When people experience tooth loss, they often turn to their periodontist or dentist for advice on the ideal way to replace missing teeth. One common way is through the use of dentures. A denture is a removable device that serves as a replacement for missing teeth and the tissues that may have been damaged due to gum disease or tooth loss. Dentures come in two forms; complete dentures and partial dentures. If you wonder whether dentures might be right for you, we have provided answers to a few of the most common questions people often ask about dentures.
What Are Complete Dentures?
There are two types of complete dentures; conventional and immediate. Conventional dentures are made after the teeth have been extracted, and the gum tissue and underlying bone have had the opportunity to heal. In most cases, conventional dentures are ready for use in the mouth within eight to twelve weeks after teeth are removed. On the other hand, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be placed as soon as the teeth are extracted. Consequently, you do not need to be without teeth while your gums and bone are healing. However, without teeth in the bone, the gums and bone will begin to shrink over time. This is especially true during the healing period immediately following extractions. Because of this, immediate dentures require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and should only be used as a temporary measure until permanent dentures can be made.
What Are Partial Dentures?
Like complete dentures, partial dentures or bridges are removable. They typically consist of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base. This is sometimes connected by a metal framework that holds the denture in your mouth by attaching to or snugly fitting against surrounding teeth. Partial dentures are used when one or more of your natural teeth remains in your upper or lower jaw. In some cases, fixed bridges are a possibility as well. In this case, the bridge, consisting of one or more artificial teeth, is cemented into place.
What Are the Alternatives to Dentures?
If you cannot or do not want to wear dentures, a bridge, or a partial plate, dental implants are a possibility. There are several types of dental implants, some of which can be used to support a bridge eliminating the need for a denture. In contrast, others function as standalone replacements for a missing tooth or teeth. While dental implants are quickly becoming an alternative to dentures, not everybody is a candidate for dental implants. Dental implants can also support dentures, offering more stability and reducing discomfort and friction caused when the denture moves during chewing or speaking. Dental implants also preserve the bone essentially eliminating the loosening of dentures due to shrinking bone and tissue.
How Are Dentures Made?
Each full or partial denture is custom made to fit the size and shape of your mouth. Due to each set’s unique nature, the development process can take several weeks and requires a series of dental appointments. Generally, the first step is to make impressions of your jaw and take measurements of your mouth to determine how your upper and lower jaw relate to each other. From these impressions, molds and other forms are made, giving you a model you can try on to see how your dentures will fit. After any necessary adjustments are complete, the final denture will be made using the sample mold.
What Will Dentures Feel Like?
Like retainers and other wearable oral appliances, dentures will feel different for each person. In most cases, they may feel strange or loose for the first few weeks until the muscles of your tongue and cheeks can keep them in place. It is also normal for minor irritation to occur when you first start wearing them, but this generally diminishes in time.
Will I Look or Speak Differently?
Due to their custom and unique design, dentures are made to fit the appearance of your natural teeth. Therefore, there should only be a minimal change in appearance. After getting new dentures, you may find that certain words are difficult to pronounce. With practice and time, you will become accustomed to speaking with dentures.
Do Dentures Make It Difficult to Eat?
In the beginning, eating with dentures may be difficult and require a little practice. Many new wearers report feeling a bit of discomfort during the first few weeks. To get used to eating with a new denture, start by cutting food into small pieces and chew slowly, using both sides of your mouth. While this may be difficult in the short term, it will not take long to get used to your new dentures and return to your usual diet. Once you are used to your dentures, you should still avoid hot, hard, sticky, or foods with sharp edges or shells. You should also avoid chewing gum and using toothpicks while wearing dentures.
Should I Use A Denture Adhesive?
