Realizing that you need false teeth can be discouraging, and your mind might race through dozens of questions: How do they work? Will they be uncomfortable? Will people be able to tell them apart from my natural teeth? Luckily, dentistry has come a long way from the dentures of George Washington's day. Here's what to expect if you need teeth replacement.
Complete vs. Partial Dentures
False teeth, also known as dentures, are removable prosthetic devices that replace missing teeth. Complete dentures replace all teeth in the upper and lower jaw, and partial dentures replace a group of teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. Complete dentures adhere to the gums with the help of denture adhesive or natural suction, while partial dentures attach to the supporting natural teeth via metal clasps, explains the National Health Service (NHS).
Each denture appliance is individually crafted to match the patient's smile and bite so they look natural in the mouth. Dentures also help fix the problems missing teeth can cause, including speech difficulties, reduced chewing ability and low self-confidence.
What Are Dentures Made From?
Dentists commonly use acrylic (plastic), metal and nylon to make dentures, according to the NHS. A review in The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry states that removable partial dentures are usually made from either a metal-based framework or a polymer-based framework. Your dentist or prosthodontist can advise you on which type is best for you.
Procedure to Fit Dentures
The procedure to fit dentures sometimes requires several appointments. As the NHS explains, a dental professional will need to take measurements and an impression of your mouth to ensure the dentures are built to fit properly. If your dentist is taking the measurements, they will usually order the denture — whether complete or partial — from a dental laboratory and a dental technician will make them. Sometimes, before the permanent appliance is created, the dental professional will first have a trial denture created in case the shape, size or color needs to be fixed.
After your teeth are extracted, the healing process may cause your mouth shape to alter, and you may need to see your dentist again for a denture refitting. Patients should return for regular checkup appointments to ensure their dentures remain a good fit.
Problems With Dentures
Your dentures are designed to make eating and speaking easier, but sometimes, wearing dentures can result in oral health issues. To reduce the risk of developing any problems related to dentures, denture wearers should maintain a good oral hygiene routine, including removing the dentures at night and cleaning them daily. Here are some of the complications that can result from wearing dentures or not taking proper care of them, according to an article in The Pharmaceutical Journal:
StomatitisWhen dentures aren't kept clean, bacteria can build up in the mouth and cause red, inflamed gums, which medical professionals call stomatitis.
OdorBacteria buildup can also cause dentures to give off an unpleasant odor, particularly if the patient smokes or has dry mouth.
UlcersPatients who have new dentures or whose dentures are several years old may develop ulcers if the shape of their mouth changes or if the dentures become ill-fitting. If your dentures are causing ulcers, talk to your dentist. They may recommend getting new dentures or prescribe mouth ulcer medication.
Loose FitIf dentures become loose or if their fit changes, it can be uncomfortable. The Pharmaceutical Journal article notes that after several years of wear, patients may need their dentures relined or replaced.
Angular CheilitisAnother condition caused by ill-fitting dentures is angular cheilitis, a medical term for sore patches on the skin at the corners of the mouth. This occurs when saliva seeps from the corners of the mouth, which encourages bacteria buildup and the development of sores.
Regular visits to your dentist in combination with good oral care can prevent problems with dentures. If you have missing teeth, don't put off speaking to a dental professional to discuss your needs and expectations and identify the best solution for you. When fit properly, a set of false teeth can restore your confidence, as well as your smile.