Dentures are a set of replacement teeth, sometimes called "false teeth," that can be worn to replace a person's natural teeth that are lost due to aging, periodontal disease, injury or decay. They allow the wearer to bite, chew and speak normally.
Dentures are fitted specifically to the patient's mouth and will likely need only small adjustments over time. The patient can have either a full set of dentures (top and bottom teeth) or just a set for the upper or lower arch if necessary.
Dentures have become less common with improvements in oral health.
The Need for Dentures
Once a person loses some or all of his teeth, he can't eat the same foods and will begin to have speech difficulties. Your dentist may recommend a set of dentures if you've lost some of your teeth. If you opt for dentures in this case, some or all of your remaining teeth may be removed, and you'll be fitted with a new set of dentures.
Age is not the only factor when deciding whether a person should receive dentures. Any adult who has lost teeth, for virtually any reason, can be fitted with dentures to allow him to live a normal life.
- Allows normal speech and eating
- Promotes muscle strength in the face, preventing sagging
- Gives a youthful appearance
- Allows the wearer to smile
- Promotes good health due to more dietary options
Depending on the amount you're willing to spend, you can be fitted with either immediate or conventional dentures. The biggest difference between the two is the amount of time you have to wait before being able to use your new set of teeth.
Once your teeth are removed, your dentist can provide you with a set of immediate dentures. These may not be a perfect fit, but you won't have to wait several months for your gums to heal before using dentures. Once your gums have fully healed, you'll most likely be fitted for a set of conventional dentures. Immediate dentures are commonly made from hardened plastic.
Conventional dentures are ones that have been fitted specifically to your mouth. They're likely to be more comfortable than the immediate dentures and won't require much in the way of additional office visits. Conventional dentures can be constructed from either porcelain or hardened plastic.
If you are receiving a complete set of dentures, the procedure begins with the dentist removing any of your natural teeth that are left on the arch involved. Local anesthetic will be used, and the teeth will be extracted. The dentist will then take measurements of your jaw and make a model to which your dentures will be fitted. It can take several months for the gums to heal after an oral operation like this. During this time, your new dentures will be crafted (unless you've opted for immediate dentures as well).
Once your gums have healed, the dentist will ensure that the dentures fit your mouth securely. He'll explain how to care for them and give aftercare instructions. You'll probably be told to wear the dentures constantly for the first few days (including at night), so the muscles in your jaw and face can adjust to them.
Most dental insurance plans will help to cover at least some of the cost for dentures. Check with your policy provider for details. Medicare will pay for teeth to be extracted but will not cover the cost of dentures, as of 2011. Medicaid, however, will fully cover the cost for a set of dentures. The price of dentures will vary based on the type of specialist you see and other factors. The cost for dentures made from hardened plastic is comparable to the cost for those made of porcelain. A full set of dentures can range from $500 to $2,500 per arch.
Learn more about the cost of dentures.
The benefits of dentures are numerous, but a few risks come along with them. If they're not fitted properly, they can cause sores on the gums. Dentures are very durable, but they may need to be replaced in just a few years if there are significant changes in the shape or structure of your mouth. A full upper arch of dentures can mask the taste of foods; while this is not dangerous, it's still something to discuss with your dentist.
Although it's uncommon, there have been cases of people aspirating (inhaling) their dentures. This typically happens when elderly people forget to remove their dentures when they go to bed at night. If they don't die from asphyxiation, the dentures will have to be surgically removed from the airway.
The biggest danger of a set of false teeth doesn't come from the dentures but rather from the denture cream used to hold them in place. Most denture creams are made with zinc oxide. Excessive use of these creams can lead to zinc poisoning or zinc toxicity. If the dentures are poorly fitted, patients are more likely to use extra denture cream to hold them in place, and this leads to an excess amount of zinc being absorbed into the body. Too much zinc can also lead to neurological problems.
The federal Food and Drug Administration has labeled denture cream as a low-risk device (class 1). Most states have been involved in class action lawsuits against the companies that make the major brand name products. Because of the legal issues, manufacturers are starting to make denture creams with less zinc in them, with the eventual goal of removing zinc from them entirely.
The main recovery that's needed with a denture fitting is the healing period after the patient's original teeth are removed. It can take up to several months for the gums to heal fully. There is a slight adjustment period in which the patient will have to get used to wearing dentures. It will take several days to get used to speaking with a new set of dentures in the mouth, and chewing will be less efficient than it used to be with the patient's natural teeth.
The dentures themselves won't require much maintenance. Your dentist will likely recommend that you brush your tongue and gums with a soft-bristled brush each day to promote good oral health. You'll be asked to maintain a regular schedule of visits with your dentist. He'll be able to measure whether your dentures are still fitting properly or whether they need to be replaced with a new set.
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Dentists in Beverly Hills, CA
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