Not Your Grandparent’s Dentures

You remember all the unhappy stories about dentures—how people who wore them never enjoyed their food anymore, had difficulty biting into apples, and kept them in a glass on the night stand. You may be worried, especially if you think dentures are in your future, too.

“Those days are not that long ago, but in the last decade, dental science has made giantphoenix_cosmetic_dentist advances in replacing teeth,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix office.

While dentures are still in wide use, there have been great improvements in comfort and function when replacing teeth through dentures, bridges, and implants.

Removable dentures generally consist of ceramic teeth attached to a gum-colored acrylic base. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. Partial dentures use metal clamps that connect  the denture to any remaining teeth.

Dentures come in two types, according to the American Dental Association: conventional and immediate. Conventional dentures are made after the teeth are removed, and placed in the mouth about a month later. Immediate dentures are based on measurements taken before the teeth are removed. On the day the last teeth are extracted, the immediate denture is fitted, allowing for use as soon as the patient leaves the dental office.

“Every type of denture takes some getting used to,” says Dr. Ford. “The choice of denture is an important decision for both the patient and the dentist. There are pros and cons for all the choices, and I would expect to have a detailed discussion about the patient’s lifestyle and preferences.”

Sometimes implants are recommended to improve the security of the denture in the mouth. This is a practical, esthetic, and long-lasting alternative to conventional dentures.

“Four implants on the top jaw and four implants on the bottom hold permanent dentures that often look better and brighter than the original teeth,” says Dr. Ford.

This type of implant denture is called an “all-on-four” and provides an excellent quality of life. “Dentures often cover the roof of the mouth,” says Dr. Ford. “And there are taste buds on the roof of your mouth as well as on your tongue. A plastic plate across those taste buds makes it harder for you to taste and enjoy your food.”  Implants don’t create that problem.

The implant process can take several months to complete. After your teeth are extracted, the gums and bone may be given time to heal. Then the dental surgeon implants metal posts that act as roots to stabilize the tooth portion of the implant. Again, these take time to heal. Once healed, a denture can be fixed to the implants.

Dental implants require the same kind of care your natural teeth do—brushing and flossing. And you’ll need to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning. “But you will experience a wonderful fit and feel with implants,” says Dr. Ford. “You can have the bright smile you’ve always wanted.”

 


 

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