Losing your teeth can be a very difficult process emotionally and physically. There are a number of factors that contribute to tooth loss including aging, decay, disease, and lifestyle choices like smoking. No matter what element led to your tooth loss the important thing now is to take steps toward getting help. Having teeth that allow you to eat, talk, and smile normally once again is the goal. The way to get to that goal may include getting dentures, dental implants, or a combination of both. The one that is right for you depends on a number of factors that you can read about below.
Full dentures are designed for people who have lost all of their teeth or need to have all of them removed. When you lose all of your teeth you also lose a significant amount of jaw structure. The roots of your teeth provide structure that impacts the way your entire face looks. Dentures can restore that structure when you wear them allowing you to look like yourself once again. In addition, dentures function like natural teeth by allowing you to chew just about any type of food. The function and form of a well-designed pair of dentures can help you return to living your life without the concerns that come along with missing teeth.
Dental implants may be an option if you have several natural teeth remaining. Implants are inserted into the jaw bone and help add to the overall stability of your jaw and teeth. Dental implants are a more permanent solution than dentures because they can be treated like your normal teeth. You do not have to take implants out to clean them as you do with dentures-simply brush and floss the same as your natural teeth.
Combination of both
Some patients do well with a combination of dentures and dental implants. Partial dentures can be anchored to natural teeth and dental implants. This gives patients who have some healthy teeth the option of keeping those teeth in place. A combination of dental implants and partial dentures can provide you with functioning and great looking teeth.
Ultimately, the choice between dentures, dental implants, or a combination of both is one that you and your prosthodontist will make together. This type of dental care is customized to the individual in order to get the best possible results. You will work closely with your prosthodontist to determine the condition of any teeth you have remaining. Once you determine if you will keep any of your natural teeth you can move on to deciding if dentures or implants are the best option 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.