Dentures are the cheapest way to replace a missing tooth, however they are poorly tolerated as a single tooth replacement. Dentures can be made of pink plastic also known as “acrylic”, or a combination of cobalt chrome and acrylic.
Full complete dentures are made to replace all upper or lower teeth. These are not fixed into place, although lower dentures can be significantly improved by being attached to three dental implants to stop the denture floating around your mouth. The lower denture is much harder to control and implants significantly improve the patient’s quality of life and eating capabilities.
Partial dentures are a good way to replace multiple missing teeth, whilst utilising the remaining natural teeth. All dentures are removable, unlike bridges or implants.
Upper partial or full dentures use the roof of the mouth as a large surface area to help with retention, although dentures are a replacement for no teeth, not a replacement for teeth. Food can taste different as the roof of the mouth is covered in a layer of acrylic.
Eating on one side with a full denture makes it drop on the other side as it breaks the seal. It is whole new way of eating when using dentures. Some adhesives like Polident can help, but the best option is to retain as many of your teeth as possible to avoid needing to have dentures.
Learning to use a denture(s) takes time and patience. Practicing reading out loud for 20 minutes a day after receiving your denture improves your speech as you will initially lisp.
It is important to have annual checks of your soft tissues such as tongue, cheeks, lips, palate to make sure there aren’t any red or white patches and an oral cancer screen.
DENTURES – THE PROCEDURE
Dentures are manufactured over multiple visits, with 7-10 days between appointments to allow time for the dental laboratory to provide the next stage.
The first appointment involves taking impressions of your mouth with stock trays to make custom-made trays. A second set of impressions are taken using the custom-made trays. Sometimes a bite can be taken at this appointment, or bite blocks are made for the third appointment. A shade and shape of the teeth are chosen also. A trial fit of the denture in wax is done at the fourth appointment, although this is sometimes not required. The final appointment is where we fit the denture.
IMMEDIATE TEMPORARY DENTURES
This is when a tooth has been planned for extraction and the patient wants a tooth to be placed in the gap immediately. Ten days before the planned extraction, impressions, a bite and a shade are taken. The tooth is removed and the denture placed straight after. We review the healing 24 hours later to do any adjustments. This is a temporary denture, as over the next 6 months a significant amount of healing occurs and the gums shrink away from the denture. At six months we can do a one-day reline.
ONE DAY RELINES
These must be booked with the laboratory in advance. At 9am, an impression of the fitting surface of the denture is taken, and sent to the lab. You will be without your denture until 4pm of the same day. It is fitted and any adjustments undertaken.
Relines should be done at 6 months following extractions as the healing will be complete. Relines should also be done for full dentures every 5 years.
Dentures need to be cleaned with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap daily. Toothpastes have abrasive particles and can damage the denture’s highly polished surface. Using e.g. a Steradent tablet daily as per their instructions is ideal.
Dentures should be left out of your mouth overnight to reduce fungal infections. Shoes are not worn in bed, and neither should dentures! Dentures should be left in a clean glass of water after deep cleaning with a Steradent tablet or equivalent.