You’ve likely heard the term, but what exactly are dentures? The quick definition is they are removable artificial teeth and gums. Custom-made for your mouth, these are used to replace missing natural teeth. From visually restoring your smile, to giving you the ability to eat comfortably, and supporting and maintaining your facial structure around the cheeks and lips, there are a lot of benefits to them.
Dentures are often associated with older age, but that isn’t always the case. There are a few things you can look out for that may signal the need for dentures at any age:
- Bleeding and/or swollen gums: This is a common sign of periodontal (gum) disease. If gum disease is left untreated it can cause bone loss and lead to tooth loss and the need for dentures.
- Missing or loose teeth: This can signal advanced periodontal (gum) disease. Significant damage could be occurring under your gums without you realizing it. Also watch out for any growing gaps in your teeth, which could signal shifting.
- Severe toothache: A constant, severe toothache can be a sign that decay has moved into your nerve. In some cases, a root canal can help. However, if the decay is really intense and beyond the point of saving, it’s likely to require dentures or a dental implant.
- Missing teeth: If you’re missing several teeth, you’ll want to ensure the remaining teeth stay healthy. Without the proper support, any remaining teeth can become weaker and tend to shift faster. Artificial teeth can restore your quality of life.
- Trouble with chewing and/or digesting food: Both can signal significant damage to your teeth. Keep an eye on any intense pain when chewing, especially with hard or chewy foods. And note signs of indigestion, which is tied to the ability to properly chew food.
Types Of Dentures
There are two types of dentures – partial dentures and full dentures. Both types are usually removable and held in place by denture adhesive.
Partial dentures are often used as a substitute for bridges and crowns in instances of missing teeth. Partials are quite natural-looking and are a great way to prevent your other healthy teeth from shifting or moving out of place. They fasten onto nearby natural teeth to stay in place and are fitted to your gum line. These are not permanently attached, aka they are removable.
Full dentures/complete dentures replace a full set of missing teeth. In some cases, you may require extractions before full dentures can be completed. Older patients often look at complete dentures to restore not only a confident smile but also a sturdier set of teeth. These, similar to the partials, are kept in place by adhesion and suction and are easy to remove.
They can also be implant-supported dentures. Whenever possible, we recommend having one implant per false replacement tooth in order to maintain the bone mass. The denture snaps in place over the top of the implants anchoring it to the implants. The denture is now comfortable and secure for chewing in a normal fashion. Implant-supported dentures are easy to remove for cleaning and we find many patients with poor manual dexterity prefer this open.
In terms of cost, dentures can cost anywhere between $1,100 and $3,000 but is always dependent on your individual situation. Cost can increase if extractions or crowns are involved in the treatment plan. Implant-supported dentures also are more expensive than regular dentures. Private insurance does often cover some of, if not the full cost of dentures. At our Winnipeg dental office, we follow the Manitoba Dental Association fee guide. And we also offer financing, providing a way for you to pay over time if you need it.
Regardless of the type, the first step in creating dentures involves making molds of your oral tissues. This provides a base for creating your dentures and ensuring the right fit. They’re custom-made to the right shape, colour, and size to fit your mouth and needs.
Dentures are made out of one of two materials – resin or porcelain. Resin dentures tend to be less expensive, however, they do wear faster than porcelain dentures. You can expect to replace them about every 5-8 years. Porcelain dentures give not only a more real tooth look, but they also feel more natural and are harder and longer-lasting than resin teeth. The one downside is that they are a bit more fragile. Once your dentures are made, your dentist should have you come in for a test fitting. This is a chance to make any final adjustments to ensure a perfect fit! From start to finish, you are typically looking at 4-5 weeks for your new teeth.
Your first few days after getting your dentures can take some getting used to. It’s common for a bit of soreness to exist, coupled with extra saliva and possibly even trouble with speech and/or chewing. Learning how to properly insert and remove your dentures will help ease the pain. And we recommend starting with softer foods. Things should level out and feel more natural once your tissues and muscles get used to the dentures. Any ongoing problems should be flagged with your dentist to take a look at, as some adjusting may be needed.
Caring For Your Dentures
It’s likely that you’ll be wearing your dentures for a majority of your waking hours. It’s common for patients to remove dentures at night, and we even recommend it, so that your oral tissues have time to breathe and relax. Whenever you aren’t wearing your dentures, they should be kept in a container filled with either water or denture cleaner. Our dentists recommend Novadent, which is available at our office. However, both Polident and Efferdent work well too and can be purchased at your local store. Regular cleaning with a soft toothbrush using soap and water along with mouth rinsing (when your dentures aren’t in) also helps negate any risk of infection and clean plaque.