A denture is the plate that holds “false teeth”. Over many centuries, many types of dentures have been invented, and a variety of materials have been used to make them (for example, porcelain, plastic, and metal, still used today).
Although dentures are not the ideal replacement for missing teeth, they are the solution of choice for many. While the initial cost of dentures is lower than other solutions (for example, bridges, crowns, and implants), the total long-term cost can be higher. Dentures may need to be relined periodically, and ideally should be replaced every 3 to 8 years as your face changes and the dentures age. Bridges, crowns, and implants deliver much better results with far fewer complications over the coming years and decades, but their initial cost is higher.
Effects of wearing dentures are not the same for everyone, and can include:
The effects of missing teeth are immediate and progressive. Surrounding teeth begin immediately to shift into the vacant space, in a chain reaction. Consequences can include:
A removable partial denture (as opposed to a permanent bridge) is another way to fill the space, prevent the consequences of missing teeth, and maintain your smile. A good partial plate (denture) uses metal clips to attach the denture to anchored teeth. A good partial denture improves your health, your appearance, and your ability to chew.
In the unfortunate event that you have few to no remaining natural, healthy teeth to work with (often from poor dentition and/or gum disease), complete dentures can be the most economical option for you. The process from start to finish typically requires about six visits to our office. To make a denture, we need to take measurements, make impressions, and test the fit. During the very important second-to-last appointment, you will try the teeth in your mouth. If you are satisfied with the denture, with your authorization, we send your denture for finalization. After this point, we can make no further changes.
For the best results, Dr. Berbari proceeds cautiously through each step of the process, allowing the time to heal between steps. Once the healing is complete, we use acrylic of the highest quality to make the plate and the new teeth.
We may remove all but a few of your own teeth for an over-denture (similar to a bridge, where your natural teeth are filed and used as support for the artificial teeth). The supporting teeth are covered in gold, and then the over-denture fits onto them. This technique gives you a very stable set of dentures, less prone to shifting in your mouth.
If we are not using the over-denture method, all remaining teeth (if there are any) will be removed.
To avoid having you spend a period with no teeth, we can install an “immediate denture” that goes in on the same day as the extraction of your natural teeth. About a week before the day, we make a model of your mouth for the lab technician. On the day of the surgery, we install the denture immediately following the extraction. This type of denture must remain in place for 24 hours with no removal (to prevent excessive swelling of the gums). If the gums were to swell while the denture was removed, it may become impossible to re-install the denture!
The gums do swell following the surgery, and then shrink over a period of 6 to 8 weeks. At the end of the period of swelling, the denture usually becomes loose. We fit and make, at our clinic, a temporary “reline” for the denture, to make it once again fit snugly onto your gums. After approximately a full year of healing, we will make a second “reline” at the laboratory. An alternative to this second reline is to make a new permanent denture that you can wear for the next 3 to 8 years. At the end of the lifetime of a denture, we can again reline or replace.
If you have chosen to have implants instead of dentures, they can be inserted two months after the extraction, otherwise…after a full year of healing.
If this is your first denture, you may need time to adjust to them. Even a perfectly fitting denture can catch bits of food under it. If this happens, you need only remove and rinse the denture after eating.