Dentures and tooth replacement
Dentures and implants are used when one or more teeth are missing. If all teeth are missing, complete dentures are recommended. Partial dentures are used when you have at least one tooth remaining. Dentures are a cost effective solution for missing teeth.
The chewing efficiency of dentures are only about one fourth that of natural teeth. Further, dentures are not as realistic looking as natural teeth or implants. Your gums will also change over time, changing the fit of your dentures. Periodically, every two or three years you may need to have the base portion of your dentures remade to suit the new shape of your gums. This is known as a denture “relign”. Eventually, the teeth on a denture can also wear down in three to six years, so at that time you may need to have your dentures replaced.
Complete v.s. partial dentures
Complete dentures are when all of the teeth have been extracted and is designed to replace all teeth. Partial dentures are when a patient still has one or more teeth in the arch. With a partial denture, not all of the teeth are replaced. They can be designed to replace one or more teeth, depending on the patient’s individual needs.
Partial dentures do have some advantages over complete dentures. When all teeth are lost, your bone ridge will slowly begin to shrink over time. This shrinkage not only changes the fit of your dentures, but will eventually require you to have your dentures religned or replaced. As with partial dentures, some natural teeth will remain and these tend to help slow the bone loss process. This bone preservation can be considered an indirect benefit of partial dentures.
Another advantage of partial dentures over complete dentures is a firmer fit. Partial dentures hold onto natural teeth with a firm, customized fit. Your teeth then act as anchors to give a more stable and enjoyable denture. If teeth are lost in the future, it is usually possible to add additional teeth to the partial denture.
Steps in denture fabrication
Dr. Steve Mocrae will first take molds of your mouth which will be used to pour up models of your teeth. The models are sent to the dental lab where they will be used to make custom fitted dentures. It takes approximately three to four appointments to properly fabricate your dentures. These appointments are once a week and are how we carry out adjustments on a step by step basis. With each appointment, the dentures will return to the lab to be further adjusted. The goal is to achieve the most comfortable, secure fit possible.
What to expect while wearing new dentures
Dentures are not as efficient as natural teeth, as they tend to move slightly in the mouth. For patients who experience a lot of movement, we can apply denture adhesive that will help hold them in place daily.
People normally chew their food on one side of the mouth. However, this practice with dentures tends to push the denture up on one side of the mouth, and down on the opposite side. This will “break the seal” and the denture will come loose. When chewing with a denture, it is a good idea to retrain yourself to chew on both sides at the same time. This will allow the dentures to remain more stable.
You may also find problems if you try to bite food off with your front teeth. This uneven chewing can often unseat the denture at the back of your mouth. If you experience this complication, try biting at the side a bit more, where the eye teeth are. This will allow the denture to be a bit more stable.
It takes at least a month to get used to talking and eating. If sore mouth spots form, or the bite is off, you will need to return for adjustment appointments. Sometimes, several appointments are needed to adjust the fit. Patience is required here as your mouth tissues are slowly getting used to the dentures. If sore spots do develop, the gum tissue will become stronger as they heal. It’s important that once you have started to wear your new dentures that you plan extra time to have adjustments done.
The majority of patients choose dentures over implants due to costs. Implants are more cosmetically favorable and stable, but are much more expensive.