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When it comes to lost teeth, there are many practical replacement options to restore one's smile. Missing teeth are not just a question of appearance; they also affect the health of the remaining teeth as well as everyday comfort. Dentures and partial dentures are popular tooth replacement options that are customized for an optimal fit.
Dentures Can Help Prevent Further Oral Health Issues
The purpose of dental care and oral hygiene is to prevent tooth loss as much as possible. However, there are cases in which tooth loss is unavoidable. When an infection advances to later stages or begins to spread, tooth extraction may become the only option. If a tooth falls out on its own or is knocked out, there is a chance the empty socket can cause the other teeth to begin to shift.
The doctor can help restore missing teeth with dentures or partial dentures. By ensuring there are no more traces of infection in the mouth, dentures can help to prevent the spread of further contamination to the mouth or jaw. Even with dentures, patients will want to continue an oral hygiene routine that involves keeping the gums and mouth clean.
With partial dentures or at least several natural teeth still in the mouth, it is essential to keep up regular oral hygiene methods, including:
- Daily brushing. As soon as teeth emerge in a child’s mouth, it is vital to brush regularly. It is wise to brush at least twice daily through one’s entire life.
- Consistent flossing. Daily flossing will remove food from between teeth. Doing this will keep bacteria from growing on the gums and beneath the teeth.
- Regular visits to the dentist. Patients should visit our dental staff at least once every six months. More frequent visits may be necessary for restorative care.
While dentures and partial dentures may not be for everyone, they can help people experience the satisfaction of a full smile and eating favorite foods again. Dentures closely resemble natural teeth. We will make sure the artificial teeth match the color of any remaining real teeth. Dentures can also give a person’s cheeks a more defined shape and appearance.
How Dentures Are Made
Dentures consist of a flesh-colored base and the synthetic teeth attached to it. Today, both components are made of a type of acrylic. The artificial teeth are typically made of acrylic resin, which closely approximates the appearance of real teeth.
Once the decision is made to proceed with dentures, the patient will make an appointment for the impression. The dentist will put a tray with a thick paste into the patient's mouth to take impressions of the upper and lower teeth. This process usually takes about 20 seconds for each impression. The dentist may offer to apply a numbing agent to the palate beforehand to minimize discomfort.
Afterward, the impressions are used to make a plaster model of the mouth. The dental lab technician then uses wax to attach the teeth. The wax is shaped and trimmed according to the patient's gum shape.
Then the wax shape with attached teeth is placed in a container, sometimes called a flask. Dental stone or plaster is poured around to hold it. The wax is then boiled out, leaving a molding in the shape of the gums, and the acrylic material for the dentures' base is poured in.
The denture is removed from the container, trimmed and polished. At this point, the patient will have the first fitting. While some people may find their dentures fit properly right away, most need to have a few adjustments done for optimal comfort.
It is normal to need several fitting appointments before the dentures fit the way they should. Patients should not hesitate to let the dentist know if something feels wrong. What may seem like a trivial amount of discomfort during fitting can seriously interfere with your quality of life, later on, so be sure to speak up.
Types of Dentures
There are several basic types of dentures. The right option for you can depend on several factors, which Lancaster Family Dentistry can discuss with you. Choosing an option that works for you can help you get the most out of the dentures.
Dentures can be full or partial. A full set can be necessary for patients who are missing all their teeth. In this case, impressions will be taken of the gums and the teeth made to maintain the proportions and distances similar to the real teeth. A partial set can be an option if the patient still has several teeth in good condition remaining.
Additionally, there are also fully removable and bridge-supported dentures. Removable dentures are what most people picture: the base that sits on the gums with attached teeth. They can be easily taken out. While this option is typically more affordable, removable dentures may need several adjustments over the years as the mouth's shape changes.
Bridge-supported dentures are also removable but do not have a base. They are clipped on to four or six dental implants. These implants are small titanium posts that are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Eventually, the implants fuse with the bone.
Due to the implants, bridge-supported dentures tend to be more costly than other options. They also involve minor surgery. However, many people find they feel more secure and are more comfortable because they do not need a base. The implant procedure can also reduce future bone loss, which can be familiar with missing teeth.
Not all patients are good candidates for fixed dentures. Those who already suffer extensive bone loss may not have enough bone to support the implants. Some other health concerns can also prevent implants from being a good option.
Options Other Than Dentures and Partial Dentures
Dentures have been improved in design for over a hundred years. Today they are a viable option for patients of all ages, whether one tooth needs to be replaced or many. At Lancaster Family Dentistry, we can advise patients on when this treatment would suit their oral health needs. At our office, we can also advise you on other options for replacing missing teeth. Each type of tooth replacement has distinguishing qualities. There are two primary categories of tooth replacement other than dentures:
- Dental implants. These are artificial teeth similar in look and feel to natural teeth. They have roots made with screws that are inserted into the jaw for stability. Implants are highly durable with the capacity to last a lifetime with proper care.
- Dental bridge. A bridge closes the space left by missing teeth; hence, why they are referred to as “bridges.” Bridges are held in place by either natural teeth or implants with artificial teeth bridging the space and two or more crowns placed over the teeth and connected to an artificial tooth.
Helping Dentures Last With Proper Care
Dentures can work effectively for up to 10 years. This time frame will depend mainly on the person’s commitment and diligence to maintaining the appliance. Just as patients should brush and floss natural teeth, people must do the same with dentures. These habits will help prevent and remove stains from artificial teeth, helping to preserve the color.
Each night, patients should remove the dentures and soak the appliance in a solution that we recommend to help clean the dentures. After every meal, the wearer should take out the dentures and rinse them off. When doing this, the person must be careful not to drop the appliance. It may be helpful to place a towel on the counter or in the sink.
Dentures should allow the person to eat most foods without any issues. However, the patient should be careful about chewing hard items such as candy, nuts, and ice. Sticky foods can also pull the dentures out of the person’s mouth. If the person notices any damage to the base or artificial teeth, they should contact our office right away.
People should not try to fix the dentures without professional assistance. An article on the American Dental Association website offers more information on the subject of maintaining dentures and what to do if the break. In all cases of the dentures sustaining damage, it is crucial to call us for repairs.
Common Myths and Misconceptions
One of the most common myths we hear about dentures is that once a patient gets their dentures created and placed, they are set for life. Remember that dentures typically last for 5-10 years. Since this is a wide span of years, patients may wonder how to know when they need new dentures. If the color has changed dramatically or there is physical damage, dentures may need replacement. The most telling sign, however, is when they no longer fit securely.
Some people may also believe that if they remove all their teeth and get full dentures, they’ll never need to set foot in a dentist’s office again. The truth is that dentists are in the best position to tell patients whether or not they need to get their dentures repaired or replaced. In fact, the dentist may adjust dentures during annual or bi-annual visits to keep them fitting correctly. Dentists also pay keen attention to gum health. If the patient smokes or suffers from illnesses that may affect the gums, this is even more important.
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