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What you need to know about dentures

Dentures are custom-made removable artificial teeth used to replace a person’s missing teeth and restore their appearance and oral functions.

Dentures can replace one or more teeth. A replacement of one or more tooth is called a partial denture. If it involves all teeth in an arch, then it’s called a full denture.

When a person is missing teeth, he or she may experience a variety of problems. The person may become less confident in their smile and have difficulty speaking and eating certain foods.

Different types of dentures

Complete dentures: Complete dentures are made of an acrylic base. It is colored in order to resemble gum tissue and supports a full set of plastic or porcelain teeth. The traditional full denture is held in the mouth by forming a seal with the gums. Also, they can be held in place by attaching dental implants that are surgically placed in the bone of the jaws. This treatment requires more of a financial investment than the traditional complete denture. The implants allow the patient to bite with a solid biting force like natural teeth. Some full dentures occasionally require dental adhesive to help create the glue to keep the denture in place.

Partial dentures: Partial dentures can either be made with a plastic base or a metal base that supports the number of teeth that need to be replaced. It is held in the mouth by using clasps that are carefully adapted around the remaining teeth. Plastic partial dentures have normally been used as emergency or temporary replacements of missing teeth, allowing the gums and bone to heal before a permanent solution is completed.

Immediate partial dentures

If the area where the tooth loss is in the smile zone or in its proximity, the dentist would usually construct an immediate replacement, thereby avoiding any embarrassment. You leave the office with replacement teeth.

How dentures are made

The process of making dentures begin by taking a series of impressions or molds of the oral tissues that will support the denture. Today, due to advances in technology, we are able to take these impressions digitally. The digital image is then placed on a computer screen and the details sent to a dental lab. The dental lab will use either the digital or physical impressions to make models of the patient’s mouth.

Alternatives to dentures

Yes, the alternatives to dentures are dentures attached by dental implants or bridges.

Bridges: A bridge replaces missing teeth by placing crowns on the teeth next to the space and attaching a false tooth to both of the crowns. Bridges are made from gold, porcelain fused to gold, all porcelain, or special ceramics. Bridges can only replace about two to three missing teeth in a row, depending on the location. Since bridges are cemented in place, they are considered a “fixed or permanent denture.”

Dental implants: An implant is a highly specialized titanium post that is inserted into the bone of the upper or lower jaw. This insert is then used to replace a single tooth by attaching a crown to it, or multiple teeth by attaching a bridge to multiple implants. Implants normally require a greater financial investment and are usually the best option for tooth replacement. Implants are the most secured and long-lasting replacement for missing teeth.

Will dentures affect the way you look and eat?

Dentures can naturally restore and improve a person’s appearance and replace missing teeth. Eating with the dentures in place require some practice. It is best to start with soft foods, chewing food equally on both sides of the mouth and slowly introducing more solid foods. Chewy or sticky foods should be avoided. Once the cheeks and tongue become accustomed to the denture, they will begin to automatically help keep the denture in place.

How long do
dentures last?

If cared for properly, dentures should last about five years. Over time though, the bone shrinks and causes the denture to become loose. The rate of shrinkage varies with the individual.

Today, dentures are still common place in dentistry. Dentures are often given to patients because of their convenience and cost effectiveness, especially when compared to implant-supported dentures. Also, many dentists do not offer implants as an alternative due to their limited experience in implant dentistry. If dental implants are placed, then there is every reason to expect your denture to last well over 20 years or for the rest of your life.

Speak to your dentist today about options for teeth replacement. If you desire a solid bite and an increased taste experience, then maybe an implant supported denture is for you.

Next week: The three dangers of tooth loss and poor fitting dentures that you should know.

• Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry, a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified Fastbraces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue. He can be reached at telephone (242) 325-5165 or kmajorcsd

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