It’s a fact of life that not all teeth last a lifetime. Fortunately, at Braeside Dental Centre, we have many options available to replace your missing tooth or teeth. There are fixed options, like implants and bridges, which stay in the mouth permanently or removable appliances like partial or full dentures which are designed to be removed for cleaning and sleeping. We can help you determine which is the best option for you.
Is a denture right for me?
One of the main advantages of a removable appliance is cost. Removable appliances tend to cost less than the fixed alternatives. A removable denture appliance may be best in the case when many teeth are severely compromised by periodontal (gum) disease or decay, when further tooth extractions are planned, or when the option of placing an implant or bridge is not possible.
That being said, most patients prefer placing an implant or bridge to replace a missing tooth because it more closely mimics their natural teeth. Because dentures can move around when you eat, some foods, like corn on the cob, lettuce, and steak, can be challenging to eat and speech can also be affected. People with a strong gag reflex can find the bulky nature of a denture hard to tolerate. You can find out more about what changes to expect with your new denture when we talk with you about your specific situation. No matter which treatment option you chose, we are committed to making sure it is as beautiful, naturally comfortable and functional as possible.
There are 4 main types of removable appliances or dentures. They can be fitted for the top (maxillary) or bottom (mandibular) jaw.
Partial dentures are used to replace one or more teeth when there are still some natural teeth present in the mouth. This type of denture may have an acrylic (plastic) or metal base and uses claps or small metal arms that wrap around the remaining teeth to hold it in place. Acrylic teeth are mounted into the framework and match the colour and shape of your teeth.
Your dentist will design your partial denture to be as stable as possible for chewing while keeping the amount of metal you see to a minimum. To do so your dentist may selectively shape some of your teeth before taking an impression of your mouth. This also helps to minimize the pressure your denture will place on your remaining teeth and the gums. A mould is made of your teeth and gums, then the dental laboratory will fabricate your denture. This may involve several try-in appointments, depending on the complexity of your partial denture. We want to be sure your denture is as comfortable as possible before you wear them for the first time. Afterwards, it is normal to have some discomfort as the gum tissue learns to adapt to the new pressure of the denture – it’s a bit like building up callouses.
Immediate Complete Denture
This type of denture is placed immediately after the teeth are removed. The dentist and laboratory design your denture by carefully estimating the shape your jaw will take after the teeth are removed. The denture initially acts as a bandage and helps to prevent swelling. Over the course of the first year, but particularly during the first four months, larger changes occur in the shape of the jaw as the body remodels (removes) the bone during its healing process. This can be frustrating because it causes the denture becomes loose. Your dentist can recommend a series of soft or hard relines to get you through this critical healing time.
Once the bone remodeling slows down, a newly fitted denture may be recommended. Taking the denture out at night, after the initial healing period of 24 hours, will help slow down the loss of bone in the jaw, helping your dentures fit more comfortably for longer. The better your dentures fit, the more stable and secure they feel and the better you will be able to chew and speak.
This type of denture is made once the shape of the jaw bone has healed for at least 9-12 months after all of your teeth have been removed.
Both the immediate complete denture and the complete denture sit directly on the gums. They rely on moisture between the acrylic and gums to hold them in place, much like the way two sheets of glass stick together when they are wet. Your muscles also work hard to hold the dentures in place. The shape of your jaw itself is also important in determining how stable your denture will be.
It’s important to remember that the body continues to resorb (dissolve) the part of the jaw bone that used to hold the teeth. Over time the jaw bone becomes weaker and less able to support the denture but removing your denture at night will help slow this process. Using dental implants or tooth roots to support your dentures is another way to increase the stability of your denture while preserving the bone structure of the jaw.
Sometimes it is possible to save some teeth and use them as anchorage for the dentures. These teeth are specially treated by your dentist so that the denture can fit over top of the teeth before resting on the gum. This allows for greater denture stability and less overall bone loss. It’s very important to take extra care brushing these teeth as they can be at a higher risk for decay.
Implant supported dentures
This type of denture is most often preferred by patients because it can substantially restore a person’s ability to chew. The stability the dental implants also gives you confidence that the denture is not going to fall out while smiling or chewing. The dental implants may allow the denture to be less bulky and this can be a great solace for people with strong gag reflexes.
Implant supported dentures can either clip on to a group of dental implants or be a fixed (non-removable) prosthesis. Dental implants are titanium screws that are placed into the jaw. They act just like the root of a tooth only in the case of a complete denture, they are even better. This is because they can be fitted with special tops called anchorage abutments or a bar and the denture can be clipped directly to them. The denture still rests on the gum tissue however but most of the chewing force is carried by the implants. This not only helps protect the gums and jaw bone but has the huge benefit of improving chewing efficiency.
Implant supported dentures are removed for cleaning and at night just like a standard denture. The implants require a simple twice a day brushing as well as a check-up and dental cleaning twice a year just like you would need with real teeth. Many of our patients are surprised by how comfortable an implant placement procedure is. You can learn more about implants on our implant page (link)
Choosing the right option for replacing your missing teeth may seem overwhelming but that is where we come in as we are here to help. At Braeside Dental Centre we understand that your needs can change over time so taking the time to get to know you is an important first step in discovering how to best help you choose your best option and help you realize your dental health goals