Dentures by Dr. Joel Smith DDS
Missing teeth are more than a cosmetic problem. Sure, their absence may make a person avoid smiling when in public situations. Even regular conversation can be guarded to avoid opening the mouth or whistling when pronouncing certain consonants. But beyond the cosmetic issues, missing teeth can lead to nutritional deficiencies, changes in bite alignment, speech problems, and jawbone deterioration.
For people who have all of their teeth, it may be a surprise to know that one quarter of all Americans over 65 have lost all of their natural teeth. Many others have lost multiple teeth.
Full or partial dentures from Dr. Smith can give you back your smile and your confidence.
What are dentures?
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They can be full (replacing all the teeth on either the upper or lower jaw) or partial. Partial dentures are sometimes called bridges. When only some teeth are damaged, partial dentures will do just fine in restoring their appearance.When all of the teeth are missing or removed, a complete denture is the obvious choice. Complete dentures are called conventional, which actually could be called “permanent,” and are placed from two to three months after tooth extraction. Another term you may have heard is “immediate dentures,” but those are simply temporary dentures that are used while your gums heal and your conventional dentures are being fabricated. During your consultation with Dr. Smith, he will advise you on which treatment you need based on your individual condition.
How will dentures help me?
Some people wonder just what dentures would do for them beyond being able to chew harder foods. Well-fit dentures with Dr. Smith go beyond those benefits. They…
- Improve the ability to chew and bite properly.
- Allow the patient to again eat healthy hard foods such as nuts and fruit.
- Improve the wearer’s self-confidence and self-image.
- End the slurred consonant sounds created by missing teeth.
- Improve the wearer’s facial structure.
- Keep remaining teeth from moving (partial dentures).
What’s the difference between full and partial dentures?
Obviously, if you’re already missing all your teeth a full denture is in order. Full dentures replace the entire span of teeth. Often if poor hygiene and gum disease have run their course, a person missing most of his or her teeth has to have the remaining teeth extracted due to decay within those teeth. When all of the teeth in the mouth have been removed, the gum tissues will be given enough time to heal, which may take eight to 12 months, before the complete dentures are placed. The patient can choose between “conventional” or “immediate” dentures. Unlike conventional dentures, immediate ones have an advanced design and can be placed in the mouth even during the healing period. Full dentures are held in place through pressure provided by the tongue and cheeks, and suction created onto the gums. Some people use adhesive to add stability, but Dr. Smith believes expertly fit dentures shouldn’t require that.
If you have any remaining teeth that are healthy enough to be saved, partial dentures offer a better solution. This is because we can use those natural teeth as anchor points for the partial dentures. Partial dentures are commonly referred to as “bridges,” and can be fixed or removable. They consist of replacement teeth attached to a pink, gum-colored plastic base. In a removable partial, the denture is connected to metal framework that holds the denture in place, but also allows it to be removed. When fixed, the partial denture is anchored permanently to crowns on the adjacent natural teeth. This treatment is truly beneficial not only on the aesthetic side, but also since it prevents remaining teeth from shifting out of their normal positions, giving an undesirable appearance.
How are dentures made?
The entire process of getting dentures, particularly full dentures, usually takes from two to three months. This involves many fittings. In many cases, the first step in the denture process is to remove badly decayed teeth. So that you’re able to chew while your gums heal, Dr. Smith makes an immediate denture.
After your gums have healed, this is the process Dr. Smith follows:
- Your jaws are measured for the relationship between the upper and lower jaw and the space between. A series of impressions are taken.
- From those impressions we make what you could think of as “demo dentures” out of wax or plastic. These are made in the exact shape and position of your conventional dentures, but are used to check color, shape, thickness, fit, and function.
- Once Dr. Smith and you agree that you like the fit and structure, final impressions are made for your final denture. These are sent to the dental lab for fabrication.
- When the dentures are finished we test them for fit and make further adjustments. From there, we will probably make a few more minute adjustments as you get used to wearing your new dentures.
How hard is it to wear dentures?
New dentures do take getting used to. At first they will feel loose, possibly feeling as if they could fall out. But your muscles in the cheeks and tongue soon adjust, as do your gums. Sometimes your gums can become irritated as they adjust.
Eating and speaking will take some practice. In the beginning, you’ll need to eat soft foods cut into small pieces. As you get the hang of eating with your dentures you can return to a normal diet, but you should avoid extremely sticky and hard foods. Speech will also be an adjustment; the best way to practice is to simply read aloud.
Of course, these are all issues with full dentures, not partials. There is little adjustment needed with partial dentures, although avoiding sticky foods is a must.
How long do dentures last?
Complete dentures usually last from five to seven years. At some point, full dentures usually need to be relined, rebased, or remade. This is because your underlying gum tissues and jawbone change over time. Dr. Smith will have the denture base refit, or a new base may be created using the existing false teeth.
The lifespan of partial dentures is highly variable depending on location in the mouth and care of the appliance.
How do I care for my dentures?
With the exception of fixed partial dentures, dentures are not meant to be worn 24 hours a day. Removing them allows your gum tissues to rest and allows normal stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and your saliva.
You brush dentures, but not with toothpaste, as it is too abrasive and can create microscopic scratches that allow food and plaque to build up. Brushing removes stains and any food or plaque build-up. When brushing is complete, your dentures need to stay moist so they need to be put in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in water.
Schedule a consultation
If you are missing teeth and would like to explore dentures as a treatment, contact our Beaumont, TX office today! Call (409) 895-0089 to schedule a consultation.