The materials and techniques used to craft dentures has advanced significantly in the past few decades. Bulky, ill-fitting dentures that irritated the gums and soft tissues of the mouth have been replaced with lightweight, lifelike prosthetics. Modern dentures are better looking than ever, and can restore normal appearance and normal oral function to those facing tooth loss.
If you have lost some or all of your teeth, Dr. Kennedy of Turnagain Dental can help you navigate your denture options. He understands the struggle and embarrassment of missing teeth, and he is committed to helping you quickly find the best match for your needs. Your dentures will be designed to your exact specifications so they fit the unique contours of your mouth and complement your natural appearance.
Partial vs. Complete Dentures
Dentures are crafted from artificial teeth affixed to a pink plastic base that resembles gum tissue. Complete dentures replace all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw, whereas partial dentures replace some of the teeth in the jaw. Certain types of partial dentures have a metal framework with small clasps that hug the surrounding natural teeth to keep the prosthetic in place. The metal framework is very thin, but depending on where the clasps are, they may be visible in the smile. Other partials have a plastic framework that is thicker but more flexible and less noticeable in the mouth. Dr. Kennedy can help you select the right type of denture for your needs.
Designing and Placing Dentures, Step by Step
The first thing Dr. Kennedy does when designing dentures is to take impressions of the mouth to create molds or models. Once he has a model of the upper and lower jaw, he takes a bite to determine how the patient bites together (i.e., how the upper and lower jaw meet). This information is sent to the laboratory that constructs the partial or complete set of dentures.
Dr. Kennedy selects the color, shape and size of the artificial teeth of the denture; in the case of a partial denture, the teeth should be crafted to resemble the remaining natural teeth.
Once the partial or complete denture is ready, the patient tries it on in the mouth. Dr. Kennedy checks its fit and the patient’s bite to ensure the upper and lower jaws meet together properly.
There is usually a slight adjustment period as patients acclimate to wearing dentures. Generally, within a few weeks the dentures start to feel more comfortable and secure in the mouth.
Dr. Kennedy provides complete instructions for cleaning and caring for the dentures. He may recommend special cleaning products to keep the appliances in optimal condition. Dr. Kennedy should also check the dentures periodically to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly.
Some patients opt to secure their dentures with dental implants for enhanced stability and comfort. The process of placing implant-fixed dentures generally takes a few months to surgically place the implants, allow them to heal and then attach a custom denture. Several posts are placed in the jawbone and the denture appliance attaches to the tops of the posts. Once in place, the dentures can only be removed by a dentist.
Adjusting to Life with Dentures
At first, the dentures may feel unusual in the mouth. You may experience some soreness or irritation but this should subside quickly once the cheeks, lips and tongue acclimate to the dentures. If soreness and discomfort persist for more than four weeks, let your dentist know so they can make adjustments to the dentures, if necessary.
Chewing may be a little uncomfortable at the beginning, so it is recommended that you eat mostly small bites of soft foods at first. Remember to chew the foods on both sides of the mouth simultaneously. Once you feel comfortable enough, switch to eating larger pieces of soft foods and then finally to normal foods.
Speaking with your dentures may also be challenging at first. Most patients feel fully comfortable speaking within two weeks of wearing their dentures. Reading aloud can help you restore normal speech faster.
One concern that many denture wearers have is whether their replacement teeth will shift around in the mouth or fall out. But as long as you work with an experienced and skilled dentist, this shouldn’t be a problem. Modern-day denture appliances are customized to each patient’s unique specifications and should sit securely in the mouth without an adhesive. Lower dentures typically fit slightly looser than upper dentures. With practice, denture wearers can learn to use the muscles of the tongue to hold the lower denture in place. Over time, this practice becomes second nature.
Caring for Your Dentures
Dentures require proper care to keep them clean and fully functioning. Proper maintenance of your dentures is also essential to keep your gums and mouth healthy. For implant-fixed dentures, brush teeth and floss the artificial teeth as you would your natural teeth. Avoid chewing or biting down on hard objects (e.g., ice, bottle caps, pens) that could potentially crack or fracture your artificial teeth. Don’t smoke, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet and visit your dentist every six months for routine exams and cleanings.
Removable dentures should be removed from the mouth every night. Handle the dentures with care to avoid breaking them. Rinse your dentures before gently brushing them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser. Leave your dentures soaking overnight in a cleanser solution to prevent them from drying out. Brush your gums, tongue and palate daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. This helps remove plaque, stimulates circulation and prevents bad breath.
Occasionally, dentures need to be readjusted to accommodate the changes that occur in the mouth, gums and jawbone over time. Depending on your specific case, your dentist may need to adjust the dentures every two or three years.
If your dentures become damaged, loose or ill-fitting, contact your dentist immediately. Dr. Kennedy can make the necessary adjustments to your denture appliance to restore a secure fit and function.
The cost of dentures varies based on several factors, including the type of dentures and materials used. Our team can provide you with an accurate cost estimate and explain your payment options during an in-office appointment.
Learn More about Dentures
For more information about partial or complete dentures, please schedule an appointment at Turnagain Dental with Dr. Kennedy. Call or email us today to make your appointment.