Dentures “False Teeth” Full Dentures

“A number of studies have indicated that missing teeth are linked to a qualitatively poorer diet. Quality of life clearly suffers when individuals are forced to limit food choices, and the foods chosen do not provide optimal nutrition.” U.S. Surgeon General’s Report

1. What are full dentures?

  • Full or complete dentures replace all the teeth in both jaws. A full denture replaces all the teeth in one jaw.
  • Dentures are provided by general dentists, or by specialist dentists called Prosthodontists.

2. Can a denture improve my appearance?

  • Yes, it can. Quite dramatic changes can be made especially when the natural teeth were unsightly.

3. Will I feel good with my new dentures?

  • Replacing unsightly diseased teeth will help you feel good about yourself.
  • You can expect your dentures to look natural, unobtrusive and attractive.
  • Physical appearance matters to us. Most of us want to look as good as possible.
  • Having an attractive physical appearance improves self-esteem.

4. How will the dentist plan and design my full dentures?

  • The design of the denture will be made with regard to the following:
    • Your dentist will examine your dental ridges, and assess whether they are suitable to support dentures.
    • Your “bite” will need to be re-established to facilitate chewing, and to restore the proper relationship between the jaws and face.
    • The dentist will examine your mouth and face to decide how to improve your appearance.
    • Teeth of the appropriate shade, shape and colour will be selected to suit your face. The aesthetics of the mouth are an important consideration.
    • A measurement is made of how much of your front teeth will be seen when you smile.
    • The dentist will design the denture to support to the lips and cheeks. This will prevent sunken cheeks and creasing at corners of the mouth.

5. What are the benefits of having well-constructed dentures?

  • Dentures make it possible to eat comfortably and well.
    This is a prerequisite for a balanced diet.
  • They will improve your appearance and will help to prevent lines and wrinkles from forming around the mouth, and the cheeks from falling in.
  • They will allow you to speak normally.
  • Dentures will help to maintain the correct alignment between the upper and lower jaws, and prevent jaw joint problems.

6. Will I have to be toothless after extractions?

  • No, you need not be without teeth.
    • Dentures can be made before the teeth are extracted, and inserted directly after the teeth are removed.
    • These are called immediate dentures.
    • Measurements and impressions for these dentures are taken by the dentist before the teeth are extracted.

7. Will Immediate Dentures need to be replaced?

  • Immediate dentures will need to be adjusted periodically until they are comfortable.
    • As healing progresses, the gums and underlying bone will smooth out and shrink.
    • The immediate denture may then need to be relined or rebased to restore a close and comfortable fit.
    • It will eventually become necessary to have new dentures made.

8. What treatment is needed before new dentures can be made?

  • If old dentures have damaged the ridges of the jaws, the dentist may place a soft material in the old dentures to allow the tissues to recover. This is called “tissue conditioning”.
  • If the shape and condition of the ridges are not suitable for dentures, surgical corrections are necessary.

9. What steps will be taken in making new full dentures?

  • The steps taken in having new dentures made are:
    • Your dentist will assess the condition of your mouth, ridges and facial contours.
    • Impressions of the jaws will be taken using an elastic material.
    • The alignment between the upper and lower jaws will be recorded.
    • Your dentist will consult and advise you on the colour, shape and size of teeth that will be suitable. Your age will be taken into account when making these decisions.
    • This information and all relevant records will be sent to the dental technician.
    • The dentures will be made according to the dentist’s instructions.
    • A wax model of the final denture will be “tried in” the mouth to make sure that it looks right, and will function properly. This is the “try-in” stage.
    • With the temporary wax denture in your mouth the dentist will discuss and make any improvements that are needed.
    • After final corrections the wax denture is returned to the technician for processing.

10. What are dentures made of?

  • The base of the denture is made of gum-coloured acrylic, which is sometimes reinforced with metal for extra strength.
    The teeth are made of acrylic or porcelain.

11. Will dentures ever need to be replaced?

  • Dentures are unlikely to last a lifetime. All mouths change with age.
  • When gums and bone recede or shrink the dentures become loose and ill fitting.
    • This makes eating difficult. Food collects under loose dentures and can cause ulcers of the gums and palate.
    • The clicking sound of dentures indicates that they have lost their firmness.
    • Teeth may eventually wear down and become discoloured and unattractive.
    • Regular checks by the dentist will indicate when dentures need to be relined or remade.

