Individuals who are missing teeth may struggle to accomplish daily activities such as eating and chewing, but dentures may be able to help. It is estimated that more than one hundred million Americans are missing at least one tooth, some of which are missing even more or possibly all of their teeth. With the steady demand for dentures and the help of modern technology, dentists are typically able to provide patients with customized dentures that may help them reclaim a better overall quality of life.
Types of Dentures
Dentures are artificial teeth and gums designed to replace missing teeth, thus allowing an individual to appear as though they have a complete set of teeth again. Dentures are removable and can be put in and taken out as needed.
For most patients, dentures typically come in two forms:
1. Partial Dentures
Partial dentures are as the name indicates and only replace some teeth because one or more natural teeth are still in place. For this reason, a partial denture may require the utilization of a clasp to anchor artificial teeth to natural teeth.
2. Complete Dentures
Complete dentures typically include a full set of artificial replacement teeth. Most of the time the dentist can prepare the denture prior to the extraction of teeth to be placed immediately after teeth are removed. This is called an immediate denture. If teeth are extracted, it may take several weeks for the gums to heal, so immediate dentures may need to be adjusted or have a soft reline done. After one year, immediate dentures should be replaced with new dentures. Immediate dentures at that time would still be good as a spare in case of any problems with the new dentures.
While some people struggled with dentures years ago, the appliances have improved vastly in comfort and technology in recent years, making the benefits of dentures far outweigh not having them.
How Dentures Work
If a dentist recommends dentures to a patient, the individual can generally expect the following:
- Possible removal of infected, severely decayed, or damaged teeth
- Impressions to be made of the patient’s mouth to tailor the dentures for a better fit
- Selection of the best shape and color for the patient’s artificial teeth, particularly if it is a partial denture
- Modeling and fitting to allow patients to grow accustomed to their new dentures and be more comfortable wearing them
When teeth are absent from the gum, over the years it is not uncommon for the jaw bone to change shape and/or shrink. Since this is to be expected, it is important for patients to make regular visits to their dentist each year for a denture checkup and to have gums checked for possible problems such as signs of oral cancer. In some cases, the jaw bone changes can necessitate a new set of dentures, especially if the original dentures are worn five to ten years or more. Teeth on dentures can wear out over time, and this may require a new set to be made as well.
Benefits of Dentures
Although dentures can be a major lifestyle change, most patients find the benefits of having a full smile make it well worthwhile. Benefits may vary from patient to patient, but most can expect at least some of the following:
- Improved self-confidence
- A more complete smile
- Improved annunciation or speaking
- Increased range of dietary options
- Better support of facial muscles
- The filling in of spaces created by missing teeth that can help deter unwanted tooth movement
In addition to these benefits, patients often find today’s dentures to be comfortable and easy to care for. Depending on a patient’s specific dental insurance, some insurance plans may partially or fully cover denture-related expenses.
Life With Dentures
Life with dentures may take a little getting used to as a patient’s mouth adjusts to them and they become accustomed to putting dentures in and taking them back out. For this reason, it is possible that some patients will experience minor discomfort and soreness in the beginning. However, the majority of patients often experience the below as part of their new journey with dentures:
Possess Increased Confidence
One of the most notable changes in life with dentures can be the level of confidence an individual experiences. The installation of dentures allows patients to confidently smile and interact in ways that many were hesitant to do before. Modern technology allows dentures to be customized to seamlessly resemble a patient’s natural teeth.
With the presence of dentures, many patients find they are able to annunciate more clearly. Speaking may take some practice for individuals as muscles in the tongue and cheeks adjust to the presence of dentures.
Enjoy Eating Again
Many foods that may have been difficult to enjoy before getting dentures, may now work their way back into a patient’s diet again. It is often encouraged for new denture recipients to start small with soft foods and tiny bites until they become more comfortable with eating. Although a patient’s dietary options can increase with the use of dentures, they may still need to exercise caution with sticky or hard foods.
How Long Dentures Last
It is important to note that dentures are not permanent, but how well a patient cares for them can often increase the appliance’s lifespan. The dentist should provide a patient with a complete set of guidelines to care for their dentures, including removing dentures to thoroughly brush and rinse in between meals, and the proper method of keeping them clean.
If you believe you might be a good candidate for dentures, make an appointment today with your Houston dentist and take back your self-confidence and your oral health.