A denture, or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth that replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips.
Dentures are beneficial in multiple ways:
- Mastication – chewing ability is improved by replacing missing teeth with dentures.
- Aesthetics – dentures not only restore a natural and attractive appearance to the teeth, but can also correct the collapsed exterior of lips and cheeks that occurs after losing teeth.
- Confidence – a healthy and beautiful-looking smile will help the patient feel more confident and attractive.
- Phonetics – by replacing missing teeth, patients will be able to better pronounce certain words that require the use of teeth to speak.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated at different times. A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed. An immediate denture is fabricated prior to extractions and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted . This protects the tissues under the denture during the healing process..
A denture base is made of flesh-colored high impact acrylic. An upper denture covers the palate (roof of the mouth) and a lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue. The denture teeth are made of an interpenetrating polymer network that makes them durable and life-like. This polymer network allows the denture teeth to mimic the gradual wear of tooth enamel.
Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically-treated tooth roots. Attachments can be cemented to the roots to assist with the stability of lower dentures. If no natural tooth roots remain, a complete lower denture should be attached to a minimum of two dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the prosthesis.
An upper denture is relatively straightforward to manufacture so it is stable without slippage. The lower full denture is typically more complex because there is no “suction” holding it in place like with the upper denture. For this reason, there is a general consensus that a lower full denture should be supported by two to four implants placed in the lower jaw. A lower denture supported by implants is a far more secure prosthesis than one without implants. Without implants, the denture is only held in place with weak lower mouth muscles. With a lower denture secured with implants, the patients should be able to bite into an apple. Without implants, it will be difficult or impossible to do so.
Over a normal course of time, dentures will wear and will need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the correct jaw alignment. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges continue to recede or shrink after extraction of the teeth. Annual dental examinations are important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be examined for disease or change and the dentures can be evaluated and professionally cleaned and sanitized.
A natural, beautiful, comfortable and functional outcome that exudes confidence!