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It can be easy to assume that dentures aren’t a relevant concern in young people, but there are many reasons to need dentures, and they are not all age-related. The need for dentures can arise from a congenital condition, severe trauma (like a motor vehicle accident), or disease that has resulted in lost teeth. Periodontal disease is associated with most natural tooth loss and diabetes worsens this condition and slows healing.
Dentures have changed the lives of many over the years who otherwise wouldn’t have had healthy or comfortable teeth. There are several kinds of dentures which are chosen based on the remaining natural teeth in the mouth at the time of insertion.
Types of Dentures
These dentures are useful when the patient still has some healthy natural teeth that they want to preserve. In this case, the dentures are not intended to be two full arches of false teeth. Rather, this removable appliance will fill gaps only where needed using clasps and other mechanisms. Dentures should be cleaned frequently, and brushing and flossing will remain an important part of your daily hygiene regimen to continue to maintain your natural teeth.
These dentures cannot be removed without professional assistance, since they are attached to a neighbouring tooth, or they are mounted on dental implant abutments. Fixed dentures offer more stability than their removable counterpart.
This denture is a full set of false teeth on the upper and the lower arches. While some dentures come with a full hard pallet, others offer an exposed palate which offers easier speech and allows patients to retain their sense of taste.
Benefits of Dentures
For patients who have suffered with painful oral conditions and infection, removing the natural teeth can be a way to start again. Without painful tooth disease or decay, the soft tissues get some relief and are able to heal. For these patients, the move to dentures not only improves the health of the tissues but has significant impact on their level of self-confidence. Many patients have never smiled as confidently as they do with dentures. This improvement in self-confidence is often true for patients regardless of the reason for using dentures.
For many patients, tooth loss meant difficult eating and the malnutrition that followed. Without the ability to chew foods properly, patients become severely restricted in what they can comfortably enjoy. Eventually, fortified meal supplement drinks become a necessary part of their diet. Although eating with dentures is a skill which takes some practice, dentures can allow more diversity and satisfaction where it comes to food and nutrition.
Since dentures do not ‘flex’ like teeth do, it is important to distribute bite force evenly. This means that equal amounts of food should be placed on each side of the dental arches and chewed at the same time. Most of our patients need a few days of experimentation before they feel at ease with this method of eating.
Dentures can be life-changing to a patient but, like most prosthetics, there may be challenges around fit. This is because the jaw shape and structure begins to change as soon as six months after removal of the natural teeth. This indicates that your body is getting the message – there are no teeth requiring minerals and nutrients in the mouth, so minerals and nutrients will be used to fortify other areas of the body. The trouble with this is, nutrients are also diverted away from the jaw bone. When this occurs, the jaw begins to change and the facial profile begins to shorten. This is made more dramatic when there is tooth loss, since there are no teeth to fill in the lower jaw and the mouth takes on a sunken appearance. The introduction of dentures helps to bring fullness back to the profile, but as the jaw changes it may be necessary to make adjustments to the shape and fit of the dentures.
Talk to Your Dentist
If you have missing teeth, talk to your dentist about whether dentures could be right for you. In many cases, full dentures are not required to fill in tooth gaps. Your dentist can explore your options, such as a bridge, as an alternative to partial dentures. Your dentist will take the time to understand your oral health goals in terms of tooth replacement and propose steps to get you there. It’s never too late to improve your smile. Whether you are in your twenties, sixties or eighties, modern dentures can offer an esthetic that looks natural and feels great.
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