Dentures are custom-made removable appliances made of plastic (acrylic resin), sometimes in combination with stainless steel (or other metals). They are designed to look like your natural teeth and fit tightly over the gums to serve as an artificial replacement for your missing natural teeth, helping to restore the function of your mouth (speech and eating), improve the appearance of your smile, and prevent potential problems caused by gaps.
Types of dentures
There are various types of dentures, and each is fitted differently depending on the problem it is addressing.
1. Complete dentures
Refers to a full set of artificial teeth designed to replace either the entire upper or lower jaw, or both. Any remaining natural teeth have to be removed and the tissue allowed to heal before complete dentures can be placed. However, immediate dentures are placed the same day the remaining natural teeth are removed so you don’t have to stay without teeth during the healing period. Usually, your denture has to be remade or relined after the healing is complete since the shape of your gums may have changed.
2. Partial dentures
These artificial teeth are designed to replace one or several missing teeth. They are fitted to prevent the remaining natural teeth from shifting. A partial denture comprises a replacement tooth attached to a gum-colored plastic base that is held in place by a metal framework and clasps, or natural-looking connectors known as precision attachments.
These dentures are specially prepared and fitted over a small number of remaining teeth or implants to help preserve the remaining natural teeth. Saving strong, natural teeth can help to preserve your jawbone and provide support for the denture.
How dentures are placed
The process of getting dentures involves multiple appointments within three to six weeks or more depending on how fast your gums heal.
Step 1: Tooth extraction and healing
During the initial consultation, your dentist will assess your current dental condition to determine the best course of action. If you require a full denture and still have a few natural teeth remaining, they will be extracted. Depending on the number of teeth removed, their location, and your health, your dentist will determine how long it will take your gums to heal.
Step 2: Same-day dentures
After tooth extraction, your gums will be sensitive as they heal. But you don’t have to remain toothless. So, your dentist may recommend that you wear same-day or immediate dentures that won’t cause any discomfort as you heal.
Step 3: An impression of your mouth
After the initial consultation and diagnosis, the dentist will take measurements and impressions of your jaw and create models to determine the shape and position of your denture appliance. Your dentures’ size, shape, color, and fit will be assessed during subsequent appointments before the final appliance is cast.
Step 4: Customize your teeth replacements
When your gums have fully healed, your will receive the final dentures, and your prosthodontist or dentist will make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the shapes, size, and colors of your new teeth are right for you. At the same time, you can ask your dentist to change some aspects that you did not like about your natural teeth, so you can improve your smile and boost your confidence.
Step 5: Fitting
When your gums have healed fully and your dentures are ready, they will be fitted in your mouth and the necessary adjustments made to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.
What to expect from your new dentures
First time denture wearers need some time to get accustomed to their teeth replacements. Your dentures may feel awkward at first as your tongue and cheek muscles learn to keep them in place, which may affect your speech. There may also be some soreness and irritation, but these problems should subside as your mouth becomes accustomed to your new dentures.
Dentures should last several years with proper care and good oral hygiene. Your dentist will instruct you on how long to wear your dentures, how to clean them, and how to maintain oral hygiene with dentures. You should also continue to visit your dentist for follow-up appointments and checkups.
Who is the right candidate for dentures?
Dentures are not just for senior patients. People of any age may lose some of their natural teeth requiring a partial denture, or all of their teeth requiring a full denture. Since teeth are a permanent part of your body, losing them can have a physical and emotional effect on some people. So, it is important that you talk to your dentist or denturist about any anxiety, fears, or other emotions you may be feeling about tooth loss, as well as the best tooth replacement option for your case.