Full or partial tooth loss, if left untreated, doesn’t just affect a person’s self-image — it can also increase the risk of developing nutritional problems and other systemic health disorders. Fortunately, there’s a reliable and time-tested method for treating this condition: full or partial dentures.
Dentures are just one option for replacing missing teeth; some of the others include fixed bridgework and dental implants. Each method has its particular pluses and minuses, which should be carefully considered. There are also several varieties of dentures available to address specific issues, from partial dentures to implant-supported over dentures. During a consultation, we can explain the available options and help determine which is best in your individual situation.
- Immediate Dentures: These are usually a temporary means of helping you transition to successful denture wearing. Because of the muscular readjustment required, as well as the natural shrinkage of gums, the dentures which are placed immediately after tooth extraction won’t fit as well as permanent dentures made when the healing is complete. They do, however, provide you with new teeth right away, and give you time to adjust.
- Conventional Full Dentures: After a period of time, we can fabricate permanent dentures that conform to your mouth with near-perfect accuracy. These are carefully crafted to look as much like your own natural teeth as possible, and are able to function properly in your mouth for a long time.
- Implant-Supported Over-dentures: To increase the stability of a lower or upper denture, it’s possible for it to be securely anchored using two or more dental implants. The upper jaw requires more implants (generally three or more) than the lower jaw due to a lesser bone density. Many people find this option offers a great balance of comfort, functionality and value.
- Transitional Partial Dentures: These relatively inexpensive removable plastic dentures serve as a temporary tooth replacement and space maintainer as you wait for your mouth to heal from tooth extraction, for example. Once the healing process is complete, dental implants can be placed.
- Removable Partial Dentures (RPDs): Usually made of cast vitallium, these well-constructed, metal-based removable partial dentures are much lighter and less obtrusive than those made of plastic. They are a little more expensive than plastic dentures but will fit better. They are, however, much less expensive than implants or fixed bridgework.
During the first dental visit to evaluate the need for dentures, Dr. Vinod Chandel will examine your gums and supporting bone structure to identify the appropriate treatment plan.
In some cases, oral surgery is performed to correct bony ridges that may interfere with the stability of the denture. In other cases, the remaining teeth may need to be extracted before placement. Once Dr. Chandel has decided that dentures are right for you, he will make an impression of the gums to identify every ridge and crevice to ensure the best fit possible.
In cases where teeth need to be removed, an immediate denture is typically placed to enable proper healing of the extraction sites and serve as an esthetic replacement for natural teeth. This can be easily modified for changing ridge contours during healing until final dentures can be made. In constructing the immediate dentures, dentists will use a shade and mold chart to choose replacement teeth that will most closely match your natural teeth, minimizing any changes in appearance.
Complete dentures are made when gums are restored to a healthy condition and sufficient time has passed for healing. Complete dentures replace all teeth in the upper or lower jaws of the mouth. Gums will naturally shrink through the healing process of tooth loss, which normally takes from six to 12 months. During this period the immediate dentures may require adjustments to accommodate the changes in the gums and underlying bone structure. This could include soft and hard relining procedures.
An over-denture is a removable dental prosthesis that covers and rests on one or more remaining tooth roots. A removable partial denture is a dental prosthesis that replaces some teeth and is built around existing natural teeth. Both the over-denture and the removable partial denture may be connected to the remaining tooth roots or remaining natural teeth with anchors made of metal or plastic. These connections improve stability and the retention of both prostheses.
Complete dentures, over-dentures, and removable partial dentures should be removed at night while you sleep. This enables the gums to be bathed by saliva, which has important properties for controlling the naturally occurring flora found in the oral cavity. Saliva aids in maintaining a healthy mouth.
It is extremely important to practice healthy dental hygiene when wearing dentures. There is an increased risk of developing a more serious medical condition should oral irritation result from improper dental hygiene. These conditions include, but are not limited to, periodontal disease, leukoplakia (thickened white, potentially precancerous patches on the mucous membranes, also called smoker’s tongue) and fungal (denture stomatitis) infections.
The gums, tongue and palate should be brushed with a soft bristle brush every evening when the dentures are removed, and each day before you insert them to stimulate the gums and remove plaque accumulation. When removing dentures at night, brush them carefully to remove any loose debris and plaque then soak them in a cleansing solution. Your dentist will be able to recommend one. Some people keep theirs in an ultrasonic cleaner, but keep in mind that an ultrasonic cleaner doesn’t replace brushing. When cleaning your dentures, place a towel beneath them or clean them over a sink filled with water to avoid breakage.
You should see your dentist 24 hours after delivery of your new dentures. It is not unusual to experience some initial discomfort. Minor adjustments can increase comfort and eliminate problems before they become more serious. Initially, a new denture may feel unusual in the mouth. The cheeks, lips, and tongue are very sensitive areas that require time to adjust. It is not uncommon to bite one’s cheek or tongue while acclimating to the new restoration. However, persistent soreness or irritation should be reported to your dentist.
In addition to adjusting to the feel of new dentures, it will also take some practice learning to chew with them. Begin by slowly chewing on very small pieces of soft food, using both sides of the mouth simultaneously. As your comfort and confidence increase you can progress to larger pieces of soft food and then proceed to harder foods.
Speaking may also require practice. It may be difficult to pronounce certain words. Usually, this problem is overcome within two weeks. New denture wearers can adjust more quickly to their new prosthesis by practicing reading aloud.
With a well fitting denture and practice, adhesives may not be necessary. Wearers should expect the lower denture to fit somewhat loosely. They may need to learn how to use the muscles of the cheeks and tongue to keep it in place. Although this might sound bothersome, with practice, it becomes second nature.
If your dentures fit poorly, cause persistent mouth irritation, chip, crack, or break, it is important to see your dentist. Although most gum remodeling occurs within the first year, changes in gums and bone continue throughout one’s lifetime. Over time this may result in ill fitting or loose dentures and may compromise facial appearance.
In addition, movement of the dentures on the gums may cause significant irritation. For this reason, it is recommended that complete dentures be remade or at least relined every five to seven years.