Do You Need Dentures?
Dentures aren’t as big of a deal as they used to be. The stigma surrounding dentures is gone, mostly because modern dentures look so realistic that no one would ever know you were wearing them. Dentures are a valuable solution for patients with significant tooth damage or tooth loss, who may not benefit from solutions like crowns or bridges. They’re a more affordable and less extensive alternative to dental implants.
First Dental Center assists patients seeking dentures in Southwest Tucson. Dr. Kimberly Yang has a wealth of experience assessing a patient’s oral health and fitting them for dentures, or helping them to explore other options like dental implants. If you believe that full or partial dentures would be a valuable solution for you, we’ve prepared a guide to help you make that decision.
What is a Partial Denture?
A partial denture is almost the same thing as a dental bridge. Bridges are typically used to replace one or two consecutive missing teeth. Partials can be designed to replace multiple missing teeth, whether or not those teeth are consecutive.
If you still have several healthy natural teeth, there’s no reason to remove them to accommodate a full denture. A partial can be custom designed to circumvent the healthy teeth, leaving them in place and filling in the empty spaces around them. The rest of the teeth on the partial will be matched to the colors and shapes of the existing teeth, helping the partial blend in to your natural teeth seamlessly.
Partials will also prevent healthy teeth from moving around the mouth. Gum tissue is soft. Teeth hold other teeth in place. When the mouth is full of empty spaces, teeth can sometimes migrate out towards the vacant spaces, creating gaps in your smile. A partial will prevent this migration, keeping your healthy teeth where they’re supposed to be. They can’t move into a full space.
What is a Full Denture?
A full denture is any denture made to replace an entire upper or lower jaw full of teeth. If only one or two healthy teeth remain on the upper or lower jaw, it may be worth having them extracted to fit a proper full denture. Severely decayed or infected teeth will obviously need to be removed before a full denture can be used.
There are two options for full dentures, and one is much better than the other. Many people are drawn to the idea of immediate dentures. These are made before your teeth are extracted. Your extractions are done and you’re sent home with a ready to wear denture. This denture is probably not going to work out very well for you.
Immediate dentures are made before anyone knows what your jaw and your gums will ultimately wind up looking like. Removing teeth changes the bones and the gums, and while this change is slightly predictable, it isn’t predictable enough to create a good fit. Many people with immediate dentures experience problems with the fit once their gums have healed.
Patience pays off at the end. Be wary of the promises made of immediate dentures. They may wind up costing you more in the long run than dentures that were fitted properly the first time. You won’t be able to eat solid food or speak properly while your gums are healing anyway. Wait some time to heal and get beautiful dentures that will function the way you want them to.
Your second option is conventional dentures. Many people are put off by the idea of waiting a couple weeks for replacement teeth after their extractions are performed. In the end, it’s worth the wait to have dentures that will work better for you. These dentures will be made to fit your mouth after your gums have healed. This means that the fit is far less likely to change in the near future. The swelling is gone and the bones have healed. Your jaw is going to stay the same for quite a while. This means fewer trips back to the dentist for fit adjustments.
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Can I Get Dental Implants Instead of Dentures?
Dental implants are a great solution for patients who only need partial dentures. If you have several teeth missing but many healthy teeth remain, permanent dental implants can be used to fill those gaps. Dental implants can also be used to replace an entire mouth of teeth, as long as the patient’s gum tissue and bones remain healthy enough to hold the implant screws.
While dental implants are easy to care for, they’re also more expensive to fit and install. For this reason, many people opt for partials or full dentures. If you can afford implants and are seeking a more permanent option, speak with your dentist. You can be evaluated for a full or partial mouth of dental implants.
What Are Dentures Made Of?
Today’s dentures are made of realistic looking acrylic resins, composite resins, porcelain, and hard acrylic. Porcelain is used less frequently because the material is heavier and more prone to damage than state of the art acrylic resins. These resins are lightweight, so patients don’t often feel the weight pulling on their gums while they eat, talk, and chew.
Some partial dentures may use metal to hold themselves in place. This metal is safe for everyone who does not have an allergy to it. If you need to wear hypoallergenic earrings or if your skin reacts to the backside of the grommets or buttons on your jeans, tell your dentist before you get a partial. Metal material can be swapped or, in some cases, outright eliminated from the design of your partial denture.
