What is a denture?
A complete denture is a removable tooth replacement option for patients who are missing or require extraction of all the teeth on an arch. Dentures are held in place and supported by the gums, but dental implants are used increasingly today to aid in the retention and stability of dentures.
There are three main types of complete dentures:
- Immediate dentures
The term “immediate denture” refers to dentures that are made prior to extracting the remaining teeth. They are delivered on the same day the teeth are removed. Immediate dentures can be used in one of two ways. First, they can be used as a temporary appliance until the gums fully heal, after which time they will be replaced with a permanent set of conventional or implant-retained dentures. Alternatively, there are many cases where immediate dentures may be used as the final denture set.
- Conventional dentures
This refers to dentures made after the teeth have all been removed or are already missing.
- Implant-retained dentures
When dental implants are used to help retain and support dentures, we call those “implant-retained dentures” or “implant overdentures.” Implants can be used in a number of ways to help improve the comfort and function of dentures and this is rapidly becoming the treatment of choice for most patients requiring replacement of all the teeth on one or both arches. This is discussed more below and on our dental implants page.
What are the benefits of dentures?
When a patient is missing one or both arches of teeth, dentures are the quickest and least expensive way to replace teeth. Immediate dentures offer the patient an immediate tooth replacement option after tooth extraction so that the wearer does not have to go without teeth during this initial healing time. With dentures, patients will be able to smile with confidence and chew food again.
What are the disadvantages of dentures?
The classic downside of complete dentures is that they tend to dislodge and move around during speaking and eating. This movement may also make the gum tissues quite sore. These issues are generally worse for lower dentures than for uppers. This might seem counterintuitive as many think lower dentures have gravity to help hold them to place. The difference here is because upper dentures cover the roof of the mouth which provides suction to help stay in place. Lower dentures have no suction and simply rest on top of the lower ridge; this allows them to float up during speech or chewing. Lower dentures rely on the tongue and lips to help hold them in place. Another common complaint about dentures is that they decrease the ability to taste foods. The reason for this is that not all taste buds are on the tongue but rather there are many in other areas of the mouth as well, especially along the roof of the mouth. Dentures cover much of these areas which decrease the sense of taste and enjoyment of food.
Is there a way to make dentures stay in place better?
Yes! Implants are quickly becoming the standard of care for use in increasing the retention and comfort of dentures. Dental implants help by anchoring the denture in place, giving it much more rigidity and allowing the patient to chew and talk much better when compared with conventional removable dentures. There are a few different ways that implants can help retain and support dentures. Visit our dental implants page to learn more about the available options.
What alternatives are there to complete dentures?
In cases where all the teeth are missing from an arch, a full-arch denture is the chief method to replace the teeth. In very specialized cases, a porcelain bridge can be made to attach to multiple implants to replace an entire arch, though some consider this just another form of implant-retained denture. Thus the usual decision to be made is which kind of denture to provide: conventional versus implant-retained denture. Even though these are both considered types of dentures, their design and functional abilities are very different from one another.
What is the next step to determine if a denture is right for me?
Dr. Jason Doublestein, Dr. Michael Wierenga, and Dr. Katelyn Trierweiler along with our dedicated staff here at 44 West Dental Professionals have the training and experience to provide the whole range of tooth replacement options for our patients. If you wish to discuss which option may be best for you, give us a call at (616) 530-2200 to set up a consultation today!