No matter how much you want to preserve your real teeth, it’s not uncommon for people to lose teeth. It may occur with age, decay, gum disease, or injury. If this happens to you, there’s no reason to go through life missing teeth in your smile. It’s better to quickly see your dentist for replacement teeth, so that you avoid shifting of your remaining teeth, speech problems, or saggy facial muscles. One solution that your dentist will likely offer to restore your smile is dentures. Here are some tips to help you select the right dentures for you.
An important step in the process of getting dentures is making sure you have a qualified and experienced dentist treating you. Most dentists provide dentures as part of their services, or you may choose to go to a prosthodontist. This type of specialist focuses on restorative dentistry. No matter who you choose, make sure that you are confident you will get dentures that meet your specific goals and needs.
Type of dentures
There are several types of dentures available, each with their own attributes. These are the main kinds:
- Full dentures – an acrylic appliance that replaces all of the teeth in your upper jaw. These are functional and replicate your real teeth, and are usually comfortable when fitted correctly.
- Partial dentures – these replace one or two missing teeth using a dental arch. Partial dentures are made of acrylic, metal, plastic, or a combination of these materials. These are attached with a clip that holds them in place in your mouth.
- Permanent dentures – these dentures are permanently attached and require almost no maintenance. They are the costliest of the types of dentures.
Dentures are available in various shades of white so that you can select the color that is most natural for you. Be careful about choosing the brightest white color, which may look unnatural compared to the color of your real teeth. Your dentist will help you find a neutral color that looks best with your smile and complexion.
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Once you’ve received dentures to restore missing teeth, it will take some time to get accustomed to them. There’s no reason to be alarmed or frightened about wearing dentures, because most patients go through the same adjustment period. If you’re aware of the potential issues and how to react to them, the process will be easier for you. Here are some rules to follow as you begin wearing dentures.
Don’t try to fix them yourself.
Even though dentures are customized just for you, that doesn’t mean they always fit perfectly right away. There might be some molding defects or other minor flaws that cause the dentures not to fit exactly right or rub sores on your gums. If this happens, don’t try to correct the problem yourself. Take your dentures back to your dentist to explain what’s bothering you, and give your dentist a chance to properly and safely adjust them without damaging the dentures.
Watch your diet.
Similar to getting braces at first, you’ll want to stick to eating soft foods for the first few days of denture wear. Avoid foods that are sticky or hard to chew. Focus on chewing with your back teeth instead of the front part of your dentures, and cut your food into small bites.
Soak your dentures.
Soaking your dentures in a solution recommended by your dentist can help keep them hydrated. This will avoid dryness, which causes friction between your dentures and gums and can lead to mouth sores.
You’re going to unintentionally bite yourself.
It’s part of wearing dentures at first; you’ll probably bite the insides of your cheeks. It’s a natural part of adjusting to the appliance in your mouth, and it will subside as you get used to wearing them. Gargling with a fluoride rinse or other mouthwash provided by your dentist may provide relief.
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In the past, replacing lost teeth meant getting dentures or bridges. Even though these offered the best way at the time to restore your mouth’s appearance and function, technology has improved through the development of dental implants. The main drawbacks of bridges and dentures is that they do not feel or look just like real teeth, and it is difficult to chew tough foods. The advantage of implants is that they look and perform so well that you can’t even tell they are not your natural teeth.
Made from titanium, dental implants are screws that are surgically placed directly into your jawbone. They are light and malleable, but durable and strong. The titanium screws are implanted into your jawbone and given time to heal. Once healing is complete, one or multiple crowns are placed on top of the implant to recreate your missing teeth. One implant can hold more than one screw, so it is possible to attach as many crowns as needed to replace your missing teeth.
Dental implants look so much like real teeth that others won’t even be able to tell that you have any artificial teeth. You might even forget about it yourself, as they feel real as well. Since the implants are securely placed in your jaw, they are as strong as real teeth and you are able to chew and bite anything that you would normally eat. Another great thing about implants is that they don’t impact any of your adjacent healthy teeth. While bridges and dentures can sometimes damage neighboring teeth because those teeth are necessary for support, implants avoid this problem. You are left with a fully restored and comfortable smile.
