There are a variety of different reasons that a dentist may suggest the necessity of dentures. For instance, when most or all of a patient’s teeth are severely decayed, the dentist may suggest dentures or a combination of dentures and dental implants. Methods such as root canals or bridges may not be adequate to address the severity of the problem at hand. Contrary to popular belief, dentures are no longer a solution for just elderly people. Patients of all ages may require dentures.
The social stigma regarding dentures and old people is a perception of the past. Athletes, for instance, are often involved in accidents which result in dental injury. In the United States today, more than 15 million athletes suffer from some form of dental injury each year. The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. estimates that these sports injuries result in more than 5 million lost teeth. Clearly, the use of dentures is widespread, encompassing all different ages and walks of life.
The use of dentures may be required when a patient suffers from severe tooth decay, loses teeth in an accident, or has an advanced periodontal disease. As such, the denture is quite literally a removable replacement for the missing teeth and surrounding tissue. Dentures not only improve one’s appearance, but they also play a role in improving health by allowing patients to eat nutritious foods again.
Patients who are considering dentures or patients who have been instructed by their dentist that dentures will eventually be required will have to consider two types of available dentures: complete or partial. The most significant difference between the two types is that complete dentures are used for those missing all of their teeth, as opposed to partial dentures which are used for those who have some natural teeth remaining.
Complete dentures may be either immediate or conventional. Immediate dentures are made while the patient still has some teeth remaining. Once the teeth are removed, the dentures can be given to the patient on the same day. This method makes sure that the denture wearer does not have to deal with no teeth throughout the healing phase. Because the gums and bone shrink as they heal after teeth extractions, additional adjustments are needed for immediate dentures over the course of 6 months to a year after the teeth are extracted. Conventional dentures, on the other hand, are made after the removal of the teeth. Once the gums heal, the conventional dentures are delivered.
If the patient has one or more remaining teeth in either the lower or upper jaw, a partial denture can be an option. These dentures are removable and ensure that the surrounding natural teeth stay in the correct position. A crown is often placed on the teeth that surround the missing tooth in order to serve as an anchor for the partial denture itself.
All patients must understand that the decision to get dentures is one which must be made in conjunction with a dentist’s approval. The patient and dentist must both agree on a plan of action in order for the denture treatment to be successful.
Taking Care of Your Dentures
When a patient receives their dentures, the first few weeks can be challenging. The dentures are typically a bit loose and may feel odd, but this is normal as the tongue and cheek muscles begin to adjust to having new teeth. Many patients may experience a bit of soreness or irritation in these first few weeks and will need to return to their dentist for an adjustment of the dentures. These sore spots will slowly subside once the mouth is able to acclimate itself with the new dentures. Most patients find that they are able to eat just about anything with dentures. However, it is important to note that this is not the case in the beginning. It is important to start with soft foods preferably cut into tiny pieces. Eventually the patient will be able to return to a normal diet, however, they are advised to stay away from hard or sticky foods, especially gum chewing. The following advice should be taken while caring for your dentures:
Always handle dentures with care, they can break very easily if dropped
Use warm or cool water to wash the denture, making sure to get rid of any food particles
Make sure to use a moistened denture brush and denture cleaning paste
Always handle with extreme care while brushing and washing off the dentures after the cleaning
Use a dentures cleanser recommended by the dentist to soak overnight
Be sure to brush your tongue, gums, and palate prior to reinserting the dentures
Advancements in dental technology have truly changed the landscape of dentures and denture care. With the ability to achieve what looks like a natural smile, people of all ages have turned to dentures to address their missing teeth.
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