Complete dentures are worn to replace all your natural teeth (either top or bottom or both). They are usually made from lifelike resin teeth bonded onto an acrylic (plastic) base. Dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth and coloured to look as natural as possible. In upper dentures, the acrylic covers your gums and most of your hard palate. In lower dentures, the acrylic covers the gum ridge down to where it makes way for soft tissue.
Dentures are often made to mimic the appearance of your own natural teeth. However, denture teeth can be made whiter, straighter and longer. Gaps can be removed (or added as desired). It really depends on the wearer. In our experience we have found that most people prefer to look natural – they don’t want it to be obvious that they are wearing dentures.
In practical terms, while the appearance of the denture is important, the fit and function is critical to its success. It is normal for new dentures to feel strange at first. You may even find that your speech sounds a little strange and things taste a little different. Like anything new, dentures take time to get used to, but you will soon find yourself speaking like you usually do. New dentures can rub against your gum ridge and cause ulceration and inflammation. Your dentist can readily adjust the denture and make it more comfortable.
It is common for new dentures to require a reline (adjustment), especially if these are your first dentures and you have recently had any remaining teeth extracted. The bone that normally supports our natural teeth will naturally reduce in size and shape once these teeth are removed. This bone forms the ridge that your dentures rest upon, so changes in this bone will affect the fit and comfort of the denture. Relines should be anticipated around 3 months after the initial placement of your new denture in order that the denture continues to fit and function well, and feels comfortable to wear.
Losing or gaining weight also changes the shape of our mouths. Seeing your dentist at least once a year will ensure that any concerns with your mouth and/or dentures can be resolved before they become problematic. Contrary to popular belief, dentures are not the end of your dental responsibilities. Regular dental checkups will improve the functionality and fit of your denture, as well as provide ongoing care for your gums, tongue and other oral tissues.
Dentures need to be cared for. Remove them after each meal and clean them thoroughly with a soft toothbrush/denture brush and warm soapy water. Don’t use toothpaste or any other abrasive cleaners as this scratches the acrylic and leads to staining and bacteria growth. At night, leave them out and store them in a glass of water with a teaspoon of common household bleach, or a commercially-made denture soak. This deodorises them and kills the bacteria that is growing on them. Leaving them out at night gives the soft tissues of your mouth a chance to ‘breathe’. Failing to do this can result in an uncomfortable (usually) fungal infection of the soft tissues, commonly known as ‘denture mouth’.
Partial Dentures and Implant Retained Dentures
A partial denture (plate) is a good option if you have multiple missing teeth, but the rest of your natural teeth are still in good condition and you do not want to have a full denture. Partial dentures are made from a combination of acrylic (plastic) and chrome cobalt metal. They are retained by clasps that clip around some of your remaining natural teeth.
Initially, they can feel quite unnatural, but after 2 or 3 weeks the wearer becomes more accustomed to them. Mild changes in your speech patterns may be an initial side effect, but again, this reduces as you become used to the partial denture.
If you choose a partial denture, it is essential to maintain the remaining natural teeth. Oral hygiene is essential. Plaque and food becomes trapped more easily, leading to gum disease and tooth decay around the remaining natural teeth. The partial denture will also place additional stress on remaining natural teeth, as it uses these to support it. Healthy natural teeth will not only prolong the life of these teeth, but also on the partial denture. If you lose a tooth that the partial denture relied upon for stability and function, you will have to adjust, or even replace the denture.
Wherever possible, a partial denture is the preferred option (as opposed to a full denture) for the lower arch as a full lower denture is much harder to retain in the mouth. For those people who lead a highly active lifestyle, or have difficulty in keeping their dentures in, implant retained dentures could be a great option. This kind of denture is supported by and attached to implants in the jaw bone. The most common of these is the ball-retained denture. Each implant in the jawbone holds a ball-shaped metal attachment (‘male’ attachments) thats fits into a socket on the denture (‘female’ attachments). The wearer simply clips the partial denture in place!
If you would like to arrange a consultation, or simply wish to know more about our dental clinic services in Ashburton, please Contact Us.