New Dentures: What to Expect, Things to Consider, and FAQs

Dentures

Experience the comfort and confidence quality dentures provide.

denturesYour New Dentures

Making your new dentures is a technical and artistic endeavor.  Keep in mind that your gums and jawbone were not intended to support a plastic replacement.  Dentures are an artificial replacement for living healthy teeth supported by a special type of bone. Once the teeth are gone, the denture pressure causes that bone to shrink away. The rate of attrition (shrinkage) has been measured and typical shrinkage is about 3 to 5% per year until the basal bone is reached. As a denture wearer gets older, the bone continues to melts away and it becomes increasingly more difficult to wear dentures. When that happens, the jaw ridge flattens out and there is little left to support a denture.

Dentures are not a panacea for dental problems. Ultimately, the denture wearer has problems keeping dentures in place securely. Our job is to make the dentures technically correct and to please your esthetic requirements.  After all, you have to wear the dentures and be pleased with their appearance. Once you are happy with the esthetics, the dentures are processed.

The fit and bite relationship is carefully checked and appropriate adjustments are made.  As with any new prosthesis, additional adjustments may be necessary until you are comfortable.

Once the teeth are gone, the part of the jaw that held the teeth in place starts to disappear. When a denture is putting pressure (biting, chewing, clenching and grinding) on the ridge, it squeezes the gum between the hard plastic and the bone and it disrupts the blood supply (blood supply provides nutrients for the bone cells). As you can see from the relative size of the jaw bones the change is very significant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between conventional dentures and immediate dentures?

A: Conventional dentures are made for patients that have had their teeth removed a long time ago and are fully healed. An immediate denture is a prosthesis that is inserted at the time the persons’ teeth are removed. To avoid going toothless, this interim denture is made and placed in the mouth with a soft bandage type lining. Over a period of approximately three months the gum heals and the initial bone shrinkage slows down. At that time a more permanent denture is made or the “immediate” is relined to fit the gums better. Typically a denture needs relining every three to five years and typically last 10 to 15 years. When the teeth wear down, the space between the upper and lower jaw is decreased allowing the jaws to come together more closely. This gives many patients the “denture look”.

Q: I'm concerned with the look of dentures, have they improved over the years?

A: The cosmetics of dentures have improved greatly. To such a point where it is virtually impossible to tell the replacement teeth from natural teeth. The denture teeth are made of special types of very strong layered composite materials that have light reflective and wear characteristics similar to natural teeth. In the past denture teeth were made of plastic or porcelain, both of which are problematic. The plastic teeth would discolor and wear very quickly. The porcelain teeth would break, chip and come out of the denture quite easily. Naturally, you can have the very best of materials available but the real determiner is the artistic ability of the prosthodontist and the technician. Without their skill and artistry it’s just a piece of plastic.

Q: How long do cosmetic dentures take to make?

A: Art requires time. Typically there are at least 5 appointments before the dentures are completed and ready for insertion. That translates into 5 to 6 weeks. I have a very skilled artist technician of the old school that makes my dentures. Not too many around like that anymore as it is rapidly becoming a lost art form in our rushed society. He is slow but skillful and a perfectionist.

Q: What are the alternatives to cosmetic dentures?

A: Alternatives are to keep your natural teeth in a healthy state. If you do loose some or all of your teeth then the real answer lies with dental implants. Implant restorations can be made just as cosmetically as regular dentures. So it’s really a matter of the difference between the denture and the alternative prosthesis as to function. If you want a prosthesis that does not move around, lets you eat all the foods you were able to chew and eat with your natural teeth, gives you the confidence that you can sing, laugh, make a speech and kiss with passion and vigor without the chance of embarrassment, then have an implant retained and supported prosthesis. Even those folks with little or no bone left can have implanted retained prosthesis that is comfortable and very functional. Implants provide the retention needed for a supported prosthesis such as a Bone anchored Bridge (BAB) or Teeth In a Day solutions.

 

Considerations

Dentures are tolerated. As the bone shrinks away, localized areas of bone that receive more pressure than the other areas results in a “sore” – (pressure spot). Hence you move from spot to spot never quite having total comfort. Yes, dentures are frequently painful especially for those that have very tender gums and have a low threshold of pain.

Another problem that arises for those that have worn dentures for a while is that as the bone shrinks the dentures settle lower and lower onto the jaw bone creating not only pressure spots but progressively resulting in the loss of the lower part of the face creating the classic denture look. The chin and nose come closer and closer together and soon it looks like they are totally “pooched” together. It ages a person prematurely and the esthetic symmetry of the face is completely distorted. A very good reason to keep your natural teeth.

As you can tell, dentures are not a panacea to dental problems. It distresses me when I hear people say that dentists don’t want people to have dentures because once the teeth are gone they can’t charge anymore money for fixing them and therefore it’s strictly a selfish economic decision. Just think about it, if you want something floating around in your mouth that can come loose when you least expect it, allows food to get under them so that it causes discomfort, settles into the jaw bone and makes your face disappear, limits what you eat, can result in denture breath, mess up your love life, and requires adhesive to stay in place well then dentures may be the answer for you.

Dentures are often a last resort because the person has let their dental health deteriorate to a degree that retaining and restoring the teeth is impossible due to financial constraints. Dentures are not an inexpensive alternative when you look at the long term effects. They need to be relined every 3 to 5 years. New ones made every 10 to 15 years and the stability, function and comfort decreases as you wear them. If you ignore all of the factors related to dentures, then it gets even worse with time. However some people can adapt to almost everything such as chronic pressure spots, the insecurity and a 300% reduction in the ability to chew your food. For those who already have lost their teeth due to disease or accident, seek out the best treatment choice possible for your denture treatment. See a specialist. The results can be optimized even under the most difficult circumstances.

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Taking Care Of Your Dentures

dentalartNaturally there are solutions to some of these issues. If the dentures are relined so they fit correctly or are replaced at appropriate times to maintain you facial support they can be better tolerated. By having frequent relines to insure proper fit, there is less bone shrinkage and greater comfort. If you don’t have the dentures refitted (relined) periodically when they get loose, then you will rely on adhesive. As stated the bone shrinks and it is more difficult to wear dentures as time passes. When that happens, people often rely upon denture adhesive to keep the dentures from moving or coming completely loose when the person chews, smiles, laughs or coughs. It essentially is security glue that keeps the dentures in place. The worse the fit, the more adhesive is used. The down side is that you swallow the material and it is not very healthy. Recently there have been implications that the zinc in the adhesive can cause neurological symptoms. Sometimes the anatomy of the person’s mouth makes it virtually impossible to get a good fit. When the person has a flat palate, no jaw ridge, a very shallow vestibule (the connection between the ridge and the cheek and lips), no saliva, an irregular ridge form, or lots of mobile loose gum over the bone, it’s very difficult to have an optimal result when it comes to retention and stability. Regardless of what the prosthodontist does, the lower still floats or the upper breaks the suction seal and comes loose. When that happens then you have to use adhesive or have dental implants placed for anchorage.

Read more about proper denture care.

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