Missing all or most of your teeth is far more than a cosmetic problem. Sure, the person may avoid smiling and may be self-conscious when speaking. But they also are likely to have nutritional deficiencies, changes in their bite alignment, and significant jawbone deterioration. Dentures from Drs. Gill and Kenson can give a person a beautiful smile, new self-confidence, and the ability to eat a normal diet once again.
What are dentures?
A denture is a dental prosthesis for replacing missing teeth and their surrounding tissues to help chew food, improve speaking habits, and improve the patient’s facial aesthetics. A full denture is a removable replacement for an entire set of missing teeth (top, bottom, or both). A partial denture replaces only a portion of the teeth.
Complete dentures are also known as “conventional” dentures. These are the permanent dentures the patient wears for years. They are placed two to three months after tooth extraction. You may have heard the term “immediate” dentures, but those are simply temporary dentures used while your gums heal and your conventional dentures are being made.
Am I a good candidate for dentures?
American Dental Association statistics show that one quarter of Americans over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth. Another sizable number or people are missing many teeth. When a person starts the process of losing teeth to decay and gum disease, he or she may simply give up hope and opt to eat a soft diet. But beyond the loss of a well-rounded diet also comes a loss of self-confidence as the wearer avoids smiling or otherwise showing their lack of teeth in public.
Dentures give a patient back his or her smile and their self-confidence. Dentures can:
- Allow the wearer to chew and bite properly.
- Give the patient back their self-confidence.
- Allow the patient to eat a healthier, well-rounded diet again.
- Can return normal speech patterns.
- Improve the patient’s facial structure.
Full or partial dentures?
If the patient is missing all of his or her teeth, a full denture is their only option. This many even be true is the patient has a few remaining teeth, but they are so badly decayed that they need to be extracted. After extraction, the gums are allowed to heal for two to three months before the new dentures are placed.
Full dentures are held in place through pressure provided by the tongue and cheeks, along with suction created onto the gums. Some people need to use denture adhesive, but Dr. Gill and Dr. Kenson create expertly fit dentures that usually won’t need adhesives.
The better solution is to keep a few remaining natural teeth that can act as anchors for the 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 base. Fixed partial dentures are anchored permanently to crowns on the abutting teeth. With removable partial dentures, the denture is connected to metal framework that holds the denture in place, but also allows the denture to be removed.
What is the process when getting dentures?
Getting dentures from Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson takes from two to three months. Why? Getting the right fit is crucial to your satisfaction, and we don’t rush things when it comes to this aspect of denture fitting. The process starts with the removal of any overly damaged teeth, and the subsequent time to let the gums heal. To give you the ability to chew food in the interim, we create a set of “immediate” dentures. These dentures will act as temporary stand-in dentures while we go about the process of creating and fitting your permanent dentures.
Once your gums have healed, this is the process for getting dentures:
- We take full impressions of your mouth and gums. We also take a series of measurements that detail the upper and lower jaws and the space between them.
- From those impressions we create what we call demo dentures out of either wax or plastic. These are made to the precise shape and position of what will be your permanent dentures. But we use these demo dentures to test the color, fit, thickness, shape, and function.
- Once our team and you believe we have a good fit, we make another set of final impressions of your gums and mouth. We send these to the dental lab, along with the demo dentures, for the creation of your permanent dentures.
- When they are finished you return to our offices and we test your new dentures. We will make adjustments in the office, and then send you home for a few days to see how you like the fit. From there, we will continue to adjust the fit until you are completely satisfied with the final feel of your new teeth.
Does it hurt to wear dentures?
There is definitely a period of adjustment when first wearing your new dentures. In the beginning, they will feel loose, almost as if they could fall out. But this changes as the muscles in your cheeks and tongue adjust, along with your gums. During this period, your gums can become irritated.
Getting comfortable eating and speaking will take some practice. In the beginning, you’ll need to eat soft foods cut into small pieces, but as you get the hang of chewing with your dentures you can return to a normal diet. Still, with dentures, you’ll need to avoid extremely sticky and hard foods.
Speaking will also take practice, especially if you’ve been missing all of your teeth for some time. The best way to quickly get used to speaking with dentures is to practice by reading aloud.
These issues apply only to full dentures, as partial dentures require little, if any, adjustment.
How long will my dentures last?
Complete dentures usually have a lifespan of five to seven years. The false teeth don’t degrade; it’s the underlying gum tissue and jawbone beneath the dentures that change. These changes dictate relining, rebasing, or remaking the dentures. We will usually keep the artificial teeth on top of the dentures, but will have the base that sits on the gums re-formed to adjust the fit.
The lifespan of partial dentures varies widely depending on the location in the mouth and the home care of the appliance.
How do I maintain my dentures?
Full dentures are not intended to be worn for 24 hours. Removing them allows your gum tissues to rest and allows normal stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and your saliva. Full dentures should be removed every night, brushed, and then placed in water or a cleansing solution.
Cleaning dentures isn’t difficult; you simply brush them. But you don’t use regular toothpaste because it contains too many abrasives that can create minute scratches and channels on your dentures. Instead, you brush your dentures with specific denture toothpaste. This brushing removes food particles and plaque, just as brushing does with your natural teeth. After brushing you place your dentures in water or cleaning solution for the night, to keep them moist.
What are my alternatives to dentures?
The only real alternative to dentures is dental implants. Dental implants consist of a titanium “implant” that is placed into the socket formerly occupied by the natural tooth root. The jawbone grows around the implant and makes it a part of the jaw. Then an artificial tooth is attached to the implant.
Replacing all of your teeth with implants is really not a realistic option for most people, as the cost would be prohibitive. However, Drs. Gill and Kenson are big fans of using implants to anchor dentures. A series of four implants on the top and four on the bottom can provide great stability for dentures attached to these implants. This eliminates problems such as slipping.
Schedule a consultation
If you are missing teeth, dentures could be a great option for you. Our practice serves Golden, Denver and surrounding areas. Call (303) 277-9600 to schedule a consultation today!