Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clasping onto teeth or dental implants.
Types of dentures
Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position.
A person who needs complete dentures have lost most or all of their teeth. A partial denture is suitable for those who have some natural teeth remaining. A denture improves chewing ability, speech, and provides support for facial muscles. In addition, dentures greatly enhance the facial structure and smile of the individual.
Complete or full dentures are constructed when all of a patients natural teeth are missing. You can have a full denture on both your upper or lower jaw.
Complete dentures are called "conventional" or "immediate" according to when they are made and when they are inserted into the mouth. Immediate dentures are inserted immediately after the removal of the remaining teeth. To make this possible, the dentist takes measurements and makes the models of the patients jaws during a preliminary visit.
An advantage of immediate dentures is that the patient does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums can shrink over time, especially during the period of healing in the first six months after the removal of teeth. When gums shrink, immediate dentures may require rebasing or relining to fit properly. A conventional denture can then be made once the tissues have healed. Healing may up to 6-8 weeks.
An overdenture is a complete or partial removable denture supported by retained roots or teeth to provide improved support, stability, and tactile and proprioceptive sensation and to reduce bone resorption. The natural teeth must be prepared to provide stability and support for the denture.
Partial dentures serve as a solution when several teeth are missing.
Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. Removable partial dentures attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments. Precision attachments are generally more aesthetic than metal clasps and are nearly invisible. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments. Dentures with precision attachments generally cost more than those with metal clasps.
How are dentures constructed?
The denture process takes about one month and five appointments: the initial diagnosis is made; an impression is taken and a wax bite are made to determine vertical dimensions and proper jaw position; a "try-in" is placed to assure proper color, shape and fit; measurements are made to show how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them (bite relationship). The color or shade of your natural teeth will also be determined. The impression, bite and shade are given to the dental laboratory so a denture can be custom-made for your mouth. The patients final denture is placed, following any minor adjustments.
The dental laboratory makes a mold or model of your jaw, places the teeth in a wax base, and carves the wax to the exact form wanted in the finished denture. Usually a "wax try-in" of the denture will be done at the dentists office so any adjustments can be done before the denture is completed.
A mold of the wax-up denture is made, the wax is removed and the remaining space is filled with pink plastic in dough form. The mold is then heated to harden the plastic. The denture is then polished and ready for wear.
Getting used to your dentures
For the initial weeks, a new denture may feel awkward or bulky. However, your mouth will eventually become accustomed to wearing it. Inserting and removing the denture will require some practice. Your denture should easily fit into place. Never force the partial denture into position by biting down. This could bend or break the clasps.
At first, you may be asked to wear your denture all the time. Although this may be temporarily uncomfortable, it is the quickest way to identify those denture parts that may need adjustment. If the denture puts too much pressure on a particular area, that spot will become sore. Your denture can be adjusted to fit more comfortably. Often they will rub the gums a bit at first, meaning that they need to be adjusted by the dentist - so if you get an ulcer, this does not mean that you cannot or will not be able to wear them - just call the dentist! After making adjustments, you may need to take the denture out of your mouth before going to bed and replace it in the morning. You should usually take them out at night- but keep them in for the first 1 or 2, as this will let your mouth get used to them being there. Keeping them in for the first 24 hours also helps if you have had teeth taken out as it ensures that the gums heal in the best way.
When eating, start out with soft foods that are cut into smaller sizes. Remember to chew on both sides of the mouth to keep even pressure on the denture. Make sure you avoid sticky or hard foods, including gum. You may want to avoid chewing gum while you adjust to the denture altogether. It can take about one week for every decade old you are to get used to new dentures. It is important not to panic if they feel loose when you first get them- they should tighten up when they settle. Also your mouth learns to control them but this takes time.
Care of your denture
It's best to stand over a folded towel or a sink of water when handling your denture, just in case you accidentally drop it. Brush the denture (preferably with a denture brush) daily to remove food deposits and plaque, and keep it from becoming permanently stained. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay. Avoid using a brush with hard bristles, which can damage the denture. Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. Be careful and pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the dentures metal clasps.
Using hand soap or a mild dish washing liquid to clean dentures is also acceptable. Certain types of household cleaning products and most toothpastes are too abrasive and should not be used for cleaning dentures. A denture could lose its proper shape if it is not kept moist. At night, the denture should be placed in soaking solution or water. Be sure to remember if the appliance has metal attachments, they could be tarnished if placed in soaking solution.
Even with full dentures, you still need to take good care of your mouth. Every morning, brush your gums, tongue and palate with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Selecting a balanced diet for proper nutrition is also important for maintaining a healthy mouth.
It may be necessary to adjust the denture over time. With age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can shrink or recede, resulting in a loose-fitting denture. Loose dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. Dentures that do not fit properly can be adjusted. Avoid using a do-it-yourself kit to adjust your dentures, as this can damage the appliance beyond repair. Be sure to use Today's Dentistry for any adjustments and refitting.
If your denture no longer fits properly, if it breaks, cracks or chips, or if one of the teeth becomes loose, come see us immediately. Today's Dentistry can make necessary adjustments or repairs, often on the same day. Complicated repairs may require that the denture be sent to a special dental laboratory.
Over time, dentures will need to be relined, re-based, or re-made due to normal wear. To reline or re-base a denture, the dentist uses the existing denture teeth and refits the denture base or makes a new denture base. Dentures may need to be replaced if they become loose and the teeth show signs of significant wear.
Some people worry about how dentures will affect their speech. Think how your speech is affected when you have a number of your natural teeth missing, let alone a procedure such as this. Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating troublesome words will help. If your dentures "click" while you`re talking, speak more slowly. You may find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile. Reposition the dentures by gently biting down and swallowing. If a speaking problem persists, call us during our normal business hours.