A denture is a removable prosthetic device designed to replace missing teeth. There are different types of denture that can replace some or all of a person’s teeth.
These are split into partial and complete dentures. As the name suggests, partial dentures replace one or more teeth on one arch of the mouth. Removable partial dentures can be taken out when required, while fixed partial dentures are sealed in place to adjacent teeth, similarly to a bridge.
Complete dentures replace more extensive tooth loss. When there are no teeth remaining in an arch of the mouth, a denture can restore appearance and function without having to undergo more invasive treatments, such as implants.
Dentures are made from safe and resilient materials, and they’ll last between five and ten years on average. Replacement dentures are rarely required as a result of poor performance; it’s usually because gums recede over time, and so a new set of dentures that fit better are required.
Dentures are by no means a new technology; as a concept, they’ve stood the test of time. But material and manufacturing innovations have improved fit, durability, and comfort – and designers are still working to make improvements.
Although they are often seen as the preserve of the elderly population, dentures are worn by people of all ages. They are convenient, easy to fit, and can restore function and appearance after tooth loss.
Why Might I Need Dentures?
Dentures are a treatment for tooth loss, so if you have lost one or more of your teeth, and you would like a prosthetic that can be easily fitted and removed on a daily basis, dentures are a good choice.
Your dentist will discuss your options at a regular or emergency appointment. A partial denture is usually offered as an alternative to a bridge or limited implant. A complete denture may be offered in anticipation of tooth removal, or after teeth have been lost.
Note that dentures are not the only treatment for tooth loss, and your dentist will take time to run through all the alternatives. Don’t feel pressured into the first option you discuss.
How Are Dentures Fitted?
Fitting dentures will take several appointments. If you have teeth that need to be removed before you begin the process of fitting dentures, this will be done in a separate appointment.
The first step is to take a mould of your teeth. After performing a thorough check of your mouth – as well as any X-rays that might be required – your dentist will apply a special putty directly to your gums, which is then dried, removed, and sent to the lab. This is done to ensure that your new dentures are a perfect fit for your mouth.
If you’re having partial dentures, your dentist will use the moulding putty not only to capture the current shape of your gums, but the teeth around the area where the denture will be fitted. This will guarantee that your new dentures will not cause irritation or damage from friction with healthy teeth.
Your dentist may fit a temporary denture while your custom prosthetics are being made. This will likely be the case if you have one or both arches without teeth entirely, but if you are waiting for a partial denture, you may decide to skip a temporary fitting.
At your next appointment, your dentist will fit the dentures. They will confirm that the dentures fit your gums correctly, and there are no initial pressure points that may cause discomfort down the line. You will then be shown how to adhere and place your dentures, so that you’re able to do it for yourself when you get home.
If you notice any problems at this stage, report them to your dentist immediately. Sometimes, if your dentures don’t feel right, it’s simply a case of gently maneuvering them into the right position. Dentures can take a little getting used to, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you’d like something clarified before you leave the office.
How Do I Care For My Dentures?
Dentures are pretty easy to take care of, but it’s important to give them just as much consideration as you do to natural teeth, to ensure that they last as well and as comfortably as possible.
Brush your dentures, remaining teeth, gums, and tongue with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste at least twice per day. When you remove your dentures at the end of the day, keeping them in a cleaning solution not only helps to remove any debris, but to maintain their shape and condition.
You may be required to sleep with your dentures fitted, at least initially, and your dentist will advise you whether you’ll need to do this. If so, remove them for a few minutes and use a cleaning solution (one that fizzes is best) to fully remove debris, then re-fit. To avoid breaking your dentures as a result of dropping, clean them in a sink and place them back in your mouth as soon as possible.
Alternatives To Dentures
If you have missing teeth, there are alternatives to dentures you can try. The effectiveness of each treatment will depend on the current health of remaining teeth, your gums, and whether you want a temporary or permanent prosthetic.