The human body can only grow one set of teeth as an adult. If any of these teeth are missing, replacement and restorative dentistry is highly recommended. From implants to bridges, there are several options available for anyone that is missing any teeth.
Dentures are one form of replacement for absent teeth. These ‘false teeth’ come in different forms, can be removable, bonded, or implanted, and are easily maintained. They help when there is difficulty eating or speaking because of missing teeth, and will restore the appearance of the facial structure and your smile.
Signs You May Need Dentures
- Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums may be symptoms of inflammation. Inflammation can lead to gingivitis or more severe periodontal disease, which, if untreated, could lead to bone and tooth loss.
- Severe pain in your teeth may be a sign of progressed tooth decay. If caught early on, decay can be treated with a filling. However, if the decay is extensive then extractions may be necessary and will facilitate the need for partial dentures.
- Cases where teeth are loose or shifting may indicate hidden bone loss form gum disease. If any teeth have moved, changed positions, or if spaces between your teeth have increased, you will likely need extensive periodontal treatment which may lead to tooth extractions.
- After losing two or more teeth partial dentures are highly recommended. If any teeth are missing, the remaining teeth will have to work harder.
Types of Dentures
Depending on your individual needs for restorative and replacement dentistry, there are a couple options for dentures available.
- Full Denture: For instances where your entire row of teeth on the mandibular or maxillary arch (the top and bottom set of teeth), full dentures can replace the entire set. After all the teeth in the arch are removed, you can receive an immediate denture temporarily.
- Immediate dentures are made in advance and will not custom fit your mouth perfectly, but they do offer a temporary solution while conventional dentures are being made.
- Conventional dentures are what you would use on a permanent basis. They are fully fabricated and customized based on the shape of your teeth. Although they require some basic maintenance, a set of conventional dentures can last up to ten years if kept in good condition. Over a period of time they may need adjustments from your dentist as the shape of your mouth will naturally change.
- Partial Denture: In cases when a few healthy, natural teeth still remain in your jaw, partial dentures are available to fill in the gaps. Like bridges, partial dentures will help prevent your natural teeth from moving out of place, while giving you the same strength and integrity to chew and speak.
The process of creating any denture, partial or full, will take multiple appointments in the span of several weeks. This time is necessary to create the dentures and make the proper adjustments to ensure a nice and comfortable fit. The processes for creating the dentures are as follows:
- Impressions are made of your jaw and measurements of the space between the two arches of your mouth are taken in order to see how the arches sit in relation to one another.
- Wax or plastic models will be made in the exact dimensions of the dentures that will be made in order for you to try. Your dentist will be able to assess the appropriate color, shape and fit before the final dentures are made.
- While waiting for the conventional dentures to be cast, a temporary denture will be provided. Once the final dentures are made some time will be needed to get used to the new prosthesis. During this period it will also be essential to communicate with your dentist about any issues or discomforts so any necessary adjustments can be made.
As with any major dental procedure and treatment, your dentist will instruct you on maintenance and care for the dentures. An initial adjustment period is necessary to get used to the dentures. For the first few weeks it is recommended that you stick with soft foods in small portions. It may be difficult to talk at first, but speech should return to normal shortly.
What to Expect
After receiving the final dentures, during the adjustment phase, it is crucial that you communicate with you dentist any extraordinary discomfort. There will be a period where excessive salivating and gagging may occur, but this is normal. However, you should be wary if any of the following issues arise:
- A sensation of soreness may occur in the corners of your mouth – this is due to saliva that gathers in the corners of your lips if your dentures alter the way your mouth closes. Your dentist will be able to assist you in alleviating any soreness and help prevent any possible infections like cheilosis or stomatitis.
- Your gums may become irritated due to the friction of trapped food particles underneath your dentures. It is important to communicate with your dentist in any case of irritation so that they can rule out any other possible causes.
- If any slippage occurs due to issues with the suction of your dentures to your gums, a seal may weaken.
As always, there may be certain circumstances that are unique to your specific case. It is important that regular check-ups are still made to maintain the effectiveness of your dentures and level of comfort in your jaw.