When we hear the word dentures, a lot of things come to mind. The first image that we visualize in our brain is usually an ugly set of false teeth resting inside a glass of water. A close second would have to be the sight of Grandpa taking a set of dentures out of his mouth before dinner, adjusting them and then putting them back in. It is truly a sight that you will never forget, no matter how much you may want to. One thing that we can all agree on is that Dentures are not anyone’s idea of a sexy, cool topic of discussion. But for those of us out there with some missing teeth, dentures are an absolute necessity. Without a full set of teeth, it is impossible to eat properly. Gumming down one’s dinner is not a very pleasing prospect and it certainly doesn’t promote good nutrition.
Having even just a few missing teeth can interfere with one’s ability to speak properly. When it comes to appearances, you could be the least vain person in the world but one thing for certain is that your smile looks better when you can flash a full set of those pearly whites. Due to advances in dental science and new lab techniques, the dentures that you will be fitted with are better-looking, more natural in appearance and much less obvious. This is particularly true of partial dentures that are equipped with precision attachments, which are nearly invisible to the naked eye.
Putting off speaking with your dentist is not the way to go. You could actually be endangering your health by doing so. The old-fashioned stigma that was once a part of wearing dentures does not apply any longer and it is not just the elderly who wear dentures. People of all ages are known to wear either full or partial dentures. Your favorite Pro Wrestler, UFC fighter or Hockey player in his twenties or thirties may very likely be wearing a set of partial dentures. Teeth get knocked out when accidents happen.
What are Dentures?
A denture is a removable replacement for teeth that are missing, as well as the surrounding tissues. Dentures are made out of various metals and acrylic resin. There are two types of Dentures available for patients, Complete dentures and Partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all or most of a patients’ teeth are missing, either from extraction, trauma, disease or tooth decay. Partial dentures are used when only some of your natural teeth are still present. Dentures can be applied to either your upper or lower jaw or both, if necessary.
What is the difference between Conventional and Immediate dentures?
Well, the difference is considerable and should always be a subject for discussion between you and your dental professional. Complete dentures cover both categories. Conventional dentures are made in a dental lab, after your teeth have been removed and the surrounding gum tissue has healed. The healing process can take up to eight weeks. So you will be without any teeth, natural or false for that period of time.
Immediate dentures, however, are made in advance, so your dentist can insert them within minutes of your problem teeth having been removed. You can walk out of the office with a full set of “teeth”. Be aware though that there is a “catch”. Bones and gums do shrink over time. This is especially true after dental surgery and tooth extraction. During the healing process, your Immediate set of dentures may require minor or even major adjustments, so that they will fit properly.
Are Partial Dentures the answer?
They could be, but only if there are at least a couple of teeth remaining in the upper or lower jaw. The replacement teeth are attached to a pink bubble gum colored plastic base. Metal clasps or the aforementioned precision attachments hold everything in place in your mouth. A fixed bridge replaces the missing teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This bridge is then cemented into place by your dentist. Voila! You are done. The gaps in your mouth have been filled in and you could not be happier!
If I have insurance will it cover the cost of Dentures?
Yes, it should. However, it is always best to contact the customer service reps at your insurance provider and get the specifics. Some Insurers cover the entire cost of dentures. Others will only pick up a portion of the expenses. You don’t want any unpleasant financial surprises or sticker shock, so make that call before you even walk into your dentists’ office for the initial consultation.
I am very interested. How long will the process take?
Only your dentist or Prosthodontist (a dentist whose specialty is tooth replacement and restoration), can answer that question accurately. On average, you can count on the process playing out over one month and four to five appointments. Once your dentist determines which type of denture is best suited to your needs, he or she will make a series of impressions of your jaw and take specific measurements of the jaw and mouth.
It is important to determine how the jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them. This is called the Bite relationship. Then wax models or plastic patterns in the exact shape and form of the denture will be made. The color and shade of the replacement teeth in your new dentures will also be determined.
You will try this denture model on several times, while adjustments are made. When your dentist is satisfied that everything is perfect, the model will be sent to the dental lab so that your dentures can be made.
My new Dentures look good but feel awkward. Is this normal?
Getting used to your new dentures is not a piece of cake. There will be a period of adjustment. After all, there is a foreign object in your mouth. You are probably fearful that it may slip while you are eating or speaking or that the denture may fall out of your mouth altogether. You have to get comfortable wearing the dentures as well as putting them in and removing them from your mouth. Yes, your new dentures will feel a little bulky or loose in your mouth for the first few weeks. Some mouth irritation and soreness may also occur. But these problems will diminish over time. Your mouth, cheek muscles and tongue has to get used to the dentures.
Will Dentures change how and what I can eat?
Not entirely, but you will have to exercise caution and care. Eating with your new set of dentures takes practice. Start off with soft foods and cut veggies and meats into little pieces. For the first few weeks, avoid any foods that are very hard or sticky. If you love caramel or chewing gum, place whatever you have left and shut it away in a drawer. Gum can wreak havoc with your brand new teeth. Dentists advise that patients make sure to chew on both sides of the mouth to avoid putting too much pressure on one side of the dentures.
Okay, I am learning to live with my new set of “teeth”. Am I taking care of my Dentures properly?
Glad that you asked. Because if you do not look after them, your dentures will not give you the better quality of life that you are expecting. Brush the denture like you would your natural teeth, so that all debris, food deposits and plaque is thoroughly removed. Remove the dentures at night and place them in water or a denture cleansing solution that has the American Dental Association seal of approval. Failure to keep your dentures moist can cause your dentures to lose their shape and that will mean a trip back to the dentist and and the loss of your new set of teeth.
Dental Adhesives- Yes or No?
Sometimes adhesives can be used as a placebo for a new denture wearer who is worried that they will slip or fall out. Adhesives re-inforce the patient’s sense of security and also enhance the retention and stability of the denture itself. But if your set of dentures seem to be always loose or are causing you extreme discomfort, then a trip to the dentist is in order. Older dentures may be in need of replacement. You should not fall back on adhesives as a quick fix.
No matter what we do in life, to improve our health and/or appearance there will always be cause for concern. After care and upkeep are what matters. Dentures aren’t a magical device from Harry Potter. You need to take care of them and they will take care of you. You eat better, speak more clearly and you feel better about yourself. Now go out and show those dentures and your new smile off to the rest of the world!