Dentures are prosthetic teeth worn by those who have lost their
natural teeth through injury or illness. There are many different types of
dentures designed to address a variety of dental situations. Dentures may be
removable or fixed through the use of implants,
and they may replace either upper or lower teeth.
Dentures have been used in some form since at least the 15th century, though they have greatly improved in design since then. Early dentures were made of wood, bone, ivory, or human teeth and, like natural teeth, could rot with extended use. They were attached to existing teeth with metal or silk string and could be quite uncomfortable. The first porcelain dentures were constructed in the 1770s, and plastics became the material of choice in the 20th century.
Those who have lost their teeth find both functional and aesthetic benefits from dentures. Well-made dentures allow the wearer to enjoy all kinds of food, whereas missing teeth or poor dentures significantly restrict chewing ability. Dentures also support the lips and cheeks, improving the appearance of a patient who has lost his or her natural teeth.
Dentures are custom designed to fit each patient's mouth, and skill and patience are required to achieve both fit and function. Poorly made dentures can cause significant discomfort and erode the gums and bones of the jaw, leading to greater dental problems. A combination of implants and removable dentures may be the best option in cases where either the extent of tissue loss is significant, or the arch shape prevents a snug fit.
Dentists “do” dentures and everything necessary to plan, fit, adjust and care for your complete or partial denture and dentures with implants. Before anyone else makes you a denture, the law requires that a dentist or medical doctor (on fully edentulous patients) must perform an oral examination and sign a certificate of oral health. Dentists are the only health professionals uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat the gums and surrounding tissues, as well as check for oral cancer.
We all know denture wearers that have no problems and are happy with their dentures. It would be nice to be able to promise this outcome to everyone. However, every patient is different. Many mouths do not have the potential for a well-functioning denture. The longer one has been without teeth the less potential there is.
Research and experience have shown that a patient’s ability to adapt to the challenges associated with wearing dentures can be as important, or even more important, than how well the dentures fit. Knowing this, and the circumstances of your specific case, can be helpful in persevering and learning to function happily with your new dentures.
Dental implants can be thought of as a replacement for the lost roots of a tooth or teeth, even though they behave a little differently than teeth. Implants are fused to the bone which is what provides their stability, whereas teeth are held in the bone by a soft tissue sling and therefore can move slightly, or even more so when this attachment is not healthy. If implants move, they are no longer successful or stable. Implants can successfully provide a means of holding a denture in place to improve your function and comfort. They may remove many of the challenges associated with wearing dentures by providing the best fitting and functioning dentures available to you.
Whether you’re considering dentures for the first time or replacing dentures you have had for years, creating dentures that fit properly and work well begins with a denture examination.
First, it’s important to know if you actually need dentures. Advances in dentistry mean there may now be options that didn’t exist in the past, when dentures might have seemed like the only choice. All of your options will be explored before you and your dentist decide on the treatment plan that is right for you.
If you already wear dentures and need new ones, you will still have a full denture examination before replacements can be made. This is to ensure that your dentist is aware of any changes that have occurred since your last ones were created and to ensure that any health concerns that have arisen can be managed.
A panoramic X-ray will show all the mineral dense areas, such as bones and teeth. Along with a clinical exam, the X-ray may uncover hidden problems and allow for a proper diagnosis.