Our teeth have a significant impact on the way we live our life. They influence how we look, how we speak, how we eat, and their absence greatly affects how we perceive ourselves and how others see us.
So if we are missing some or all of our teeth then our quality of life and sense of confidence can be compromised. One alternative to replacing these lost or missing teeth is to have dentures fitted by your dentist.
While dentures are often the target of ridicule in popular culture, the truth is they are an effective replacement for teeth lost to decay, gum disease, or trauma. If you have experienced partial or total tooth loss, it's likely your dentist will talk to you about having dentures fitted.
Dentures are typically made of acrylic and resin, specialist plastics and occasionally lightweight metal and are designed to look like your natural teeth.
There are three main types of dentures:
1. A full denture
Replacing all your natural teeth, these rest on your upper or lower jaws or both, providing support to your face and giving it a natural, more 'filled-in' look.
2. A partial denture
Replacing lost or missing teeth, this is held in place by clasps around your remaining teeth and may have a cobalt-chrome base for added strength.
3. Implant retained denture
An alternative to standard dentures, these replace one or more single teeth and are held in place by implants fixed into the jaw.
Dentures are customised by your dentist or prosthetist to fit your mouth to prevent them from being the cause of bleeding gums, swelling, and ulcers; however, even the best made dentures will feel a little irritating at first as you adjust to how they feel in your mouth. You may need to return to your clinician for minor adjustments.
If you're having teeth removed and need a denture, your dentist may suggest waiting a few months after the teeth have been removed so that your gums can heal and the need for adjustment is minimised. However, if you need a denture immediately after a tooth is removed and it is fitted during the same visit (an ‘immediate’ denture), then more frequent adjustment may be necessary.
Even when your dentures are comfortably in place, it's still important to see your dentist regularly so they can make sure they are fitting you correctly and remain beneficial to your oral health. A yearly check-up, which involves monitoring of cheek, tongue, gums and palate, and screening for oral cancer, is usually all that's required.