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You may expect you won’t need dentures because you take good care of your teeth. However, dentures are more prevalent than you may think. The number of adults in the United States needing dentures is expected to increase from 33 million in 1991 to 37 million in 2020. If you are wondering how likely you are to keep your teeth, here are some warning signs that may indicate dentures are in your future.
- You don’t visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and routine cleaning. Gum disease and tooth decay are the leading causes of tooth loss; therefore, it is critical to be proactive with dental care to prevent problems that could cause the need for extraction.
- You have gums that are swollen, tender, red, or bleeding which are indications of periodontal disease. Left untreated, gum disease is the primary cause of adult tooth loss.
- Your teeth have become loose, are shifting, or have developed wider gaps between them that can indicate bone loss from gum disease.
- You have severe tooth pain that could be a sign that decay has progressed and is attacking the nerve at the center of the tooth. Once tooth decay has advanced, it is more likely your tooth will need to be removed.
- You are already missing several of your teeth. If you are missing more than two teeth, it is important to replace them with some sort of prosthesis to keep pressure off of your remaining teeth.
- It is difficult for you to eat hard candy or chewy foods, which may indicate a cracked tooth, cavities, or gum disease.
- If you suffer from recurring stomach aches or indigestion, it may be a sign of dental problems. When you can’t chew properly, you end up swallowing larger pieces of food which is hard on your digestion.
Tooth loss does not happen overnight. With proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits, you may be able to avoid or delay the need for dentures in your future.
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If you have lost all of your teeth or just a few, you are probably a good candidate for dentures. Dentures, also known as removable prosthodontics, are used for the dental restoration or replacement of missing or broken teeth. You may want to consider dentures if any of the following apply to your situation:
- You have very few remaining teeth and they are in poor condition.
- You have suffered bone loss in your mouth so severe it precludes you from considering dental implants.
- You have advanced gum disease that has resulted in the loss of multiple teeth.
- You have lost many teeth, and your remaining teeth are suffering from decay and receding gums.
- You are committed to practicing excellent oral hygiene in order to take good care of your dentures.
You may not be a good candidate for dentures if any of the following apply:
- You are a young patient whose jawbone has not fully developed.
- You grind or clench your teeth.
- You have a sensitive gag reflex.
- You are a smoker.
If you feel you are a good candidate for dentures, your dentist will evaluate the health of your teeth and gums and determine if full or partial dentures are the best choice for you. There are many factors to consider when having dentures placed, and your dental professional can help you make a decision that fits your needs and lifestyle. If you wish to regain oral functionality and improve your smile, dentures may be your answer to once again enjoying a full set of beautiful, natural looking teeth.
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Thanks to advances in dental technology, dentures are more natural looking and comfortable than ever before. If you are one of the many adults wearing dentures to replace missing teeth, there are several do’s and don’ts you will want to follow to ensure they maintain their fit and your oral health:
- Do take your dentures out before going to bed, allowing your mouth tissues to rest from wearing them all day.
- Don’t let your dentures dry out. Soak them in mild denture solution or water while you sleep.
- Do clean them daily with either a mild detergent or special denture cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush.
- Don’t soak them in very hot water, as this could cause them to warp, and they will no longer fit properly.
- Do handle them with care. Dropping your dentures or treating them with strong cleansers or harsh brushes can do permanent damage.
- Don’t neglect your oral care for the rest of your mouth. Even patients with a full set of dentures need to take care of their gums, and if you have partial dentures you should continue to brush and floss your remaining teeth regularly.
- Do pay attention to changes in the fit or feel of your dentures. Problems with fit can lead to irritation and discomfort, and could also be an indication of gum disease.
- Don’t try to adjust or repair your dentures on your own. If your dentures are ill-fitting or damaged in any way, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have them evaluated.
- Do continue to see your dentist for regular checkups to help maintain your best oral health and check your dentures for fit and function.
If you are missing all or some of your teeth, dentures can greatly improve both your appearance and the quality of your life. By following these simple guidelines, you can maintain the beauty and functionality of your dentures for many years.
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