If you’ve lost all of your natural teeth, whether from gum disease, tooth decay or injury, complete dentures can replace your missing teeth and your smile.
Replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health.
Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag, making a person look older. You’ll also find it harder to eat and speak – things that people often take for granted until their natural teeth are lost.
There are various types of complete dentures.
A conventional full denture is made and placed in the patient’s mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed which may take several months.
An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes measurements and makes models of the patient’s jaws during a preliminary visit. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.
Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque.
And even if you wear full dentures, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly to maintain your overall oral health and get early warning of serious issues such as oral cancer.
People who have not followed adequate dental care for some years may have already lost most of their teeth and feel a little hopeless.
Sometimes they ask a dentist to remove the remaining teeth as they are often broken and have deep cavities.
It’s true that, sometimes, removal of the remaining teeth and replacing them with full dentures is the only option.
But more often there are other options available.
Some or all of the remaining teeth could be repaired and used in conjunction with a partial denture. While a full denture replaces all of the teeth on the upper or lower jaw, a partial denture replaces some of the teeth.
If only a few weak teeth remain on the upper jaw, it might be preferable to have them extracted and a full upper denture made. Full upper dentures can be more secure than lower ones as the upper denture gets added stability from the palate and is not easily dislodged by the tongue.
If only a few teeth remain on the lower jaw, however, the dentist will usually aim to save them and use a partial denture if necessary.
Ideally, all teeth that can be saved should be saved but this is not always possible – often due to finances.
In such cases, having teeth removed and dentures may be the only option.
Research has shown strong links between periodontitis (advanced form of gum disease) and other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia.
And pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk of delivering pre-term and/or having babies with low birth weight.
However, just because two conditions occur at the same time, doesn’t necessarily mean that one condition causes the other. The relationship could work the other way.
For example, there is evidence that diabetics are more likely to develop periodontitis and have more severe periodontitis than non-diabetics.
Alternatively, two conditions that occur together may be caused by something else.
In addition, people who smoke or use alcohol have a higher than average risk of developing periodontitis and other conditions, including oral cancer.
Research is looking at what happens when periodontitis is treated in individuals with these problems.
The aim is to find out whether periodontitis does have an effect on other health problems.
If one caused the other, improvement in periodontal health would also improve other health problems.
While the research is not yet conclusive, the potential link between periodontitis and systemic health problems, means that preventing periodontitis may be an important step in maintaining overall health.
In most cases, good oral health can be maintained by brushing and flossing every day and receiving regular professional dental care.
Orthodontic treatment is the process of straightening out crooked and crowded teeth, often using appliances such as braces.
Most dentists are trained to treat some minor orthodontic problems but, if they feel a patient needs specialist treatment, they will provide a referral to an orthodontist.
An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
One of the main aims of orthodontics is to straighten teeth and correct jaw alignment through braces, corrective procedures and other “appliances”.
Braces are the most common appliance and there are two types:
– Fixed, which are worn all the time and can only be removed by the dentist
– Removable, which the patient can take out of the mouth
Most patients wear braces for between one and three years, depending on what conditions need correcting. This is followed by a period of wearing a “retainer” that holds teeth in their new positions.
There may be a little discomfort during treatment but modern braces are more comfortable than ever before. They apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth and usually require fewer adjustments than older apparatus.
While braces work best when children are still growing, they can be effective at any age.
People who are new to wearing dentures naturally have many questions about how their life will change.
New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place.
During this time, it’s not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases.
As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should diminish.
Dentures can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that little change in appearance will be noticeable. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile and help fill out the appearance of your face and profile.
Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the dentures from tipping. As you become accustomed to chewing, add other foods until you return to your normal diet.
Continue to chew food using both sides of the mouth at the same time. Be cautious with hot or hard foods and sharp-edged bones or shells.
Initially you may also find that wearing dentures changes how you speak. Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating troublesome words will help. If your dentures “click” while you’re talking, speak more slowly.
You may find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile.
After your dentures are fitted, you’ll have a few follow-up appointments with your dentist to take care of any initial issues and to answer any questions you have.
You’ve probably heard people talking about plaque and maybe you’ve some idea of what it is.
But it’s useful to know a bit more about it so that you can do what’s necessary to minimize the risks.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums.
When you’ve eaten a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. When this happens regularly, the enamel can weaken. This eventually leads to tooth decay.
