Dentures are removable false teeth made from either acrylic or metal that replace missing teeth. While your dentist will aim for you to keep as many of your own teeth is possible, even people who maintain a good dental health routine may require dentures at some stage in their life. Not only can losing teeth cause problems with your speech and eating, it can also have an emotional impact too. Whatever the reasons for tooth loss, dentures can prevent these problems, restore self-confidence, and enhance your appearance by giving extra support to your cheeks and lips. There are several types of dentures to consider depending on your situation, and costs vary accordingly.
What sort of dentures do I need?
Dentures are formed by taking an impression from your mouth and are custom made by a dental technician for the best fit. The colour and the shape of the dentures may be adjusted to look as close to natural teeth as possible.
Depending on how many teeth are missing, you may need to be fitted with complete dentures or partial dentures. Your dentist will give you options depending on your circumstances:
Complete immediate dentures
Also known as full dentures, these prosthetic teeth will be fitted if all your upper and/or lower teeth need to be removed. In most cases, your dentist will be able to insert new dentures immediately after any remaining natural teeth have been removed, ensuring you will not have to go any time without teeth while your gums are healing. Complete dentures fit snugly over your gums and jawbone.
Although your dentist will have taken measurements and modelled your jaw during a prior visit to ensure the dentures fit straightaway, your gums and bone may shrink over time. This is especially true during the first six months after the teeth have been removed and the gum heals. If this is the case, you may need to have your dentures adjusted or replaced to improve the fit.
Complete conventional dentures
In some cases, your dentist might advise that your gums need to heal before you can wear dentures. Although this means that you will be without teeth for several months, you will be more likely to have dentures that fit without needing adjustment later.
If you are not able to wear unassisted dentures due to bone loss or an insufficient palate, or if conventional dentures are not suited, an option could be implant-assisted dentures.
Depending on the condition of your jaw, four to six implants will be fitted to each arch, with special fittings that the denture will attach to. Like single tooth implants, this will require creating a hole through your gum into your jawbone to insert an artificial titanium root. This root will require two to six months to fuse with the bone before the denture can be attached to it.
If you have some of your own natural teeth, you may only need a partial denture to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth. Partial dentures usually consist of a metal or plastic plate with a number of false teeth attached. These are either fastened to your natural teeth with a metal clasp so they can be unclipped and removed, or crowns are placed over some of your natural teeth to serve as anchors for the denture.
How long should I wear dentures for?
For the first few days after being fitted with dentures, you may be advised to wear them constantly. Once your mouth gets used to wearing them, you should remove dentures before you go to bed. This will allow your gums to rest and prevent any fungal infections from developing.
How much do dentures cost?
Having dentures fitted is a band 3 treatment, which costs £214 for NHS dental patients in England. Privately, partial dentures will cost upwards of £400 and complete dentures will cost upwards of £600. The cost of implant-assisted dentures will vary significantly depending on the work involved but is likely to cost in the region of £3,000 upwards. Your dentist can provide you with a written quote before you decide. It is worth noting that dental implants help to preserve the amount of jaw bone which forms the foundation to support the denture.
How long will dentures last?
Well cared-for dentures should last several years but they may need to be relined or re-made after normal wear or after any changes in the shape of your mouth as your gums or bone shrink. Poorly fitting dentures can lead to several problems, including discomfort, bad breath, mouth sores and infections.
Some people who have been wearing full dentures over long periods can find it difficult to have well fitted dentures made.
Will dentures affect how and what I can eat?
Once you first start wearing dentures, you may want to get used to eating with small pieces of soft foods, while avoiding any particularly hard or sticky food. Once you are more familiar with dentures, you should be able to return to a normal, healthy diet.
Do I need to use an adhesive to keep dentures in place?
While you are getting familiar with your dentures, you may want to use a fixative to help keep them in place. This may also be the case if your gums have shrunk a lot. However, tight fitting dentures should not require any adhesive to keep them in place.
Will my mouth require special care?
Even if you have full dentures, you should still take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue and roof of your mouth twice a day with toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. If you have partial dentures, your natural teeth should be cleaned twice daily to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and any future loss of teeth.
What is the best way to care for dentures?
Dentures need to be cleaned as dutifully as natural teeth and are just as susceptible to plaque and trapped food deposits. At least every morning and night you should brush them with paste or soap and water before soaking. Then, they will need to be soaked in a denture cleaning solution. Particular care needs to be taken to remove any traces of denture fixative.
Finally, your dentures need to be brushed as you would your own teeth, with toothpaste and a small-headed toothbrush. If your dentures have a plaque build-up or stains, your dentist or hygienist can clean them for you.
If you remove your dentures overnight, store them in a small amount of water to stop them warping.
Remember that dentures can be quite delicate and may chip, crack or break if dropped, so take extra care when cleaning them. Do not try to adjust dentures as you may damage them beyond repair.
How often should I visit my dentist?
Even if you have complete dentures, you should plan to see your dentist regularly for a check-up so that they can monitor the health of your mouth lining and ensure that your dentures are fitting properly.
This article was provided by Toothpick, the leading provider of online dentist appointments in the UK.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.