Replacing Teeth with Dentures
If you are missing all of your teeth, or your remaining teeth have problems like decay or gum disease which are too severe to be repaired, a full denture is sometimes your best and only option. Though many people mistakenly believe that ‘pulling’ all of their teeth and getting dentures is the end of their teeth problems, let us assure you that it is usually just the beginning.
Learning to live speak and eat with full dentures is a big change and requires lots of hard work on both our part AND yours. The biggest obstacle is that denture patients are almost always aware that their teeth are not their own – just like a false leg or arm. Dentures shift and move as you speak and they provide only a minimum of chewing force. They lose suction which can cause them to come out unexpectedly. As your bone changes and melts away, the fit will change. Patients will need to come in to adjust sore spots and refill the voids with new plastic as their denture fit changes. At some point, the fit will change enough that they will need to be remade. In general, dentures should be replaced every 5-8 years or when they wobble side-to-side if you push on them with your fingers. Wearing ill-fitting dentures will accelerate the loss of your jawbone.
Even more important to know beforehand: it has been shown that a good number of patients will NEVER be able to wear their dentures comfortably no matter how well they are made. This is particularly true for lower dentures. There is no way to know whether or not you will be a “good” denture wearer or a “bad” one until you actually try to wear a set. We have seen patients who have excellent sets that cannot wear them and likewise, we see patients that have poorly fit dentures that do very well!
Be wary of anyone that will guarantee that you will love your dentures – it’s simply not possible. Given these limitations, a well fitting denture can last for years providing comfortable service and looking good as well. If you are not able to comfortably wear dentures, or your simply tired of dealing with the problems they can cause, you can consider dental implants.
Regular or Immediate?
If you already are missing all of your teeth or already have an existing set of dentures, your decision has been made for you – a regular set can be made while you wear your old dentures. If this is your first set or you still have some remaining teeth, you will need to decide whether or not to have a regular or immediate set of dentures made.
When making a regular set of dentures, your teeth are pulled first followed by a period of healing. Impressions to fabricate your dentures are made only after most of the healing has taken place. The advantage is a more accurate fit and a more stable, permanent result. Also, you will have the opportunity to try in the dentures to evaluate the tooth color, alignment and shape while the dentures are still being “mocked up” for final processing. The main disadvantage is that healing can take one to four months! During that time you would be without any teeth. For most people, this is simply not an option.
An immediate set is made from molds taken while your last remaining teeth are still in place. The stone teeth are cut off of the models and your casts are shaped to simulate what your gums will look like after your surgery. Your dentures are fabricated on these casts before your teeth are ever removed and you will never go without teeth. On the day of delivery, all of the remaining teeth are taken out and the denture is placed as a “bandage” over the extraction sites. You are given special instructions for the first couple of nights and return within a couple of days for adjustments.
Because your teeth are “in the way” until the denture is finished, the try in stage is limited and the final result can only be seen after the last teeth are taken out. The other disadvantage is that as your gums heal and shrink following surgery, your denture will become loose. Typically, we will reline the immediate denture 3-6 months after surgery with a liquid plastic. Most patients will need a completely new denture within the next couple of years since the bone will recontour quickly at first. Because of the extra relines and the short life of the immediate, the initial investment is higher. In the end though, you have the opportunity to heal and learn to live with the new prosthetic as well as work out all of the kinks you like and don’t like about your new smile. When you are ready for a new set, your immediate set can become a spare or ’embarrassment’ set in case your other ones need repair or alteration.
Good, Better, or Best?
At McKee Dental, dentures are both an art and a science.There are many technical decisions in the fabrication of your dentures that can not be altered. There are many aspects, though, where we can use our creativity. Have you always wanted really white teeth? Did your natural teeth have spaces or gaps? Is there a particular smile you have always liked? Basically, you can pick what you find attractive.
There are many options from just the “basic” set that your insurance might cover. Stock teeth are usually a solid color. Custom order teeth are blended from layers of material like natural teeth to have vibrancy and translucency. The shapes can be chosen to match your facial profile. The teeth can be set in a natural or perfected arrangement depending on your preference. The denture itself can be made of solid pink plastic or it can be hand layered and sculpted with different shades of gum color to better blend in with your skin tones.
Give us a call at 704-708-4402 for a complimentary consultation and ask us about our denture options to see how we can help you smile.