The food we eat often causes plaque bacteria to produce acids. So, if you eat a lot of snacks, your teeth may be suffering acid attacks all day.
If you don’t remove the plaque through effective daily brushing and cleaning between the teeth, it can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Another effect of plaque is that it also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red and tender or causing them to bleed easily.
If you want to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, make sure you have a balanced diet and avoid having too many snacks between meals.
When you feel like a snack, go for foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.
You’ll give yourself the best chance of good oral health if you build a strong relationship with your dentist.
That can sometimes mean asking the right questions and helping them to assist you in the best way possible.
So you want to make sure you have a dentist who will first of all explain techniques that you should use to help prevent dental health problems. They should be willing to show you step-by-step what you need to do.
You should also choose a dentist who is willing to take time to answer your questions, especially when they are recommending a course of treatment.
If you don’t understand any part of what your dentist recommends, don’t be afraid to ask for more information.
You may want to ask if there are other options to the solution they recommend. For example:
– How do the options differ in cost?
– Which solution will last the longest?
– Do all the options solve the problem?
Ask the dentist which treatments are absolutely necessary, which are elective and Which are cosmetic.
Ask which procedures are urgently needed, and which ones are less urgent. Your dentist will help you prioritize between problems which need immediate attention and those that are less urgent.
Often, treatment can be planned over a period of time but make sure you understand any consequences of delaying treatment.
It’s naturally also important to make sure that you are given full information about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled.
A healthy mouth is a good indication of your overall health and helps you to keep a great smile and continue eating what you want for many years to come.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure your mouth is as healthy as possible:
– Brush your teeth twice a day using a good quality toothbrush
– Renew your toothbrush regularly. It will only keep your mouth healthy if the brush is in good condition and the bristles are strong. You should replace it at least every three or four months
– Clean between your teeth. Your toothbrush can’t reach everywhere and bacteria can linger between the teeth so it’s important to clean between them every day using floss or an interdental cleaner
– Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and oral examinations
Your dentist will be able to give you tips on what other products you should consider to help improve your oral health.
For example, antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes can reduce the germs in your mouth and reduce the risk of gum disease.
Also, fluoride mouth rinses can help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Studies have shown that using mouth rinses provides valuable protection over and above that provided by fluoride toothpaste alone.
Look out for the ADA seal when buying toothbrushes and other dental products. This is a sign that the product has met American Dental Association standards for safety and effectiveness.
Following these steps can help ensure that you continue to enjoy great oral health.
X-rays are extremely valuable for helping dentists identify issues that may not show up on normal oral examination.
The three most common types of dental X-rays are the bitewing, periapical and panoramic X-rays.
Panoramic X-rays give a broad overview of the entire mouth – supplying information about the teeth, upper and lower jawbone, sinuses, and other hard and soft tissues of the head and neck.
Unlike other X-rays, where the film is placed inside the patient’s mouth, the panoramic film is contained in a machine that moves around the patient’s head. So they are very easy to use.
Panoramic X-rays are often used to check wisdom teeth but they will also reveal deep cavities and gum disease. They are also useful to help patients with past or present jaw problems or those who require full or partial removable dentures, dental implants, or braces.
They can also be valuable in assisting people who are suspected of having oral cancer or have had recent trauma to the face or teeth.
Panoramic X-rays play an important role in thorough dental examinations and are recommended at least every five years or so for most patients.
Your dentist will do everything possible to make your visit as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
Depending on the treatment you are receiving, there are several medications available to help.
Some drugs control pain, some help you relax and others put you into a deep sleep during dental treatment.
The best approach will depend on the type of procedure being undertaken, your overall health – including any history of allergies – and the degree of anxiety you feel.
Some of the options your dentist might discuss include:
Analgesics: These are the most commonly used drugs for relief of toothache or pain following dental treatment. They includes aspirin, acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen. There is a separate category of ‘narcotic analgesics’ – such as those containing codeine – which are used for more severe pain.
Local anesthesia: Topical anesthetics are applied to mouth tissues with a swab to prevent pain on the surface level. They may also be used to soothe mouth sores. Injectable local anesthetics prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by blocking the nerves that sense or transmit pain and numbing mouth tissues.
In other cases, your dentist many recommend sedation or general anesthesia.
Your dentist will discuss the best approach to suit your needs.