When tooth loss is extensive, or when it becomes necessary to replace all of a person’s natural teeth for medical or dental reasons, full dentures are used. This may be the result of extensive tooth decay, periodontal disease, age, or oral trauma. If the natural teeth are not replaced, most patients will begin to experience gum and bone loss.
Dentures today are much more sophisticated than they once were. They are designed to appear very similar to a patient’s natural teeth and are often combined with dental implant technology to make them far more stable. In fact, when placed properly, full dentures combined with dental implants will often be indistinguishable from natural teeth.
Preparing for dentures
During your consultation appointment, our dentist will perform a full examination of your remaining teeth, gums, and the bone structure beneath them. The information gathered during this examination will be used to create a customized treatment plan. In some cases, oral surgery may be required to remove any bone ridges and to ensure the dentures will be as stable as possible. If you have any remaining teeth, these will need to be pulled prior to being fitted for your dentures.
If you do have teeth removed, you will be given a temporary denture to wear while your gums and bone heal well from the extraction. This ensures that you will be able to continue to eat normally during your healing process. This prosthesis will be adjusted as your gums and bone will change and shrink during the six to 12 month healing process.
While your dentist waits for your gums and bone to heal, your permanent dentures will be created in a dental laboratory. For full dentures, you will have an upper and a lower piece in order to replace all of your natural teeth. You may also have full or mini dental implants placed during this time. These implants will help to add stability to the dentures once you receive them. Having dental implants placed may require additional healing time.
Caring for your dentures
Even though your dentures are not natural teeth, you will still need to maintain a daily oral hygiene regimen. Failing to do so could result in fungal infections, periodontal disease, and leukoplakia, a condition that causes thick, white precancerous patches to appear on the mucous membranes inside your mouth.
To brush, you will need to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that has been approved by the American Dental Association. This should be used to clean your tongue, gums, and palate every morning before putting your dentures in and in the evening when you remove them. This ensures that the gums and bone remain properly stimulated, preventing gum and bone loss as well. You will also need to brush your dentures to remove any plaque and food debris before soaking them in a special cleansing solution recommended by our dentist.
Adjusting to Dentures
You will need to visit our office 24 hours after your dentures are placed to ensure that they fit comfortably. While they may feel strange initially, you should tell our dentist of any discomfort that you are experiencing. While some sensitivity in the cheeks, lips, and tongue is normal, persistent irritation or pain should be reported immediately.
You may need some practice before you are able to chew and speak normally again. Begin with smaller pieces of softer foods before gradually working your way up to a normal diet. If you have dental implants, your dentures may feel more natural in the beginning than you expect.
Even with dental implants, your gums and bone structure will change over time. If you begin to feel that your dentures have loosened, or if you begin to experience increased irritation or pain in your mouth, it is important that you contact our office right away. Your dentures can be adjusted or refitted to ensure that you are comfortable. Dentures are not indestructible, so it is likely that they will also need to be replaced every five to seven years.