When we think about dentures, we typically associate them with the elderly population. While many denture wearers are, in fact, elderly, an important number of denture patients are adult patients who have congenital dental disorders or who have been involved in serious accidents.
The number one cause of tooth loss in the developed world is periodontitis. Periodontitis, or gum disease, occurs when irritation of the gums by plaque and acids in the mouth progresses to the point of being severe. In this state, plaque solidifies into tartar which collects around the lower portions of the teeth where it irritates the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. Once tartar is established, it cannot be brushed and flossed away. Only a professional cleaning removes harmful tartar from the enamel. When tartar is on the teeth long enough, the irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue causes it to pull away from the tooth, creating a pocket or trench between the gum and the tooth. This pocket allows bacteria and acid to reach further and further into the space between the gums and the teeth, eventually resulting in diseased tissue and exposed roots – finally leading to tooth loss.
Dentures traditionally refer to removable false teeth, but in the era of implant-mounted dentures that definition has become broader. There are two parts of dentures: maxillary (upper arch) and mandibular (lower arch) and they can be offered in a variety of ways.
Removable partial dentures offer false teeth to fill in gaps between healthy teeth and can be removed for storage and cleaning.
Natural teeth or dental implants are used to anchor partial dentures in the mouth. Unlike removable dentures, a dentist appointment is required to remove these false teeth.
Complete dentures replace every tooth and can be made with a hard palate or without any palate at all. Full-palated dentures restrict sense of taste which plays a major part in the decision to retain it.
Before getting dentures, patients experience many challenges in their daily life, particularly where some natural teeth have remained and are unhealthy. Having teeth removed allows the gums to heal and stops painful infection, but their overall impact on patient physiological and biological health cannot be underestimated.
With dentures, patients are able to consume more than a liquid diet. More diversity in their diet with the ability to chew casts eating in a more positive light. Patients whose diets have been severely restricted due to the condition of their teeth, or lack thereof, often find themselves engaging more in social eating and congregation when they can participate in the meal.
Chewing, however, is a learning curve for those with dentures. Since dentures sit on top of the gums rather than being anchored into the jaw, they will not behave the way natural teeth do. In order to chew effectively with dentures, it is important that patients allow more time for meals until the process becomes automatic. Even distribution of food on both sides of the mouth is the key to effective chewing with dentures.
Many of the sounds made in any language rely upon the teeth to articulate. Without teeth, clear speech can become difficult and frustrating for the patient. Dentures offer a return to effective speech, though there may be some adjustment period.
The improvement in appearance offered by dentures is remarkable. Modern dentures are hyper-realistic in appearance and made to look as natural as possible. In the past, patients were grateful for the functionality that dentures returned to their lives, but they were not an esthetic that they were proud of. Shockingly white and Chicklet dentures are a thing of the past.
The improvement in quality of life with dentures can be life-changing for those with serious oral health challenges. Their confidence returns, their interest in socializing increases, and because they can be proud of their appearance once again – they smile more!
Dentures are made of durable material that is cavity-proof, meaning you don’t need to worry about flossing between the teeth. Despite this, dentures should be cleaned regularly. If the dentures are removable, they should be removed for gentle cleaning with a soft bristled toothbrush and a product of your dentist’s recommendation. Do not soak your dentures overnight to clean them unless your dentist has expressly instructed you to do so. Fixed dentures should also be brushed as well using a gentle toothbrush.
Is it important to note that although dentures cannot be harmed by acid or plaque in the mouth, they can become irreversibly stained. Talk to your dentist about what staining drinks should be avoided, and always remove dentures if possible before smoking.
For questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.