Tooth loss is more common than you might think. In the United States, around 120 million people are missing teeth. Approximately 40 million of them wear dentures. The reasons for tooth loss can include decay, gum disease, injury, or simply deterioration over time.
Regardless of the cause, tooth loss is not something you have to live with. McDonogh Dental can help determine what type of dentures are the best solution for you.
What are dentures?
Dentures are custom-made prosthetic replacements for missing natural teeth. The earliest evidence of human teeth being replaced with false teeth was around 2500 BC. Thankfully, advancements in dental technology have given us far better replacements than dentures made from wooden teeth and animal teeth.
Today’s dentures are often indistinguishable from the natural teeth in your smile. There are many types of dentures to choose from. Some patients will need complete dentures, while others may only need partial dentures.
What are dentures made of?
Denture teeth are most often made of acrylic resin or porcelain, and they are attached to a plastic or metal framework that holds them in place in your mouth. Sometimes dental implants are used to hold the dentures permanently in place. Other times, the dentures will be removable because other teeth support them.
Your dentures will probably be made of some combination of dental-grade plastic and metal. Nevertheless, rest assured this technology has stood the test of time.
Acrylic Resin Teeth
Most dentures made today are acrylic resin. They are far more affordable and less prone to breakage than other denture materials like porcelain dentures. They are also lightweight and comfortable for most patients. However, they can wear down faster than porcelain, so more frequent replacement could be necessary.
Acrylic may be the most commonly used material, but some patients still prefer porcelain. Porcelain is often less noticeable in the mouth because it looks so similar to natural human teeth. However, they are more expensive than acrylic dentures and break easier.
Partial Dentures vs. Full Dentures
Most denture types fall into one of two categories: full and partial. Full dentures are prosthetic replacements for all teeth in the upper or lower jaw, while partial dentures are replacements for only a few missing teeth and are combined with existing teeth.
A complete set of dentures can be more expensive than partial dentures. However, a full set of dentures can also be more comfortable because it isn’t attached to any remaining teeth.
Why should you get dentures?
Hesitation about investing in dentures is understandable. It could be tempting to avoid the process to save money. What if you are only missing one or two teeth that aren’t highly visible in your smile? Are there still damaging consequences to consider?
Yes. If you decide not to wear dentures, there can be negative consequences for your oral health and quality of life. Here are a few consequences that may not be immediately clear when you envision your life after tooth loss:
When our permanent teeth come in, we tend to think of them in a fully fixed position. However, tooth position does change slightly over time. Losing even just one tooth can cause others to shift into the gap, which can impact your bite.
If teeth shift enough, it can cause misalignment in your bite. When your natural teeth come together in areas that were not designed to meet, they can begin to degrade over time. You could also start to feel headaches and have jaw pain from a misaligned bite.
Additional Tooth Loss
If you lose one tooth, you are at greater risk for additional tooth loss. Even with perfect oral hygiene, you cannot erase the effects of an open socket. A missing tooth leaves more room for bacteria to approach surrounding teeth under the gum line, where it can cause damage. Combined with excessive wear caused by misalignment, tooth decay can escalate rapidly.
Our jaw is designed to have consistent stimulation from the pressure in our bite and from chewing food. Tooth extraction without replacement takes away that pressure. A gap in your bite can affect not only the bones surrounding the open socket but also any teeth that would usually meet the original tooth in your bite.
How are dentures made?
Dentures are made in a lab, but you will be fit for them in the comfort of your regular dentist’s office. The dentist will create models of your mouth and send them to a lab.
The lab will give the materials to a technician trained in making custom dentures. The technician will follow a step-by-step process to build the perfect set of dentures for your mouth.
After the dentures are made and returned to your dentist, you will return for fittings. They will check you for correct occlusion to get the ideal bite. You also want your full or partial plate to fit snugly around your natural gums.
It will probably require about three or four visits to your dentist for denture fittings before you wear them home. Since every mouth is different, it’s essential to get the fit just right so you can wear them comfortably.
Caring for Your Dentures
Once you start wearing your dentures, it is essential to take proper care of them to maximize their life. Just like your natural teeth, they can get food stuck in them and degrade if not cared for properly.
You will be given care instructions, but here are some tips for caring for your dentures:
- Remove your dentures while brushing your remaining teeth. Brushing over the gum will help eliminate bacteria that may have become trapped there by the denture.
- Don’t forget about cleaning your dentures! Ideally, it is best to use denture toothpaste with a soft bristle toothbrush.
- Soak your dentures overnight. Sleeping with them in place can lead to harmful bacteria or fungal growth. Don’t soak them in hot water.
- Denture adhesives usually aren’t necessary because the denture base is designed for the acrylic to adhere to your gums.
Remember Your Regular Dental Check-Ups
You should keep coming to McDonogh Dental for regular check-ups, no matter what type of denture you have. It is always best to keep as many of your remaining natural teeth as possible, and it is vital to check for necessary adjustments over time.
Contact us if you have any questions about dentures. We can also help you determine expected insurance coverage and costs.