Losing your teeth is a common problem. This may happen because of various reasons, including but not limited to damage, decay and injury. A common and practical solution to this problem is dentures.
Dentures can not only help you with the oral health aspect of your teeth but also help keep your smile and the shape of your face intact. If you don’t have all your teeth, it can often give you a false ageing look because of the way the facial muscles adapt around the area of the missing teeth. Dentures help you avoid this as well as carry out other daily functions like chewing and smiling normally.
Types of Dentures
A denture is a set of artificial teeth if you have a dead tooth or have your tooth extracted. You can get dentures for all of your teeth (called complete dentures) or for some of your teeth when you haven’t lost all the natural ones (called partial dentures).
Complete dentures can further be classified into two categories – conventional and immediate. A complete conventional denture is set inside the mouth after the natural teeth have been removed and the gums have begun to heal, which usually happens in a period of twelve weeks. A complete immediate denture, however, can be placed as soon as the teeth are removed.
In a comparison between the two, immediate dentures do have the advantage of immediacy but tend to compromise on custom fit, especially as gums tend to shrink over time. Therefore only conventional dentures should be seen as a permanent solution.
On the other hand, partial dentures are made by bringing together a base, which is generally the colour of the gums, and a framework (often metal) to hold the denture in place in the mouth. If you have real teeth still remaining, upper or lower, partial dentures are often prescribed.
There are two major benefits of this kind of denture – one, obviously, is that it fills up the empty space between teeth; and two, it makes sure that other teeth stay in their place too. There is a version of partial dentures, called precision partial dentures, that looks much more real and can be removed and inserted at will.
Of course, dentures are not the only option in case you don’t have your natural teeth anymore. Dental Implants – put in by permanently cemented bridges – are increasingly becoming a well-known alternative. The biggest advantage of dental implants is that they feel much closer to your real teeth. However, they have two disadvantages – they aren’t really suitable for every situation, and they can often be expensive.
There are many reasons why dentures are preferred:
Aesthetics: Dentures greatly enhance your appearance and your smile by filling in the space of your original teeth. They also stop your face shape from drooping and inspire greater self-confidence in the person.
Functionality: Dentures help you carry out everyday functions normally – whether it is chewing, smiling or speaking. Dentures are also a long-term solution, lasting anywhere between half a decade to several decades.
Affordable: Alternatives to dentures are not only more expensive, but also need longer treatments. Of course, if expense isn’t a consideration, there are certain benefits that alternatives like dental implants offers, such as more of a natural feel and a better fit.
Disadvantages of Denture
Although dentures provide a lot of practical benefits, objectively viewed, they have some disadvantages when compared to alternatives.
Fit: Dentures don’t instantly feel natural. In fact, in the beginning, almost everyone constantly feels strange and it feels like there is something in the mouth. It is a matter of getting used to the feeling over time.
Irritation: Dentures may also cause mouth sores or irritation by something as simple as a stubborn food particle that got stuck or chewing or grinding too hard. Although often only mildly painful, these problems can be quite frustrating at times.
Sweet or sticky foods: If you have a sweet tooth, you will find that although you can eat most food with ease, sweet or sticky food still tends to cause chewing problems with dentures. This problem might apply to crunchy food items as well.
Care: Dentures need a lot of care, and a three step cleaning process regularly. Apart from this you also have to keep out a watch for any signs of a permanent stubborn stain developing so that you can get a professional cleaning done.
Speech: Getting used to speaking with dentures can take some time for most people. In the beginning it can be quite inconvenient and even produce sounds and noises like clicking or smacking. Over time the mouth adapts to the same.
Caring For Your Dentures
Follow three simple steps – brush first (this removes any food particles), then soak in an effervescent denture cleaner (this removes any stubborn stains), and then finally brush again. Don’t be too hard on the denture while cleaning and remember that if you see any persistent stain build up then don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for a professional cleaning.
Regular brushing will help you but ensure that you have a soft bristled brush instead of a hard one. This would remove any plague, which can otherwise cause infections and irritations. It’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene.
It is a bad idea to use any household product to clean your dentures; instead use a soft cloth like a cushion so that even if you drop them, you don’t end up breaking them. In the end, do not forget to pay a visit to your dentist regularly. They can spot any infection or denture cracks, which may need repairing.
If you are undergoing a new denture it is possible that the jawbone may have adjusted with age. As a result, it is required to have your denture modified. You should never attempt to modify your denture yourself as this could cause damage and you will need to have a new denture created. If you are experiencing any discomfort, let your dentist know – never try to fit in your dentures with force as that could cause permanent damage.
How Are Denture Designed
Dentures are typically made by a prosthodontics, who specializes in this field. First, a general impression and measurements of your jaw with respect to other positions in your mouth are taken. Then a model (plastic, wax etc.) exactly resembling the inside of your mouth is made. This will be tested by being placed in your mouth many times to check for convenience and comfort.
Apart from fit, colour and shape are two other parameters that are assessed at this stage. Finally a denture is cast, and final adjustments are made before it is finalised.
Common Denture Concerns
If you are looking to get a denture and are worried about whether it is the right option for you, here are some tips that can help. These address some of the major denture concerns that most people have today.
If you feel odd in the first few weeks after wearing a denture, it is completely normal. In fact you may also develop mouth sores, irritation and an increased flow of saliva in your mouth. This goes away over time.
Although you may feel conscious, dentures are made to resemble your original teeth and will not alter your appearance. In fact, if at all, they may cause an aesthetic improvement to your smile to a small degree.
Eating with dentures is a practice that one acquires with time. To make it easy, cut your food smaller and don’t chew hastily. Also, in the beginning, stick to softer foods. Very hot or hard foods, sticky foods and chewing gums are some foodstuffs you should be wary off. Also remember not to use a tooth pick.
Your speech may feel affected in the beginning, but this should go away with time. It may take a bit of practice to enunciate some words. If even after a little time you experience problems or your dentures make a clicking sound, visit your dentist. Remember that you may experience the dentures moving from their original position while you laugh, cough or smile. This is normal. Simply bite down (not too hard) and swallow. But if this problem happens very frequently, visit your dentist.
A lot of people wonder if dentures are to be worn all the time. The answer actually depends on case to case and be very sure to closely follow your dentist’s instructions. Usually you are to wear your dentures for the complete twenty-four hours, even at night, in the first few days. This might not feel very convenient to you, but helps the dentist determine the accuracy of the fit and the correctness of the adjustments. Afterwards, the general practice is to remove the dentures during bedtime.
Denture adhesive is often used by people to give themselves reassurance that dentures will stay in place the whole day. You may use adhesive but make sure you are not using adhesive as a replacement for well fitting dentures. Your dentures shouldn’t have major fitting issues. When not used excessively and used on well fitting dentures, denture adhesives cause no harm.
Do not try to make any adjustments to your dentures on your own, or get them done by anyone but a trained professional. Everything from a small chip to breaking of teeth of the denture should be handled by your dentist.
Dentures last for a long period, typically five to eight years. But the caveat for this is that you have to take care of them properly. Over years as your mouth changes shape, you will eventually have to get new dentures made for the correct fit.