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The whole tooth about dentures

Mar 14, 2013

Dentures have come a long way
Photo source: Factoria Dentistry

It happens to all of us sooner or later, oftentimes when we least expect it.

One minute you are chomping away on an ice cube, hard candy or a sinfully chewy piece of salt water taffy, and the next minute you realize a tooth has gone AWOL.

Our mothers warned us about this and it has finally happened to you. You have literally bitten off more than you can chew.

When this happens you have two options, none of which, unfortunately, involve the tooth fairy. Behind dental curtain number one is dentures, and behind number two is implants. In this post we’ll focus on dentures.

Dentures have come a long way since the days when they were made of ivory, bone and porcelain. Most of us have heard about George Washington and his wooden teeth, but many of you may be surprised to learn that ol’ George also crafted his own dentures from hippopotamus, cow, walrus teeth and elephant’s tusk.

Fortunately, modern plastics and acrylics have helped make dentures today more comfortable, better fitting and with no hippo or walrus aftertaste. Despite those advantages, many denture wearers still suffer from denture pain, especially those wearing a full set of lower dentures.

There are three types of  removable dentures:

Conventional This denture is custom made and placed after the remaining teeth are removed and gum tissues have healed. This may take eight to 12 weeks after the teeth are extracted.  These dentures are usually made of porcelain or acrylic. Like crowns made of these materials, there are pros and cons to both.

Porcelain dentures are stronger than those made of acrylic, meaning they usually last longer, require less adjustments over time and preserve the integrity of the underlying gum tissue. Porcelain dentures may be a good option for those with strong jawbones and healthy gum tissues.

Acrylic dentures are lighter than those made of porcelain and are better suited for those with a weaker jawbone or unhealthy gum issues. This type of denture is also a good fit (pun intended) for those who grind their teeth while sleeping or routinely clench their teeth.  Unlike porcelain dentures, acrylic ones won’t crack or break if dropped.

Immediate This denture is often inserted the same day the remaining teeth are removed. This allows the wearer to have teeth during the healing period, although the dentures may need to be relined or remade after the jaw heals. Measurements and models of the jaw are made by the dentist during a preliminary visit. Also known as healing dentures, this denture also provides a protective barrier for the tooth sockets until conventional dentures are fitted.

Partial dentures, or Overdentures This type denture is generally used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. These remaining teeth can often be saved to preserve the jawbone and provide support for the denture. With a partial denture a fixed (permanent) bridge replaces the missing teeth by placing crowns on the adjacent teeth and attaching artificial teeth to them.

A partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base; a metal framework holds the denture in place, allowing it to fit over a small number of remaining natural teeth. The Bridge to Oral Wear is then cemented into place. Aside from the aesthetic value of filling in the spaces left by missing teeth, a bridge also prevents other teeth from shifting and changing position over time.

New denture users often feel awkward for awhile before becoming accustomed to the new device. No tongue in cheek intended, but it takes awhile for their tongue and cheek muscles to keep the denture in place.

Gum irritation and soreness is also common. Those problems are usually short-lived, but follow-up appointments with the dentist who fitted the dentures are generally a good idea so minor adjustments can be made and to ensure the dentures fit properly in the long-term.

One thing for denture wearers to remember is they still have to practice good oral hygiene. Before inserting their dentures every morning, denture wearers should brush their gums, tongue and the roof of their mouth to stimulate gum and tissue circulation and help remove plaque.

A quick note on costs: The cost  for a full set of dentures varies by geographical region and can range from $1,000 to as high as $5,000.  The price also varies depending on whether dentures are fitted by a general dentist or a prosthodontist.  Prosthodontists generally charge more for denture treatment due to the extra schooling required to specialize in specialty procedures like dentures and implants.  However, an estimated 96 percent of surveyed general dentists also insert dentures.

Most dental insurance and discount dental plans reduce the cost of dentures by roughly fifty percent, including all those plans offered here.

Next week we'll look at a growing popular alternative to dentures: dental implants. Could they be a good fit for you? Check back next week and see!  Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk and remember: “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

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Copyright 2013 Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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