As we age, so do our teeth. The natural process of aging and deterioration often compels the need to extract one or more teeth, which may lead patients to consider dentures. Creating a natural and healthy smile, dentures offer a safe alternative to preserve the ability to speak clearly, chew foods naturally, increase self esteem and decrease social anxiety.
There are many types of dentures, including complete and partial sets. Partial dentures are preferred when only a few teeth are missing and a smaller solution can achieve the desired results. Complete dentures are preferable when few teeth remain. The most effective solution for complete dentures involves removal of remaining teeth to create a full replacement set.
A complete denture set begins with a denture specialist creating a mold of the patient’s gums that is then sent to a specialized dental lab where a customized set of dentures is manufactured specifically for the patient. In the interim, patients are fitted with temporary dentures designed to last until the permanent dentures are delivered from the laboratory.
Additionally, over dentures are an excellent option when the patient’s remaining teeth (including the tissue and gums) are strong. The remaining teeth are resculpted and covered with caps to prevent future decay and the over dentures are placed “over” the remaining teeth. This process ensures the jawbone and gums do not recede further, which means the dentures do not need to be relined as frequently. Over dentures also involve less occlusion (bite) issues than do complete dentures.
After dentures are placed most patients experience a natural period of discomfort as the gums and tissue become accustomed to having constant contact with relining material. We suggest patients wear their dentures continually for the first few days in order to reduce expected swelling. Swelling usually subsides in two or three days, although the unnatural feeling of looseness and awkwardness will continue as patients adjust to new teeth.
There are many ways to accelerate the adjustment process, such as reading aloud to overcome speech impediments and eating soft food for a short time. Overall, lower dentures generally take longer to become accustomed to than do than upper dentures. The jawbone may take a few months to permanently heal and adjust to dentures, but when the process is complete a dentist removes the dentures and creates a soft cushion between them and the gum tissue to serve as a permanent lining.
Dentures have the potential to last a long time, depending on care and the amount of jaw recession that naturally occurs. Dentures should be cleaned daily with specially-made denture toothpaste. Once the natural swelling has subsided, we advise to leave one or both dentures out at night to allow the gums to breathe. To avoid warping, dentures should be placed in water when out of the mouth.
Inevitably, over time denture lining of may break down under the pressure of usual wear and tear. Natural bone or tissue shrinkage, worn down teeth and denture breakage will all cause eventual loosening of the dentures, requiring an updated set to be manufactured.