Natural teeth can be lost due to decay, periodontal disease (gum disease) and injury. Along with the lost teeth, the bone supporting the missing teeth will be resorbed (shrinks). This loss is an ongoing process and may result in changes to the shape of your face. In addition speech and mastication are compromised.
Therefore when we fabricate dentures (also known as a prosthesis), we replace the missing teeth to restore aesthetics, speech, mastication and also provide support to the facial soft tissues. Indeed the denture will have teeth and a pink area, commonly referred to as the gum. The latter’s thickness will therefore vary, depending on the amount of bone resorption.
Dentures can be either complete or partial. Partial dentures are used to replace only a few teeth and attach to nearby teeth. There are various types of complete dentures. They can be fabricated in acrylic or metal.
A conventional full denture is made and placed in the patient’s mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed which may take several months.
An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes preliminary records over a number of visits prior to removing the teeth. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. At this stage the patient should expect some bone shrinkage and the denture may become loose. This is easily rectified by adjusting the denture when required, normally with a soft liner material (like a cushion).
Dentures will need regular maintenance. Since bone shrinkage is continuous you will need to refit the denture every few years. Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. The denture needs to be cleaned well every day to prevent infection and you should still be seen yearly to check the health of the oral soft tissues.
Sometimes due to the amount of bone loss, we cannot provide the patient with stable and retentive dentures. In these situations, we can provide the necessary support and retention with dental implants.
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Mrs. L. attended the unit in February 2006. She was extremely unhappy with her complete dentures, which she has been wearing for two years.