If an adult has lost his or her teeth (a condition called “edentulism”), full removable dentures (false teeth) can restore the person's appearance and ability to bite, chew, and talk properly. Even with our current extensive knowledge about tooth care and restoration, over 25 percent of Americans have lost all their teeth by the time they are 65.
How much do you know about dentures? Test yourself below.
How does tooth loss affect your bones?
Bone is a living substance that is constantly changing and rebuilding itself, depending on signals it receives from surrounding tissues. The bone that surrounds your teeth is called alveolar bone (from “alveolus,” meaning sac-like). To keep healthy, alveolar bone needs stimulation or function such as chewing and your teeth touching your opposing teeth. If you lose your teeth, bone begins to melt away (resorb).
How can we minimize bone loss during tooth extraction?
We can maintain bone volume by using bone grafting techniques. While this sounds scary, it is a relatively easy procedure. The principle of bone grafting is to build a sort of scaffolding on which your body begins to build and maintain its own bone. Bone loss can be prevented by the placement of a few dental implants.
How are dentures designed and created?
The dentures that look best and work best for you are based on your original teeth. We often utilize photographs of how you looked with your natural teeth, along with your input about possible changes you would like to see. First we take detailed impressions (molds) of the residual ridges in which your teeth once rested. From these we make denture bases of a light cured plastic resin. We attach horseshoe-shaped rims made of wax to the bases, to simulate the position of the teeth as we work out their design and spacing, based on both appearance and function. The prosthetic teeth are then tried out in your mouth, adjustments are made, and the dentures are processed in a dental laboratory. The final product substitutes a pink colored plastic (methyl methacrylate) to represent the gums and white plastic material as the teeth, created to make them look as natural as possible.
What is your part in the denture fitting process?
As a patient with new dentures, you must learn to use your jaw joints, ligaments, nerves, and muscles in new ways to help stabilize your dentures and to relearn to speak, bite, chew, smile, and laugh with these new structures. It takes a little practice, but with your removable dentures you can once again enjoy a complete and normal life.