From injuries to extractions, tooth loss can affect people of all ages. If you have gaps in your smile due to missing teeth, or if you need to replace all of your teeth, dentures may be an option to consider.
If you associate dentures with the elderly, you may be surprised to learn that many young adults also wear full or partial dentures. This is because modern prostheses look more natural than previous generations, many people not even realizing.
If you’re not sure whether dentures are right for you, you can talk to your dentist to learn about the pros and cons of dentures and other types of dentures.
When should I get dentures?
If you have missing teeth or need to have your teeth extracted, your dentist will recommend replacing them. Gaps in a smile can make people feel self-conscious about how they look, but there are more reasons to consider replacing a tooth than looks.
Missing teeth can also make it difficult to eat certain foods or affect speech. Healthy teeth that are no longer supported on one or both sides can also bend and become crooked over time, making brushing and flossing difficult. If you lose a lot of teeth, your face and jaw will lose some support, which will cause the muscles in your face to sag.
Dentures are just one of the options available to replace one or more missing teeth. Your dentist can also offer alternatives such as a dental bridge or dental implant.
What are the different types of prosthesis?
Dentures can replace a single tooth, several teeth in a row, or an entire dental arch. Three common types of prosthetics are:
Partial dentures – replace one tooth or several teeth that are clipped to healthy teeth on both sides
Complete dentures – replace a full upper or lower jaw that is suction-attached to the gums or roof of the mouth
Implant-retained dentures – full or partial dentures supported by one or more dental implants in the jaw
Dentures are usually made of acrylic designed to look as close to natural teeth as possible. Your dentist can match the color of partial dentures to the rest of your teeth, or you can choose a preferred color for full dentures.
Will dentures make me look older?
High-quality dentures are sometimes indistinguishable from real teeth, so people may not know you’re wearing them. However, they may be less convincing than crowns or bridges made of porcelain, which have similar properties to tooth enamel.
Not wearing dentures and leaving gaps in your smile can make you look older, especially if you have many missing teeth. This can cause your lips, cheeks, and facial muscles to lose support, resulting in a prematurely aged appearance.
In order to provide the most natural appearance and comfort, dentures should be specially made to fit your mouth. Dentures, like teeth, can wear or become damaged over time, so you should see your dentist if your dentures need to be replaced, repaired, or reattached.
How are prostheses made?
If you choose to have dentures, your dentist will take measurements of your mouth and send them to a lab where your custom dentures will be manufactured. When your dentures are ready, your dentist will show you how to insert and remove them and check that they are fitted correctly.
If you need to extract a tooth first or if you have an oral health problem such as gum disease, it is recommended to wait for your gums to heal before taking an impression, otherwise your dentures may not fit properly. If you need dentures urgently, your dentist can fit the emergency dentures, but these may need to be adjusted at subsequent visits.
How long does it take to get used to the prosthesis?
While denture placement doesn’t involve surgery (unless you need complex extractions), it often takes some getting used to what they feel in the mouth, especially how they affect eating and speaking. The adjustment period depends on the individual, but is usually between a few weeks and a few months.
New dentures may loosen (even if they are properly fitted), cause you to produce more saliva than before, and may feel sore. If your dentures are causing a lot of discomfort or you have other unexpected side effects such as swelling or bleeding, make an urgent appointment to see your dentist or doctor.
Are prostheses better than implants?
Dentures are not the only option for replacing missing teeth and improving your smile. You may also be interested in a fixed bridge that can replace several missing teeth between healthy teeth or dental implants. The implant is surgically placed in the jaw and can be closed with a replacement tooth, fixed bridge or removable dentures.
Implants have the advantage of replacing the entire tooth, including the root. This helps support the jaw and prevents deterioration of the bone. Implants are made of titanium, which can last a lifetime without the need for replacement, but the prosthetic tooth covering the implant may need to be replaced after a few years.
The advantages of prosthesis over implants are that prostheses are cheaper and do not require surgery. Your dentist can give you all the information you need about the treatments they offer so you can make a fully informed decision.