Dentures are custom-made devices to replace some teeth (partial denture) or all the teeth (full denture). Their goal is to support the facial muscles and lips, improve your ability to chew well and your digestion, improve speech, rejuvenate your appearance.
They need to be changed every 5-7 years because of wear, and sometimes a simple relining allows them to re-adapt to the changing structures in your mouth. The biggest challenge for patients wearing dentures is adaptation. Certain types of bone configuration do not allow for a stable and retentive denture, that is where implants can help. They will allow having housings on the inside of the denture that will ‘’hold’’ the prosthesis and hence make for comfortable wear that will make chewing hard food easier and more enjoyable, almost like your natural teeth.
A similar range of treatment options is also available for your upper jaw. However, because the bone is not as hard as that in the lower jaw, people often need more dental implants to support their new replacement teeth. Depending upon the number of dental implants to be placed, it may be possible to eliminate the need for covering the roof of your mouth with a complete denture. This option allows you to fully taste your food and gives you a better sense of its temperature. Your denture will feel more natural. You will still have a removable denture, which makes cleaning the support bar and denture much easier.
Partial dentures are fabricated out of a metal and acrylic composition or completely out of acrylic. A patient’s specific needs and anatomy dictate the design of the partial denture and every effort is made to construct a self-cleansing partial denture that preserves the remaining teeth and oral tissues.
Your dentist will design your partial denture so that the chewing forces are evenly distributed over the entire surface area of the remaining teeth and soft tissues. Changes to your remaining teeth may be recommended to help equalize these forces.
Metal partials are generally preferred as they are structurally superior. They are thinner and more hygienic than an acrylic partial. Acrylic partials are typically used as a transitional or temporary partial. Your dentist will consult with you to determine the appropriate partial for your situation.
Usually, when you lose a tooth, it is best for your oral health to have it replaced. Missing teeth can affect your bite as well as your ability to speak and chew. Their loss can increase the burden on your remaining teeth and can cause muscle pain in your jaws and headaches. And of course, losing a tooth can affect your appearance.
Although many patients have no problem wearing an upper denture, some people find it difficult to wear and eat with lower dentures. Several implant-supported replacement options are available if you are missing all of your lower teeth.
One option is to have two dental implants placed in your lower jaw and a denture made that snaps onto these dental implants. This option allows your lower denture to be more stable while chewing than without dental implants. However, there will still be a movement of your lower denture, and sore spots will occur if any food particles, especially seeds, are caught under it. As with all removable replacement teeth, you still will need periodic appointments for denture adjustment.
Another option involves placing four-to-six implants, depending on your jaw size or shape, into your lower jaw. After healing is complete, the dental implants are connected with a custom-made support bar. Your denture will be made with special internal retention clips that attach onto the support bar, enabling the denture to snap firmly into place. This is called an overdenture. The advantage of this option is that it is much more stable than the first option and allows very little denture movement. Your denture is still removable for easy cleaning and maintenance.
A third option involves placing five or more implants in your jaw and attaching a permanent denture. Your denture is held in place by screws or clasps that secure it to the support posts or bar. It doesn’t touch the gum tissue, which allows you to clean under the denture without removing it. This denture will replace all your missing lower teeth and will not be removed except at maintenance visits. Although cleaning under your denture without removing it is more time consuming and requires more dexterity, many patients who want a permanent denture prefer this option.