12. How can replacing my old dentures improve my appearance?

  • When a denture is replaced you can make the subtle changes needed to keep your teeth looking natural and suited to your face and age.
  • A replacement denture can be made to resemble the previous one.
    It will, however, have an improved fit and the necessary aesthetic changes.
  • Exact denture copying is possible.

13. What is an over-denture?

  • Dentures that are made over implants and teeth are called over-dentures. They greatly improve the firmness of the dentures, and prevent shrinkage of the ridges.
    “Dentures anchored by implants result in a significantly better chewing performance than conventional removable dentures.” U.S. Surgeon General’s Report
  • Dentists sometimes save some teeth rather than extract all of them. This is to preserve the ridges and to improve the firmness of the denture that will fit over them.
  • These retained teeth usually need root canal treatment, and may have gold crowns or covers placed over them.

14. Will it be difficult to get used to new dentures?

  • It is not uncommon for dentures to look and feel good right from the start.
  • Some adjustment and learning will be necessary before chewing is comfortable.
    • Initial difficulties with speech are usually short lived.
    • Tell your dentist if you have problems with “s” sounds or with “whistling”.
    • Painful red spots caused by pressure of the denture may appear.
    • A denture ease will solve the problem.

15. Can I expect my dentures to fit firmly in my mouth?

  • There may be initial problems with stability and firmness, but these can be solved.
  • Upper dentures are held in place by suction and are always more stable than lower dentures. Lower dentures rest on the gums and are mainly kept in position by gravity. Some suction is possible.
    Very small adjustments to dentures can make remarkable improvements.
  • A denture can be clipped onto a few well-placed titanium implants to improve stability.

16. Is it advisable to use denture adhesives or fixatives?

  • It should not be necessary to use a denture adhesive with well-fitting dentures.
  • Dental adhesives can, however, improve the firmness of dentures, and some people prefer to use them.
    • Adhesives can help first time denture wearers to gain confidence and to ajdust to their new dentures.
    • Current findings show that a faster and more natural rate of chewing is possible with the use of denture adhesives.
    • Adhesives can enhance the performance of dentures, and research has shown that older people can enjoy eating, and be better nourished as a result.
    • Discuss the use of adhesives with your dentist. There is a wide variety of denture adhesives available in the form of powders, creams, gels, pads, and strips.
  • It is not advisable to keep old ill-fitting dentures in place by using fixatives. This could cause ongoing damage to the dental ridges and the palate.

17. How can I take care of dentures?

  • Dentures should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly every day.
  • This will prevent the build up of plaque, stains and food debris that can stick to the dentures.
    • Dentures should be cleaned with a soft nailbrush or a special denture brush, using a mild soap or a special denture tooth paste. This will freshen the denture.
    • Brush all over the denture, not only around the teeth.
    • Always brush over a basin filled with water or over a damp cloth, as dentures are easily broken if dropped on a hard surface.
    • Chemical denture cleaners are also available. These include soaking solutions, creams or pastes.
  • It is important not to let the dentures dry out when they are out of the mouth as they may change their shape.
  • Keep them in water or in a soaking cleanser solution.
  • Your dentist may advise you to give the mouth tissues a rest by taking your dentures out at night before going to bed.

18. What is meant by “Denture Sore Mouth”?

  • Denture sore mouth is recognised by redness interspersed with white patches, on the areas of the mouth covered by the denture.
    It is an infection caused by the “Candida Albicans” fungus.
    Despite its name, the condition is generally painless.
  • Consult your dentist if you are aware of this condition in your mouth.
    It is treated with anti-fungal medications.
  • The denture should be thoroughly cleaned and left out of the mouth for as long as possible, while you have the infection.

19. What role does the dental technician play?

  • The dental technician plays a very important part in the making of dentures. The work and processing require skill and precision for a good result.
    • The patient’s impressions received by the technician are converted to plaster casts of the ridges of the mouth. These are exact copies of the ridges and the palate.
    • The casts are then attached to an appliance called an articulator, which simulates lower jaw movement.
    • Wax is used as a temporary denture base material to place the teeth into.
    • It enables the teeth to be positioned and moved if necessary.
    • The “lower jaw” of the articulator is opened and closed after each tooth is placed into the wax. This is to make sure that the upper and lower teeth will meet correctly when they come together.
    • The artificial teeth are all set into the pink wax and sent back to the dentist.
    • The wax denture can now be tested in the mouth for fit and appearance. This is called the “try-in” stage.
    • The technician then replaces the wax with the acrylic base material for the final denture. The denture is sculpted to resemble natural gum.

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