If you have had to have teeth removed — either some, or all of them — your dentist will recommend that you replace those teeth with an appliance that closely replicates the look and function of your natural tooth or teeth. Bridges and dental implants are used in situations when a patient has had only one or very few teeth extracted, but, if you’ve had a partial- or full-mouth extraction, you will need removable dentures.
During a partial- or full-mouth extraction, you will be numbed or sedated, and your teeth will be removed. A full-mouth extraction usually takes about two hours, although it could take longer if you have complications such as broken or impacted teeth. After a period of a few weeks, during which your jaw and gums heal, your dentist will take a mold of your gums and start the process of fitting you for dentures.
“There are many different types of dentures, and understanding them is crucial to choosing the best option for you and your smile,” says Dr. Theresa Hayward with Bright Tiger Dental in Louisville, Kentucky. “We are here to help you choose the option that is the most comfortable, functional, and good-looking for you, while keeping in mind your lifestyle and what you can afford.”
Traditional complete dentures replace all of your teeth after a full-mouth extraction, and sit on top of your gums. The base is made of an acrylic resin that is tinted to look like gum tissue, and it contains a full set of plastic or porcelain teeth. They are designed to be removed for cleaning and for oral hygiene care.
If you still have some of your natural teeth, you might get a partial denture. A partial denture has teeth colored to match your natural teeth, and has an acrylic resin base attached to metal clasps that hold the partial in the mouth. A partial denture keeps your remaining teeth from shifting in your jaw, and is also designed to be removed for cleaning and for oral hygiene care.
While other dentures are made out of acrylic materials, flexible dentures are made of a thermoplastic nylon resin that is very thin, durable, and flexible. The flexibility and thinness can make speaking and eating more comfortable. These devices are good for people with metal or acrylic allergies, and do not stain or absorb odors. Extra lab fitting and finishing time make flexible dentures a more expensive option.
Traditional dentures are molded to fit over your gums. However, snap-in dentures are held in place by dental implants inserted into your jawbone. Snap-in dentures can have some benefits over traditional dentures. They are more stable, and can fit better and feel more comfortable. You can eat harder foods than with conventional dentures. Snap-in dentures also preserve the bone in your jaw and prevent bone loss. They do have some drawbacks. You will require implant surgery, which is an outpatient procedure performed under an anesthetic. Snap-in dentures can also cost more than traditional dentures.
Are there different grades of dentures?
Dentures can be of higher or lower quality, depending on the materials used to make them, and cost can vary widely between them. Cheaper dentures are likely to be of lower quality than dentures that are more expensive. Lower-quality materials can be more likely to break, and might make your dentures look less natural. Cheaper dentures also can shrink enough that your fit can be affected. Higher-quality dentures are made out of porcelain and higher-grade acrylics, and can provide a good color match to your gum tissue, unlike lower-quality dentures.
“While lower-grade dentures can seem less expensive at the onset, higher-grade dentures can look better, fit better, and last longer,” says Dr. Hayward.
How long do you have to wait to get dentures after teeth are pulled?
It can take several weeks for you to get your dentures after your teeth have been extracted, because your jaw has to heal.
Your dentist may instead offer you the option of getting immediate dentures. Immediate dentures are dentures that are inserted right after your extraction. With regular dentures, your dentist will take a mold of your mouth after your teeth have been removed and your gums have healed. Immediate dentures are made from a mold taken from your mouth before your teeth are extracted, and then they are fitted right after your teeth have been pulled. Immediate dentures are recommended because they can reduce swelling and bleeding, and you won’t have to venture out into public without teeth. Immediate dentures can also keep your jaw bones in place while you heal. One disadvantage of immediate denture is that they will need to be adjusted several times as you heal and your gum swelling starts to go down—meaning that you’ll be seeing your denturist more often. Immediate dentures can also cost more, and may be a different color than your regular teeth (if you are getting a partial denture).
When should I see a dentist?
Proper care of your dentures is a very important part of your oral hygiene routine. Rinsing, brushing, and soaking your dentures daily; avoiding abrasive cleaners and brushes on your dentures; and gently cleaning your mouth and gums are things you have to do to keep your mouth healthy and your dentures in the best condition. Your dentist will set up a regular schedule of visits to monitor your oral health and the performance of your dentures. However, if you start to experience issues with your dentures’ fit—if they start to slip or chafe—call your dentist right away.
Not properly cleaning your dentures could lead to some mouth health issues, including an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans, commonly known as “thrush.” Thrush can lead to inflamed gums. You can also develop mouth sores if you don’t maintain a denture hygiene routine. If you develop thrush or mouth sores, call your dentist right away for treatment.
Featured Image Credit: AntonioGuillem / iStock.AlertMe