These Ain’t your Grandparents Dentures!
There is nothing like your natural teeth. That’s why, as dentists, we encourage you to keep your natural teeth for a lifetime. Sometimes, however, due to decay or trauma or periodontal disease, that’s just not possible. When most people think about dentures, they visualize the ill-fitting ones that made Grandpa slur his words and struggle to eat. However, there have been many advances in denture technology. Modern dentures are comfortable to wear and often allow the user to eat, talk, and laugh normally. Today's dentures are also cosmetically appealing and, in many cases, look better than the natural teeth they replace!
After complete tooth loss, immediate, removable dentures are usually fitted. These first dentures are made before the teeth are even removed. That way you never have to go without teeth. No one needs to know. During the next months your mouth will heal and the gums and bone will shrink. The immediate denture will gradually loosen. Once the healing process is complete, new, properly fitted dentures, can be constructed.
Dental implants are often a life changer for denture wearers. Rather than just having to rely on suction or denture adhesive to hold in dentures, two or more dental implants can be placed in the jaw bone to snuggly hold dentures in place. Now you can eat and laugh and talk without fear of dentures slipping. If several implants are placed the denture can sometimes be replaced altogether with permanent, fixed teeth.
Whether you opt for implants or not, getting the most secure denture fit possible requires careful attention to detail. The way the teeth fit together (occlusion) is critical and the size and the shape of teeth should be proportioned to your particular mouth and face. Making excellent dentures is an art and skill that can require a lot of experience. The key to having a good denture experience, with or without dental implants, is getting the fit of the dentures right. The skill of the dentist in making molds and adjusting the dentures to fit properly can dramatically affect the final results. If the bite is right and the contours of the denture are made to ideal, wrinkles around the mouth can be reduced and you can look years younger!
Who should I go to for dentures?
It’s a good idea to select someone with extensive experience in making dentures. A prosthodontist is a dentist that specializes in this kind of treatment. A prosthodontist trains for three additional years after the four years of dental school to be proficient in all kinds of denture treatment options. He or she can advise you on the most modern options so you will look and feel your best.
Julie C. Berger, DDS, MS is a dentist and board certified prosthodontist in Gettysburg, PA. She is a former full time clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.