What You Need to Know Before Getting Dentures
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Does the word dentures make you think of unnatural teeth slipping out of someone's mouth? There have been several advances in dentistry and today's dentures are well-fitting, easy to wear, and natural-looking.
Dentures are artificial teeth and gums used to replace lost teeth. They can be used to replace one tooth, a few teeth, or a complete arch of teeth. No matter which kind of denture you get, they will be custom fitted to your mouth and esthetically matched to your existing smile.
Dentures are recommended under two main circumstances: periodontal disease or large dental cavities. In periodontal disease, the bone loss in the jaw is so extensive that teeth are very loose and cannot be saved. With dental cavities, the teeth are decayed so much that a filling cannot repair them and they must be extracted. Dentures are often the most affordable option for replacing missing teeth. Dentures have many benefits such as improving the appearance of your smile, improving speech, and rebuilding the bite (occlusion). They can also help to maintain the structural integrity of your remaining teeth and face.
Here's what you need to know about dentures.
1. There are several different kinds of dentures.
Your dentist may recommend a specific type of denture based on your needs and desires. There are a few different kinds available; these include partial dentures, full dentures, immediate dentures, and implant-supported dentures. Partial dentures are used when there are still some healthy teeth. These dentures clip around the healthy teeth and are removable for cleaning. Full (or complete) dentures are used to replace all your natural teeth. These artificial teeth are attached to a place that sits on the gums. The plates can be made from either metal or acrylic and are matched to the colour of the gums. Immediate dentures are placed right after the teeth are extracted. These are used during the healing process and typically require several adjustments as the mouth heals. Lastly, there are implant-supported dentures. The implants are placed into the jaw bone and the denture is secured on top via abutments. Implant-supported dentures do not rely on adhesives or creams for security. When compared to traditional dentures, they feel more comfortable and secure in the patient's mouth and are better for eating.
2. Dentures need to be replaced.
Dentures can be made from several materials. The most common materials are acrylic resin, porcelain, and metal. All of these are weaker than natural teeth and wear down over time. Dentures can easily chip or crack if they are dropped. Most dentists recommend replacing your dentures every 5 to 10 years. So while the initial cost of dentures is more affordable when compared to dental implants or bridges, they can incur costs over time due to repairs and/or replacement.
3. It takes time to get used to wearing dentures.
It's tough to replicate the look and function of natural teeth with dentures. Dentists report the gold standard for replacing natural teeth is dental implants. However, that does not mean it's not possible to continue enjoying your life with dentures. It just takes some time. As you continue to wear the dentures, your mouth will learn to compensate and hold the dentures in place via suction and the muscles of your cheeks, tongue, and lips. If you're experiencing speech difficulties with the dentures, try practicing challenging words until your mouth gets used to the feeling of wearing dentures.
4. You still need to see the dentist.
Yes, even those who are missing all their teeth need to see the dentist regularly. Oral health is more than teeth, it also includes healthy gums and adequate bone levels in the jaw. At your dental visits, the dentist will examine the denture for wear and tear, tartare buildup, and fit. The longer teeth are missing, the more bone resorption which changes the hard and soft tissue, leading to fit issues. The dentist will also monitor your gums to ensure there are no sore spots and perform an oral cancer screening.
5. Do not try to repair the dentures at home.
Dentists go through years of specialized training to learn how to build, adjust, and repair dentures. Attempting to DIY a denture repair can create more damage. For example, bending the clasps and metal attachments can weaken the material and cause it to break. If a tooth chips or falls out of the denture, do not attempt to repair it with super glue (it releases formaldehyde as a by-product and is not safe for internal use). The best course of action is to see your dentist or prosthodontist as they can often repair the denture in the chair.
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