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Dentures (false teeth) are synthetic replacements for missing natural teeth. Tooth decay, gum disease, and facial injuries can lead to tooth loss.
Some dentures replace a few missing teeth. Others replace all teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues.
Missing teeth can cause facial muscles to sag over time. Dentures are designed to help fill out your facial profile and improve your appearance. They also make it easier to eat, chew, and speak regularly.
The different types of dentures include:
Tooth loss is the main reason people get dentures.
There are a few primary causes of tooth loss:
You're also at a higher risk for tooth loss if you:
There are many different types of dentures available. The type that is best for you depends on your oral health status and lifestyle.
Complete dentures are also called full dentures. They're replacements for entire sets of teeth.
Most dentists will try to save at least some natural teeth before recommending full dentures. But complete dentures are usually necessary if all other options have been exhausted.
These dentures are completely customized and restore the shape and look of natural teeth. They also improve mastication (chewing), but never to the same level as natural teeth. Denture wearers usually only have about one-fourth to one-fifth of the mastication efficiency as those with natural teeth.
Dentures are made of acrylic resin and are only supported by remaining hard and soft tissues. They are not as stable as natural teeth or implants, which are anchored into the bone.
Many people also develop speech impediments with complete dentures. This is due to the thickness of the material covering the palate and neuromuscular control of the tongue and cheeks with the new prosthesis. The acrylic cannot be thinned significantly, as this will cause fractures over time. Some people adapt to it over time, while others don't.
Elderly people are the most common candidates for complete dentures. In rare cases, young patients may also be candidates. This is only the case if they lost all of their teeth from an injury or severe tooth decay.
Fixed partial dentures (FPD) are also called implant-supported bridges. FPD's replace a few missing teeth in a row with two dental implants and a prosthetic tooth or teeth in between. They are permanently glued or screwed into the mouth.
Unlike complete and removable partial false teeth, implant-supported bridges are not removable.
Removable partial dentures (RPD) only replace some missing teeth. An RPD consists of replacement teeth attached to a plastic, gum-colored base.
Some RPDs have a metal framework, including metal clasps that hook onto the adjacent teeth for increased support. They restore the natural look, feel, and function of teeth.
RPDs can be removed at any time and replaced easily. They are commonly recommended for people who aren't good candidates for an implant-supported bridge. This includes people who can't or don't want to undergo surgery.
Implant-retained dentures click into place and latch onto abutments (metal posts). These dentures support more than one tooth and, oftentimes, an entire set of teeth.
They have more stability and chewing function than conventional dentures. However, you must remove them every night to clean them and allow your gum tissues to rest.
After all of your teeth are extracted, you must wait at least 6 to 8 weeks before traditional dentures are placed. This gives your mouth enough time to heal.
Removable immediate dentures are placed directly after your natural teeth are extracted.
Although convenient, immediate dentures are more challenging than traditional dentures because they are not molded to your gums. They also don't look as natural and require more upkeep.
Men and women with significant tooth loss are candidates for dentures. False teeth are not dependent on age, but more so on the condition of your teeth.
It's also important to have enough jawbone structure and healthy gum tissue remaining. False teeth need a sufficient amount of support from natural tissue to remain in place for a long time.
The most common age group with false teeth is people 65 and older.
Dental plaque buildup on false teeth can lead to bone loss, bad breath, and stomatitis (inflammation of the soft tissue lining inside the mouth).
Another risk factor of poorly kept dentures is a fungal infection called oral thrush.
To prevent these conditions, practice proper denture care:
False teeth become discolored over time (just like natural teeth). If your dentures chip or crack, they might only need a minor repair. If they break, you'll need to replace them quickly.
Here are some tips for adjusting to new dentures:
Your dentist or prosthodontist will provide you with aftercare instructions. Make sure you follow them carefully to ensure proper healing and comfort.
If you have removable dentures, refrain from removing them too often. It's essential to wear them throughout the day to get used to them quickly.
"Regardless of the type of denture you choose with your dentist, keep in mind that any new prosthesis will take time to adjust to. Just like it takes your body time to get used to a new pair of eyeglasses or shoes, your mouth will need time to get used to your new prosthesis," says Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists. "Be patient and always follow up with your dentist with any questions or concerns. They are there to help."
For the first few days post-op, only eat soft foods to prevent additional discomfort.
According to Dr. Aggarwal, once you are more comfortable, you can cut up harder foods into small pieces and eat them on both sides towards the back. Never bite into an apple or a granola bar with your dentures, as it can cause them to dislodge.
Practice speaking out loud to exercise your facial muscles and prevent any unwanted speech issues. Singing can also help you form words correctly.
Brush your dentures and gums regularly to prevent bacteria buildup and bad breath.
A denture adhesive can be used to soothe any irritation.
If you notice that your dentures aren't fitting properly, set up an appointment with your dentist. Adhesives can't fix poorly-fitted dentures, says Dr. Aggarwal, and shouldn't be used as a crutch.
Most full dental insurance policies cover at least some of the cost of dentures.
According to Carefree Dental, the cost depends on the chosen type and individual insurance coverage policies:
|Complete denture||$1,300-$3,000 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Temporary (immediate) denture||$1,500-$3,200 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Partial removable denture||$650-$2,500 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Implant-retained denture (overdenture)||$1,500-$4,000 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Snap-in denture||$1,500-$4,000 (upper or lower, not both)|
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about dentures. All of these answers have been written or reviewed by Dr. Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists.
Partial dentures cost $650 to $2,500 for an upper or lower denture, not both.
Medicare doesn't cover dentures or other dental devices like partial plates. Medicare Advantage plans sold through private insurance companies may provide coverage for dentures and other dental care.
Dentures are usually made of acrylic, metal, nylon, and/or plastic.
Dr. Aggarwal says dentures should be cleaned with a liquid soap without microbeads, not toothpaste. They are very abrasive and can scratch dentures.
Gently brush the dentures with a soft denture brush to remove plaque. Soak them in a commercial denture cleanser liquid overnight.
In the morning, brush them again before you insert them. They can be soaked overnight in white vinegar diluted with water to remove calculus. Full-strength vinegar is too acidic and can damage teeth from acid erosion.
According to Dr. Aggarwal, implants can be used for a variety of dentures, including implant-retained or supported prostheses.
Most dentures can be worn throughout the day but should be removed at night, says Dr. Aggarwal.
Yes, you can eat with dentures in your mouth. It may be difficult to eat at first but you'll get used to them over time.
Dr. Aggarwal says it is always better to cut up harder foods and chew them on both sides of the back of your mouth, rather than biting into an apple or granola bar with your front teeth.
Dentures can change the way you speak at first. Your voice might also sound different (but only to you). This is because the sound travels to your ears through vibrations in the skull and jaw. Dentures increase this sound, but only you will notice the change.
Dentures change the appearance of your smile. If you had many missing teeth, especially in the front, dentures will improve your self-confidence.
Your face might have a sunken appearance after you lose teeth, says Dr. Aggarwal. Conventional dentures can provide lip and cheek support so your face has a more full appearance.
You'll go back in to get your permanent dentures once your mouth fully heals, says Dr. Aggarwal.
If your dentures don't fit properly, you can use denture adhesive to keep them in place temporarily.
After you adjust to your new dentures, visit your dentist at least twice a year for routine check-ups. This is the same for patients who don't have dentures.
Your dentures may feel bulky and uncomfortable at first. This is normal and will get better over time as you adjust.
Many people experience speaking, chewing, and eating difficulties during the first few weeks.
Extra saliva flow is also common.