Dentures (also known as ‘plates’, dental prosthetics or ‘false teeth’) are the oldest method used to replace missing teeth. This page is the start of a section that will tell you all you need to know about getting dentures. Found on the following pages:
- The different types available.
- Getting used to wearing them and potential problems.
- How to keep them clean.
- The procedure involved in getting false teeth made.
Read on for more information on getting dentures generally; including what dentures are and why they are needed, what are the pros and cons of getting dentures and how long they last.
Getting Dentures: An Introduction
While we are getting better at looking after our teeth, unfortunately teeth are still lost for many reasons, most commonly:
“Why Should I Replace Missing Teeth?”
It is usually best to replace missing teeth for several reasons. These include:
- For esthetic reasons, including maintaining your smile and the shape of your lower face.
- To reduce the pressure on the other teeth (and any fillings, crowns etc on them).
- Reduce the chances of getting jaw problems (TMJ).
- To prevent changes to the bite as teeth can move when there is a gap.
- To help keep the other teeth more cleansable and therefore reduce decay and gum problems.
- For speech.
- To help with chewing.
“What are my options for replacing missing teeth?”
The options to replace teeth that have been lost are
- Dentures, which can be removed from the mouth.
- Bridges, which are fixed to the teeth.
- Implants, which are fixed to the jaw bone.
Which of these options will suit you will depend on a number of factors including:
- The health of your mouth, including any remaining teeth and gums.
- Your general health.
- Financial factors.
“So, What are Dentures?”
Dentures are removable appliances that are used to fill the gaps where teeth have been lost. They are made to precisely custom fit your mouth. Modern dentures can look very life-like and feel very comfortable in your mouth.
Dentures are either partial (when some teeth remain) or complete (i.e. there are no teeth left on that jaw). It is always better to have at least a few natural teeth if possible. These teeth will help keep the shape of the jaw and help hold the ‘false teeth’ in.
With even the very best dentures it will take time to adjust to. This adjustment will be needed for everyday tasks, including adjusting to eating and speaking with the ‘false teeth’.
The process of getting dentures made involves several visits. Molds of your mouth are taken and the technician that makes the dentures uses casts of these molds.
Getting Dentures: Benefits, Drawbacks and Alternatives
The following lists outline the pros, cons and alternatives to getting dentures.
Benefits of dentures:
- Improved eating performance if missing a lot of teeth.
- Protect remaining teeth (if any) from excess wear.
- Help support the facial and lip muscles to stop these from ‘sinking in’.
- Cheapest way to replace many missing teeth.
Drawbacks of dentures:
- Take time to get used to.
- Are not fixed into your mouth.
- Can cause harm to teeth and gums if not looked after properly.
- Relatively easy to break.
As mentioned, dentures are just one of several options to replace missing teeth. The other common options are teeth bridges and dental implants.
- Bridges. These have the benefit of being fixed into the mouth. They are not always suitable however, as they depend on healthy natural teeth being present around the gap to be filled.
- Implants. These are becoming the ideal way to replace missing teeth. This involves titanium implants being screwed into the bone to mimic a tooth root. The implants can then hold crowns and bridges fixed into your mouth. Implants can also be used to hold prostheses firmly into the mouth. The drawback is expense and a surgical procedure being required.
Getting Dentures: Holding Them in Place
Dentures stay in place in different ways depending the type of denture and the condition of your mouth.
- Upper complete ‘false teeth’ stay in place with natural suction to the roof of the mouth.
- Lower complete dentures are held in place by the muscles of the tongue, cheeks and lips.
- Partial prostheses are kept in place by clasps (clips) against the remaining teeth. Crowns that include special attachments can also be useful.
- Finally, implants and ‘mini-implants’ are an increasingly useful tool in holding prostheses in place ‘permanently‘. They are useful especially with complete dentures where there are no teeth to help hold them in. However implants can also help hold partial dentures in place. Implants can have a dramatic, indeed life-changing effect in holding dentures in place.
How long do dentures last?
Dentures will, on average, need replaced every 5 years. This is for several reasons:
- They wear down under biting and chewing forces. If the teeth wear down they are not as efficient in terms of eating.
- The underlying gum and bone may change shape while the dentures do not, therefore they may not fit well.
- The teeth may begin to degrade cosmetically.
Sometimes existing ‘plates’ can be relined as opposed to being replaced altogether. If the dentures are fine apart from the fitting surface, then relining may be best. This is where the base is added to, to fill in any gaps between the dentures and your gums.
Signs that a denture needs replaced/relined:
- Become loose over time.
- Irritating the gums.
- Infection under the denture.
- Difficulty cleaning.
- Difficulty eating as worn down.
- Jaw pains.
- Lips/cheeks ‘sunk-in’.
Getting Dentures: Aftercare Advice
As always after any dental treatment, it is useful to be aware of what should be done to reduce complications. See our page on getting used to dentures and denture problems.
After getting dentures fitted, it is still important to keep seeing your dentist for regular check-ups. S/he will check the health of your gums and the fit of your dentures. As your gums may change shape over time, dentures may become ill-fitting. Dentures that don’t fit properly can:
- Become loose, causing annoyance and eating/speaking problems.
- Cause irritation to the gums.
- Increase infection risk, such as thrush.
Need more information? Visit the following pages for much more advice on getting dentures: