabricated and installed after the remaining teeth are moved and tissues have healed, a process that can take several weeks.
- Immediate full dentures are created in advance and are ideal for patients who require dentures the same day that their natural teeth are extracted.
- Partial dentures are removable alternatives to dental bridges. They are attached to a metal frame, which connects to remaining teeth to fill the space where natural teeth have been extracted.
Candidates for Dentures
Most individuals who have lost a few or all of their natural teeth can benefit from dentures. Suitable candidates must have good general health, healthy gums, adequate jawbone to support the dentures, and a strong commitment to taking proper care of their dentures. Dentures are not for everyone, including smokers and individuals who have a sensitive gag reflex or dry mouth.
The process for getting dentures requires several appointments, typically over the course of several weeks. During the initial consultation, the dentist will determine if the patient is a good candidate for dentures. Prior to proceeding, teeth may need extracted, and in some cases surgery will be performed to improve the bony structure that stabilizes dentures.
After the patient’s mouth and oral tissues have healed, a series of impressions will be taken of the mouth and then custom-made in an offsite dental lab. Most modern dentures are finely crafted from tooth-colored, durable materials, such as acrylic resin and porcelain.
At the final appointment, the dentist will carefully adjust and place the completed denture, ensuring that the fit, color and shape of the appliance are precise.
Living With Dentures
In the beginning, it is normal for dentures to feel awkward or loose for new wearers. Difficulty eating and speaking, increased saliva flow and minor discomfort can also occur, as patientsgrow accustomed to the new appliance. As time passes and the mouth adapts to the dentures, these common issues will diminish.
The success of dentures depends on how well the patient cares for them.Over time, the mouth naturally changes and dentures may need to be relined or remade to ensure optimal fit and comfort. Patients can extend the longevity of their dentures by cleaning dentures daily, handling them with care, and visiting their dentist regularly to maintain the best fit and ensure optimal health of oral tissues. With proper care, dentures should last several years.