When cases of permanent tooth loss are extreme, the results can be embarrassing and inconvenient. It can be difficult to eat or speak, and the urge to hide one’s mouth can be strong. However, there is no reason to hide. The right dentures can transform a mouth, restoring functionality, protecting the gums, and kicking embarrassment to the curb.
What Are Dentures?
Dentures, also called false teeth, are temporary teeth replacements in cases of complete tooth loss. They act as removable appliances to minimize the negative effects of losing all of one’s teeth. A supporting structure reminiscent of the natural gum holds artificial teeth in place, making tasks like eating and speaking more accessible.
It turns out that humans have been coming up with creative false teeth solutions for a very long time, the first appearing to be a combination of animal teeth as far back as 2500 BC. Wooden dentures were first seen in Japan in the 1500s and were the standard until the early 1900s when porcelain gained popularity.
Today, dentures are made from more durable—and sanitary—materials. False teeth are usually shaped from acrylic resin which holds up well against all the activities teeth engage in. The false gum can be made from a similar resin or, more commonly, from a kind of polymer material that is flexible, helping it to fit snugly on the gum line.
The Right Dentures for Your Needs
There are two general types of dentures—conventional and immediate—and it is important to know the difference to find the right dentures for you. Conventional dentures are what most people think of when talking about the appliance. They are as permanent a solution as dentures get, used to replace missing teeth after a person’s mouth and bone have had a chance to heal after permanent tooth loss.
Immediate dentures are a more temporary solution used to provide functionality while the mouth is still healing. They are created even before the natural teeth have been removed and are ready to go immediately after tooth extraction and during the healing process. Because the mouth can take up to six months to recover from tooth loss, having a solution in the interim can be very beneficial.
Immediate dentures are easier than permanent dentures to refit, allowing the dentist to make adjustments based on changes in the mouth such as swelling in the gums and jaw. Once the healing process is complete, immediate dentures can be disposed of in favor of conventional dentures. The right dentures for you will depend on where you are in your recovery process.
The Pros and Cons
Dentures are a great solution for restoring mouth functionality and visual appeal. The right dentures can make speaking easier, inspire confidence, and lift the muscles of your whole face. Natural teeth support the facial muscles, so complete teeth loss causes those muscles to sag. This consequently makes people look much older than they are. Dentures, on the other hand, can help fill out the appearance of a person’s face.
Dentures are custom designed to fit an individual’s mouth, so they are intentionally made to match your natural teeth. While they are a great help, however, they are not as strong as natural teeth, usually lasting for 5 to 10 years. While the removable nature of dentures is a plus in some respects, it does come with additional maintenance requirements. If you want a tooth-replacement solution that is more permanent, consider dental implants.
Living with Dentures
Adjusting to dentures takes some getting used to. Even the right dentures are likely to feel awkward until you get used to them. For a few weeks, it is common for dentures to feel loose while the muscles in your cheeks and tongue learn to hold them in place. You can also expect minor soreness and irritation for the first little while.
There are times when it is inadvisable to wear your dentures, for example, when you go to sleep. This protects them from and your mouth from damage caused by dislodgement, and it gives your gums a break. When you remove your dentures, keep them in a safe place and submerged in warm (not hot) water. This will keep them from warping.
Keeping up a regular dental hygiene routine is perhaps even more important after permanent tooth loss. Thorough care is necessary to stave off gum disease and decay. To remove plaque and stimulate circulation in your tissues, use a soft-bristled brush to brush your gums, roof of your mouth, and tongue each morning before putting in your dentures. Every time you remove your dentures, rinse them thoroughly and brush away plaque and bacteria.
It is also vital to make regular dental visits a priority, including follow-up appointments for the dentist to monitor your dental health as you get used to having dentures. If your dentures stop fitting properly or sustain damage, contact your dentist.