Dentures, which replace weak or missing teeth, are removable dental appliances that can behave as either a full or partial set of teeth in one or more areas of your mouth. Whereas conventional types of dentures rest on the gum and may be attached to the natural teeth, implant-supported dentures are attached to a foundation that is surgically fixed into the jawbone.
Types of dentures
There are three main types of dentures:
Full dentures. Dentures for replacing a full set of teeth are called full dentures. To replace teeth in the upper jaw, these dentures include a flesh-colored acrylic base that covers the gums and the roof of the mouth, allowing an entire set of false teeth to sit firmly. Full dentures for the lower mouth are similar, but the acrylic base is shaped like a horseshoe to avoid covering the tongue.
Partial dentures. When just a few teeth are missing, partial dentures fill the gap. Partial dentures can be attached to natural teeth in several ways, the most conventional of which uses metal clasps that grip the natural teeth. Another option the dentist may offer is a partial denture, which adheres with precision attachments that are less noticeable. Partial dentures can also be attached to crowns on the natural teeth. These crowns can actually improve the fit of partial dentures, and are often required with precision attachments.
Implant – Supported dentures. As the name suggests, implant – supported dentures are attached to implants in the jawbone that extend outward from the gums. A dentist surgically fits these implants over the course of one or more visits, and they remain in place. An advantage to implant – supported dentures is that they are more stable than other types of dentures – especially in the lower jaw, where conventional dentures are most likely to slip out of place. The implants are usually fitted at the front of the jaw.
Candidates for implant – supported dentures should have healthy gums, good oral care routines and sufficient jawbone, though bone can be rebuilt to a certain degree if needed. The surgery will be refused to patients who don’t meet the requirements for this system. Also, an X-ray taken less than two months is required.
The denture development process takes a few weeks and several appointments. Once your dentist or prosthodontist ( a dentist who specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth ) determines what type of appliance is best for you, the general steps are to:
- Make a series of impressions of your jaw and take measurements of how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.
- Create models, wax forms, and / or plastic patterns in the exact shape and position of the denture to be made. You will “try in” this model several times and the denture will be assessed for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast.
- Cast a final denture.
- Adjustments will be made as necessary.
Looking after your dentures
Dentures may feel a bit strange to begin with, but you’ll soon get used to wearing them. At first, you may need to wear your dentures all the time, including while sleeping. Your dentist or clinical dental technician will advise you on whether you should remove your dentures before you go to sleep. It isn’t always necessary to remove your dentures at night, but doing so can allow your gums to rest as you sleep. If you remove your dentures, they should be kept moist – for example, in water or a polythene bag with some dampened cotton wool in it, or in a suitable overnight denture-cleaning solution. This will stop the denture material from drying out and changing shape.
Keeping your mouth clean is just as important when you wear dentures. You should brush your remaining teeth, gums and tongue every morning and evening with fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. It’s important to regularly remove plaque and food deposits from your dentures, because unclean dentures can also lead to problems, such as bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and oral thrush.
Eating with dentures
When you first start wearing dentures, you should eat soft foods cut into small pieces and chew slowly, using both sides of your mouth. Avoid chewing gum and any food that’s sticky, hard or has sharp edges. You can gradually start to eat other types of food until you’re back to your old diet. Never use toothpicks.
If your dentures fit properly, you shouldn’t necessarily need to use denture fixative ( adhesive ). However, if your jawbone has shrunk significantly, adhesive may be the only way to help retain your dentures. Your dentist or clinical dental technician will advise you if this is the case. At first, some people feel more confident with their dentures if they use adhesive. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using excessive amounts. Adhesive can be removed from the denture by brushing with soap and water. Remnants of adhesive left in the mouth may need to be removed with some damp kitchen roll or a clean damp flannel.
5 – 10 hours
Number of Visits
3 – 4 visits