A denture, or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance used to replace natural teeth. Once expertly fitted and inserted into your mouth, complete dentures and provide much needed support for your cheeks and lips.
Dentures are beneficial in multiple ways:
- Mastication: your chewing ability is improved by replacing missing teeth with dentures.
- Aesthetics: dentures not only restore a natural and attractive appearance to your teeth, but can also correct the collapsed exterior of lips and cheeks that occurs after losing teeth.
- Confidence: a healthy and beautiful-looking smile will help you feel more confident and attractive.
- Phonetics: by replacing missing teeth, you will be able to better pronounce certain words that require the use of all of your teeth to speak correctly.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated one of two ways:
- A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed.
- An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are allowed to heal under the denture.
An upper denture is acrylic and usually flesh colored. It covers the palate (roof of your mouth). A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue. The teeth are made of plastic, porcelain, or a combination of both.
Your dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated teeth or dental implants, providing you with a more effective, more secure fitting appliance. This type of denture is known as an overdenture.
An upper denture is relatively straightforward to fabricate so it is stable without slippage. The lower full denture is typically more complex because there is no “suction” holding it in place like the upper denture. For this reason, there is a general consensus that a lower full denture should be supported by two to four implants placed in the lower jaw.
A lower denture supported by implants is a far more secure placement than one placed without implants. Without implants, the denture is only held in place with weak lower mouth muscles. With a lower denture secured with implants, you can even bite into an apple with ease. Without implants, this would be difficult, at best, and more than likely impossible.
Over a normal course of time, dentures wear and need to be replaced or relined to keep your jaw alignment normal. Remember, alignment of your teeth slowly changes as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink, due to extraction of your teeth. Regular dental examinations are very important for the denture wearer so the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.