Denture adhesives should only be used in certain circumstances. If your dentures are correctly formed and fitted, but you are looking to increase your bite force or their stability, an adhesive may be beneficial. If you have dry mouth conditions or are an individual who places unusual demands on your mouth, such as singing, acting, or public speaking, a dental adhesive may help. On the other hand, denture adhesive is not a solution used as a temporary or long-term fix for poorly constructed or ill-fitting dentures. If your dentures begin to feel loose, uncomfortable, or cause sores to develop on your gums, denture adhesive is not a suitable substitute for contacting your periodontist. Also, if you cannot maintain healthy oral hygiene practices, dental adhesives should not be used as they can build up on the denture.
Are Denture Adhesives Safe?
As long as they are used as directed and you do not have a known allergy to any of the ingredients in the adhesive, denture adhesive products are safe. As previously noted, if your dentures fit correctly, and the adhesive is being used to supplement for added stability, the adhesive should not have any adverse effects. If the adhesives are used to fill voids (between the gum and the appliance) caused by ill-fitting dentures, the adhesive can be harmful to the gum and jaw’s soft and hard tissues. In some cases, inflammation of these tissues can result when adhesives are misused. Failure to address the primary problem of ill-fitting dentures can result in bone loss due to ongoing movement on the soft tissues and underlying bone. If your dentures do not fit well, it is best to call your periodontist or dentist immediately.
Are Dentures Durable? How Long Do They Last?
The teeth on a denture are typically made from porcelain and resin. Traditionally, porcelain was the preferred choice, as it was stronger and more durable. In some cases, porcelain is still used as it feels similar to natural teeth. Also, the process used to harden the porcelain teeth makes them considerably harder, resulting in a more durable denture. The main disadvantage of porcelain dentures is that they are breakable if dropped, and they can wear down natural teeth if they bite against them. For these reasons, porcelain is more commonly used in full dentures as opposed to partial dentures.
Recently, acrylic resin has grown in popularity as the primary material in denture manufacturing. Acrylic adheres better to the denture base, it is easier to adjust, it weighs less, and it is significantly less expensive than porcelain. The disadvantage of teeth made from resin is that they wear faster than porcelain teeth, which causes changes in the way teeth make contact with one another. As a result, dentures made from acrylic need to be replaced every five to eight years; however, they are still much stronger than those previously made from plastics.
Do I Wear My Dentures 24-Hours A Day?
Ask your periodontist how long you should wear your dentures each day. During the first few days of wear, you may be asked to wear them all the time, even while sleeping. While this may be uncomfortable, it is the most effective way to help identify areas on the denture that require adjustment. Once any necessary changes are made, it is usually suggested that you remove your dentures before going to bed. This helps to provide time for the gum tissues to rest. It also provides time for the mouth and the denture to be cleansed appropriately.
Will Dentures Hurt My Gums or Injure the Jawbone?
Once teeth are removed, the jawbone begins to shrink and changes shape. If your dentures do not fit properly and move around when you are talking or chewing, it can cause sores to develop on your gums. If this is the case, you should contact your periodontist to have the fit of your dentures checked. When you first receive your new dentures, it is normal to experience some minor pain and irritation. This usually subsides once your mouth becomes accustomed to them. How long this takes will vary with each individual. Regular appointments with your periodontist or dentist are recommended throughout the healing process to ensure your dentures continue to fit correctly. Over time bone and tissue shrinks with removable dentures whereas dental implants help preserve the bone.
What Do Dentures Cost?
The cost of dentures varies depending on your specific situation, the “quality” of the denture, and the region where you live. Your periodontist can provide you with detailed price information that pertains to your specific needs. However, basic dentures typically range from $1000-$3000 for a full set, and premium dentures can cost as much as $10,000. Partial dentures usually run between $700 and $2800, and implant-supported dentures can start at $25,000.
Will Insurance Cover My Dentures?
Most dental insurance policies cover some, if not all, of the cost associated with dentures. However, as all policies vary, you should contact your insurance provider to determine what they will and will not cover.
Schedule an Exam for Dentures Today
Hopefully, the above information has helped to answer many of the questions you may have about dentures.
If you are considering dentures, contact your periodontist to schedule an exam to discuss with them the ideal options for your oral health needs.