Dentures are one of the many options for replacing missing teeth; some of the others include fixed bridgework and dental implants. Each method has its particular pluses and minuses, which should be carefully considered. There are different types of dentures available to address specific issues, from partial dentures to implant-supported overdentures. The best option for you will depend on your individual situation, and should be carefully discussed with your doctor.
How Do Dentures Work?
Full or partial dentures consist of a gum-colored base made of plastic resin with artificial teeth that sits on the gums. The prosthetic teeth projecting from the base are designed to look and function just like your natural teeth. Dentures solely rely on the gum tissue for support, that’s why it’s so important that they are fitted properly.
At first, wearing dentures may require some getting used to in terms of talking and eating, as your chewing muscles and lips need time to get used to balancing the denture in your mouth. But over time, the muscles, nerves and ligaments of the mouth learn to work in new ways, which allows these functions to occur normally. Dentures also help support the facial skeleton and the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks, which can help create a more youthful appearance.
How are dentures made and fitted?
Making a custom fitted denture is an elaborate process. First, an accurate impression (mold) is made of the top and bottom of your mouth. The base of the denture is made from this mold in a dental laboratory. Working together, the dentist and lab technician choose from among many different sizes and shapes of prosthetic teeth to re-create a natural-looking smile. It often requires 3-4 appointments to get the exact fit and dimensions right so you can chew and speak with the dentures comfortably.
What to Expect After You Get Dentures
Immediate or temporary denture:
If you’ve recently lost your teeth and received an immediate denture, it’s normal to find some tissue shrinkage and bone loss occurring. Therefore, in several months you may find that your immediate dentures no longer fit well. You will have two choices at this point: You can have your immediate (temporary) dentures re-lined. This means that material is added under the denture’s base to better conform to the new contours of your alveolar ridge. A better option is to move to a set of permanent dentures, which will last longer and fit better.
Dentures are made of hard acrylic. While you’re adjusting to your new denture, you may experience some pain as the tough denture base rubs against the soft gum tissue. This is normal for most new dentures. Just like the process of breaking into a new pair of shoes, dentures also require some fine tweaking after they’re initially inserted. If you’re having some sore spots while using your dentures, call your dentist for a quick adjustment appointment. With proper care, dentures offer a functional, aesthetic and economical solution to replace missing teeth.