While everyone agrees that our own natural teeth are the best, sometimes as a result of genetics, accident, disease or lack of preventative care we can lose one or more teeth. Tooth loss can be serious. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift their position, and can cause problems with the jaws or with one’s ability to chew properly. In such cases, partial or complete dentures may be the most effective solution. Modern dentures can provide an effective solution to restore your smile and your ability to eat properly. There are several common types of dentures:
- Partial dentures – These dental appliances may be used when you have lost only a few teeth, and the teeth on either side of the gap are not strong enough to support permanent bridges. Partial dentures are one or more teeth held in place by clamps that attach to nearby teeth; you remove the partial denture for cleaning and at night.
- Complete (full) dentures – Full dentures (sometimes called “false teeth”) replace all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw, or both. Each denture plate is custom-designed to fit comfortably and snugly in your mouth, allowing you to smile and chew as you would with normal teeth. You remove the denture plates for cleaning and at night.
- Conventional full dentures – If extractions are required, this method requires a period of healing (1-3 weeks) before the dentures can be fitted and worn.
- Immediate full dentures – With this method the dentures are measured and created beforehand, and can be immediately fitted after any extractions have been performed. The obvious advantage is that you do not have to spend any time without teeth, although adjustments may be necessary as healing continues.
- Implant-secured dentures – If you are in good health and the condition of your jaw and gums make you a candidate for them, the most stable option may be dentures that are affixed to titanium posts (called implants or mini-implants) surgically inserted into the jaw. The denture plates are then held firmly by the implants while you are wearing them.
What can you expect if you get dentures?
Naturally, if dentures are recommended for you for you and some or all of your remaining teeth need to be extracted, there is some pain and discomfort associated with that treatment. There will also be a period of healing as your gums heal. The dentures themselves may take some getting used to, but most problems with speaking and with chewing last only a few days. With dentures you chew with less efficiency than you do with natural teeth, so you may find some foods more challenging to eat. But once the initial period of getting used to them is over, dentures very quickly become a natural part of your life.