These resins are mixed with special pigments to mimic tooth and gum colors. These resin materials often maintain a wet look, just like natural tooth and gum tissue. No one would ever raise an eyebrow at most modern dentures. Technology and craftsmanship have progressed to a point where dentures are essentially indistinguishable from naturally occurring teeth and gum tissue.
How Are Dentures Fitted?
Denture fitting begins with sizing and color matching. The health of your mouth will first be assessed. If you have extractions to be performed or gum disease to be treated, this will be done first. After that, your dentist will take x-rays of your mouth. Casts of your jaw will need to be taken. To create a mold for the base of your dentures. This assures a good fit.
The lab that creates the dentures makes gum material and tooth material in natural shades. The gums of your dentures should match the color of your natural gums. The tooth shade should match the color of any remaining teeth. This is important if you’re only getting an upper or a lower. You want your top and bottom teeth to be as close to the exact same color as possible.
If you’re getting both uppers and lowers, you have a little more say in the final shade of your teeth. They only have to match each other. Many people getting both upper and lower dentures will choose a natural shade of white for their teeth. There’s no reason to match stains and discolorations that no longer exist. You can make the most of your experience by choosing a natural white smile. Just don’t go too white – artificially white smiles are a dead giveaway that your teeth are artificial in nature.
When your dentures are ready, you’ll come back to the dentist for a try-on. The fit needs to be evaluated. Dentures that are too tight will irritate the gums. Dentures that are too loose will fail to create the necessary suction to stay in place, causing uncomfortable slippage.
Your gums may still be healing following your extractions. Although the changes to the shape and size of your gums will be subtle, they may be enough to disturb your fit. Plan to have several follow up appointments to gauge your fit as time goes on. You may need your dentures re-lined to adjust the fit.
Maintaining Your Dentures
Although dentures won’t develop cavities or decay like normal teeth, they’re still exposed to the same outside factors. Dentures can hold bacteria or food particles. They can stain from many of the foods and drinks you consume, like red wine or coffee. You still need to clean your dentures as thoroughly and as often as you’d clean biological teeth. Allowing bacteria to accumulate is harmful to the health of your mouth, whether or not you have natural teeth.
You can use a soft bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste made specifically for dentures. Most conventional toothpastes aren’t designed with dentures in mind. Whitening toothpastes can actually ruin your dentures. You might aim to remove stains from your dentures, but wind up causing uneven spots on the artificial tooth material, leading to the appearance of tie-dyed teeth. Dental resin doesn’t interact with peroxide the same way that natural teeth do. If you need your dentures whitened, see your dentist.
Many people use overnight soaks for their dentures to keep them sanitary and prevent staining. Follow the package instructions for these overnight soaks and be sure to thoroughly rinse off any remaining solution on your dentures before you put them back in your mouth. Your dentist may recommend a special soaking solution designed to work best with your particular dentures.
What to Do When Dentures No Longer Fit Properly
Even after your mouth has healed, your bones and gums will continue to shrink with time. Since your body is no longer sending a blood supply to your teeth and your gums are free from inflammation, they may change shape and size. Your dentures may not fit the same after a few years. When this happens, you don’t necessarily need an entirely new denture. You may be able to reline your current dentures for a better fit.
A major sign that your dentures don’t fit properly is that you find yourself using denture adhesive. This adhesive is only necessary when your dentures are too loose. A well fitted denture stays in place without slipping all on its own. Adhesive is used to fill the gaps and readjust the fit every day.
It’s rare that a whole new denture will need to be created. Unless your dentures are irreparably broken or your bone has significantly deteriorated, there’s no reason to replace them entirely. It’s more efficient on your time and money to adjust the dentures you currently have.
Most patients benefit from a soft relining, which is a simple re-fit performed with a soft liquid polymer material. New casts are taken of the gums and the relining material is secured to the inside of the denture, fitting the gaps that have appeared since your dentures were originally made.
Getting Great Dentures
If you believe that full or partial dentures will be a valuable solution for you, contact First Dental Center Tucson. We’re experts at providing our patients in Tucson with comfortable dentures that look so natural, they’d pass for your own set of teeth. You can contact us using our convenient form if you’d like to book an appointment. We’ll respond as soon as possible to confirm your appointment details.
You can call us at 520-825-2394 if you have any questions. We’re a bilingual office, and we’re available to answer calls in both English and Spanish. Drop by our office at 1710 W Valencia Road, Suite 190. We’re conveniently located one exit south of the Spectrum Shopping Center and a mile east of Mission road.