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Dentures (false teeth) are synthetic replacements for missing natural teeth. Some dentures are designed to replace a few missing teeth. Other types of dentures replace all of your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues.
Tooth decay, gum disease, and facial injuries can lead to tooth loss. Depending on how many teeth are lost, dentures may be necessary.
When teeth are missing, facial muscles can 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.
Common types of dentures include:
Tooth loss is the main reason people get dentures. There are a few primary causes of tooth loss, including:
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 the patient's teeth.
It is also important for a patient to have enough jawbone structure and healthy gum tissue remaining. This is because false teeth need a sufficient amount of support from natural tissue to remain in place for a long period of time.
The most common age group that has false teeth are people over 65 years of age. Needing dentures over age 40 is also fairly common, especially in women.
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Nineteen percent of women over 40 are denture wearers. Twenty-seven percent of seniors over 65 have no remaining teeth.
There are many different types of dentures available. They type of denture that is best for you depends on the condition of your oral health and your lifestyle. The most common types of false teeth include:
Complete dentures, also known as full dentures, are removable replacements for a patient’s entire set of teeth. They are completely customized and restore the shape and look of natural teeth. These conventional dentures also improve mastication, which means the patient can crush, grind, and eat food normally again.
If your chewing functions were normal before denture placement, the functions will be much less than with natural teeth or implants. The lack of anchorage in the bone means you are not able to produce as much chewing force.
Many patients also develop speech impediments, such as a lisp, with complete dentures. This is due to the thickness of the material covering the palate (which is necessary and cannot be thinned). Some people adapt to it over time, while others do not.
Complete dentures are the last option for a patient after all other tooth restoration options are ineffective. False teeth do not prevent bone shrinkage, and sometimes, poorly fitting teeth can contribute to it. Only a dental implant will preserve the bone and prevent it from shrinking after tooth loss.
Candidates for complete dentures include:
Fixed partial dentures (FPD), also called implant-supported bridges, use existing teeth as abutments. Abutments refer to the surrounding teeth that serve as the main support for the denture. FPD's replace a few missing teeth in a row with two dental implants.
Unlike complete and removable partial false teeth, implant-supported bridges are not removable. These permanent dentures restore one or more missing teeth in a row when strong natural teeth are present on both sides of the missing ones.
Advantages of fixed partial dentures:
Disadvantages of fixed partial dentures:
Unlike complete dentures that replace all teeth, removable partial dentures (RPD) only replace some missing teeth. An RPD consists of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base.
Removable partial dentures are built onto a cast metal framework for strength. They restore the natural look, feel, and function of your teeth.
RPD’s can be removed at any time and replaced easily. They are most commonly recommended for patients who cannot get a dental bridge (implant-supported bridge).
There are two types of removable partial dentures available, including:
Implant-retained dentures, also called overdentures, do not permanently attach to dental implants. They click into place and latch onto the abutments (metal posts). Implant dentures support more than one tooth and, oftentimes, an entire set of teeth.
Implant-retained dentures increase stability and improve chewing function better than traditional dentures. However, you must remove them every night for cleaning and tissue rest.
Types of implant retained dentures:
Benefits of implant-retained dentures:
In traditional dentures, after all of a patient’s teeth are extracted, they must wait at least 6 to 8 weeks before false teeth are placed. This gives the extraction site and jawbone enough time to heal.
Removable immediate dentures can be used directly after your natural teeth are extracted. Although convenient, immediate dentures are more challenging than traditional dentures because they are not molded specifically to the gums.
Types of immediate dentures include:
Properly taking care of your false teeth ensures your gums, jawbone, and artificial teeth stay healthy long-term.
Dental plaque buildup on false teeth can lead to bone loss, bad breath, and stomatitis (inflammation of the soft tissue lining inside of the mouth). Another risk factor of uncleaned dentures is a fungal infection called “oral thrush.”
To prevent these conditions, it is essential to practice proper denture care.
General dentists make dentures. They also offer preventive and restorative services, such as x-rays, teeth cleanings, cavity fillings, and sealants.
Unlike specialists, who focus on one specific area of dentistry, general dentists offer a wide range of treatment and procedures for people of all ages.
Prosthodontists are the main providers of dentures. They specialize in many different tooth replacement procedures.
Most full dental insurance policies cover up to 50 percent of the cost of dentures. According to Carefree Dental, the cost depends on the chosen type and individual insurance coverage policies:
|Complete Dentures||$1275-$2750 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Complete Immediate Dentures||$1475-$3150 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Partial Removable Dentures||$650-$2500 (upper or lower, not both)|
|Implant-Retained Dentures||$1500-$4000 (upper or lower, not both)|
Complete Dentures: $1275-$2750 each (upper or lower)
Complete Immediate Dentures: $1475-$3150 each (upper or lower)
Partial Removable Dentures: $650-$2500 each (upper or lower)
Implant-Retained Dentures: $1500-$4000 each (upper or lower)
$650-$2500 for each upper denture and lower denture
No, Medicare does not cover dentures or other dental devices, such as partial plates. Generally, Medicare does provide dental coverage. Medicare Advantage plans sold through private insurance companies may provide coverage for dentures and other dental health care.
Dentures are usually made of acrylic, metal, nylon, and/or plastic.
At night, 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 or to prevent the formation of calculus. Full strength vinegar is acidic and can damage the surface of the teeth, causing acid erosion.
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Hollins, Carole. Basic Guide to Dental Procedures. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.
Rangarajan, V., and T. V. Padmanabhan. Textbook of Prosthodontics- E-Book. Elsevier India, 2017.
Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.
“Tooth Loss in Seniors.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/tooth-loss/seniors.
“Upper Denture Savings.” Carefree Dental, www.carefreedental.com/procedures/complete-upper-denture.