Although it is always preferable to keep natural teeth, sometimes that isn’t possible due to age, illness or accidents. Dentures are the most common solution to missing teeth and offer a range of benefits for patients who opt to wear them.
Dentures are a pair of false teeth made from an acrylic (plastic) base and are affixed to the gums using a thin plastic or metal ‘base’. They are designed to mimic the look and feel of your own natural teeth. They are used to replace missing or broken teeth and can dramatically improve a patient’s appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
A full set of dentures will restore all missing natural teeth in both the upper and lower jaw. Alternatively, a partial denture will fill in the spaces left by one or more missing natural teeth in either the upper or lower jaw. Partial dentures are often fastened to surrounding natural teeth with metal clasps, or ‘precision attachments’, so that they remain securely in place.
Whether full or partial, dentures are typically fabricated from heat-cured acrylic polymethyl methacrylate and can be reinforced with rubber or synthetic fibers to obtain a more tissue-like shade and simulate the small capillaries of intra-oral tissues. They are sculpted to fit the patient’s edentulous ridge and are colored and/or glazed to reflect light and reduce the transparency of the acrylic.
The fabrication process starts with the creation of a stone model of the patient’s maxillary and mandibular ridges using standard impression materials. The model is used to create a more detailed impression tray, allowing for the use of a more accurate and high quality impression material such as polyvinyl siloxane.
Once the dentures have been fabricated they will be fitted to the gums and tested for stability. Stability is a measure of how well the pink material of the denture base is in contact with the underlying edentulous ridge (the hill that teeth used to reside on, now comprising residual alveolar bone with overlying mucosa). The higher and broader the ridge, the greater the stability of the denture base.
Once fitted, a full set of dentures will be comfortable and secure in the mouth. You will be able to eat a wider variety of foods and speak clearly without any concerns about your dentures moving around or coming loose. The best way to ensure your dentures are comfortable is to regularly brush your gums, palate and tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush and use a special denture cleaner to keep them clean. It is also important to visit a prosthetist on a regular basis for examination and cleaning.