What Exactly Are Dentures?

Said plainly, dentures are a prostheses/ artificial body part for missing natural teeth and adjacent tissues and are a temporary or permanent tooth replacement option for people of all ages.

Losing some, or all your natural teeth, can seriously compromise your oral health related quality of life so missing teeth should not be ignored. Dentures are an extremely cost-effective replacement option for teeth lost due to tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma and dental prosthetists are the experts when it comes to design, manufacture, fitting, and rehabilitation.

Dentures have been a part of human civilisation for thousands of years (since 700 BC in fact) and are so common that we all know what they are whether we wear one ourselves or not. They are the number one false body part globally and are worn successfully by millions of people.

There are three main types:

1. Complete or full dentures

When you have no remaining natural teeth (that is you are edentulous – a fancy word for toothless) on either your top jaw or bottom jaw or both, a complete denture is a removable dental prosthesis which replaces all your lost natural teeth and surrounding tissues. They are made of an acrylic base that matches your natural gum with multi-layered composite acrylic teeth that best resemble your original smile.

For those who like technical detail here is a basic summary of the denture making process.

Full Lower Dentures – Something you should know.

It can be quite a confusing time when you first start the process of having full dentures made.

The lower full denture is particularly problematic because of the anatomy of the lower jaw and tongue. Unlike the upper full denture that achieves suction the lower full denture can often move around when eating or talking causing distress.

Whether you are an experienced denture wearer looking to have a new set or if you are new to denture wearing there is a variety of different construction techniques being marketed to solve this problem.

However, no two mouths are the same and therefore no one system works for everyone. Over the decades of running a successful denture clinic we have attempted to salvage many dentures made under a rigid construction system by other practitioners which did not work for that individual.

The only definitive way of getting the optimum outcome is to see a dental prosthetist (us of course!) who is highly skilled at assessing each patient’s distinct oral cavity and using the technique that will work for them. This involves skills, not only in the more practical laboratory elements of construction, but more importantly in having an innate ‘eye’ for individual design, appearance and eating function. Well balanced, individualised design, considering both the upper and lower jaw combined anatomy and function, is the tried-and-true way of ensuring that you can successfully wear a lower full denture.

This is should always be complemented by a comprehensive rehabilitation period. You wouldn’t expect to run straight away on a prosthetic leg so neither should you expect to be able to eat and speak without adjustments and follow up with a new denture no matter how experienced you are. That’s why we offer unlimited follow up appointments – we’re not happy till you are.

2. Partial denture

A partial denture is used when a person still has one or more natural teeth remaining. The denture will replace the missing teeth and may be held in place by clasps on what natural teeth remain. It can be made with either a hard acrylic resin, a flexible thermoplastic or a metallic cobalt-chrome base. Our Senior Dental Prosthetist will discuss the pros and cons of these 3 options with you when planning for a denture that best suits you. At your design consultation it is also a very good idea to inform us of any future dental work you are aware of needing. This information can help us properly plan the type and design to maximise the life of your new denture, for example, to allow for future tooth additions without needing to replace the denture completely.

3. A removable implant-retained denture

This is an expensive but good alternative to the standard full/complete denture, most commonly done for a full/complete lower denture. These dentures are held in place by dental implants retained within the jawbone. This denture can still be removed from the mouth by the person wearing it, but it is given more stability and security by the extra holding impact of the implants.

Your dentist will determine the suitability of this type of denture and is responsible for inserting the implants. We can make the implant retained denture for you and do all the necessary follow up over the years such as replacing implant attachments and relining the dentures to keep them fitting snugly.

4. Immediate dentures

This is another potential option when facing losing some or all of your natural teeth and replacing these lost teeth with a denture.

Usually you would have the extractions done first and then wait weeks (or months) for your gums to heal before you can safely start the process of getting a denture made. However this means that you are ‘toothless’ during this period which may not suit your lifestyle.

The solution to this dilemma is to have a denture made before the extractions which is then fitted immediately (hence ‘immediate’ denture) over the extraction sites.

Voila! You have no missing teeth. The denture can also act as a ‘bandaid’ over the extraction sites and help keep swelling down thereby speeding up healing.

However nothing is perfect. Sometimes the unexpected can happen.

How extractions, especially multiple extractions, will go can never really be fully determined beforehand. Perhaps more bone came out than usual or a particular root required more incision to come away. Maybe the swelling or bleeding was quite severe making your mouth extremely sore. These are rare but possible outcomes which can mean that you cannot tolerate the denture as was planned.

This is no one’s fault but it can be very disappointing if you have an immediate denture made but end up toothless for a short time anyway due to unforeseen circumstances.

Also immediate dentures require more follow up (and associated costs) than a ‘normal’ denture as the gum shrinks and the bite changes while healing occurs over the next weeks and months.

Another consideration is that, in consultation with us and your dentist, it may be advised that you have a temporary denture made first then your permanent denture made 6 to 12 months later which will also add to the initial costs.

These are all important things to be taken into account. Immediate dentures are a great option but with all things be informed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a Dental Prosthetist differ from dentists?
A Dental Prosthetist is a highly qualified and skilled dental professional who works exclusively in the area of constructing and fitting all types of dentures direct to the public. Dentists do not make dentures, they ony fit dentures. Dentist’s have your denture constructed at a commercial laboratory by someone who has never seen you or met you. When you make an appointment with our Dental Prosthetist to have a denture made, they will be involved personally in every stage including any after care ensuring that your denture is ideal for your individual needs.
How different are dentures to having your own teeth?
Well-designed dentures resemble your natural teeth and you will be able to speak and chew with confidence. It will not be obvious to anyone else that you are a denture wearer. To help us in constructing a denture that achieves this at your first denture appointment we take a photograph of you smiling, assess your speech patterns and, with your input, choose the shape and colour of the teeth to be used.
What types of dentures are available?
Dentures are removable devices constructed to replace missing teeth for functional, cosmetic and oral health reasons. The two main types of dentures are complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. If teeth are to be extracted, depending on individual circumstances, an immediate denture may be constructed prior to tooth extraction. The denture is then placed into the mouth at the time of the extraction so that you never have to be without teeth.
Is it okay to sleep with your dentures in?
While you can sleep with your dentures in if you prefer it is a good idea to leave them out for at least 8 hours overnight to give relief to the tissues supporting your denture.
Are dentures expensive
As every individual’s needs differ your Dental Prosthetist will inform you of all your treatment options and the costs involved. Dentures Direct Ballina offers a no obligation initial consultation to determine an exact quote before any bookings are made to proceed with the construction and fitting of a denture. If you consider the cost of new dentures over the years of use most dentures cost less than a cup of coffee a week.
How do I keep my dentures clean?
Dentures should be regularly cleaned with a non-abrasive denture cleaner and soft bristled brush. Do not use toothpaste as the abrasive agents in toothpaste can cause microscopic scratches where bacteria and stains can build-up. The best way to clean your denture is either holding them over a sink filled with water or over a folded towel to save them from being damaged if you accidently drop them. Dentures don’t bounce! If your denture becomes too stained for home cleaning methods your Dental Prosthetist can clean them in an ultra-sonic cleaner which will restore them to their original condition.

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