Deciding to get dentures can be a difficult and complicated process. There are a number of different options for dealing with tooth loss and only one of those is dentures. Common reasons that people need dentures include missing teeth, damaged teeth, and bone loss. If you are dealing with any of these problems then dentures are one of the options to help you get back to a place where you can eat, talk, and smile with confidence.
There are a number of options for dealing with missing teeth. These options include dental implants, permanent bridges, partial dentures, and complete dentures. The most appropriate choice between these options is dependent upon the specifics of your situation. A few missing teeth between otherwise healthy teeth are often treated with implants or bridges. In those situations, the healthy teeth can provide the structure and bone necessary to address the missing teeth individually. If you have several missing teeth and the ones that remain are weakened in some way then dentures may be the best option. This is a big decision and it is one that you will make with the help of your prosthodontist. Discuss the current condition of your teeth, gums, and bone structure. If you both determine that dentures are the best solution to your missing teeth then you can get the process started.
Missing teeth are not the only reason to consider dentures. There are situations where teeth sustain significant damage that cannot be repaired. This can be the result of widespread decay or some type of environmental factor such as injury or illness. The only way to determine if your teeth are too damaged for repair is to have them examined by a dentist. Your dentist will look at more than just the surface of your teeth to make this determination. He or she will also look at the roots of your teeth, the bone structure of your jaw, and the condition of your gums. All of these factors will come into play when deciding if dentures are your best option.
Age and disease can lead to bone loss in your jaw. Significant bone loss can cause tooth loss and eventually eliminate the option for dental implants or permanent bridges. If you are experiencing bone loss in your jaw all of your teeth may be at risk. Your prosthodontist will be able to identify the signs of bone loss. In some situations, there are ways to minimize or slow down the bone loss. However, other times it is progressive and will continue until it impacts all of your teeth. Dentures can be a good option if you are experiencing bone loss in your jaw.
The key to a good experience as you explore and potentially get dentures is to go with someone who is skilled in the process. A prosthodontist is a dentist that has additional training in all of the options people have for dealing with tooth loss. If you work with a prosthodontist you can explore every potential option and learn if dentures are the best choice for you.
Julie C Berger, DDS, MA, FACP is a local Gettysburg dentist and a board certified prosthodontist specialist. She is a former full time instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.