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A removable option for Natural looking false teeth
Dentures are a set of false teeth that look just like natural teeth, mounted on removable plastic or metal plates. A single missing tooth can be replaced by ‘partial dentures’, or if you have no teeth remaining on the upper or lower jaw then a set of ‘full dentures’ can be used. Dentures allow the wearer to enjoy eating, socialising and smiling without discomfort or embarrassment.
By no means a new discovery, archaeological remains show that man has been aware of the value of a complete set of working teeth since the first century, when Maya Indians used stones to replace their missing teeth. The first porcelain dentures were made in the 1780’s in France by Nicholas Dubois de Chemant and pharmacist Alexis Duchateau. By 1808 the Italian dentist Giuseppangelo Fonzi had created the single porcelain tooth.
What can dentures do for you?
Replacing missing teeth is important for a number of reasons. From a functional point of view, gaps cause teeth to shift out of position and create an ineffective ‘bite’, making it difficult to eat or even speak. Aesthetic problems also arise. Facial muscles begin to droop and the surrounding mouth area appears ‘sucked in’ causing a dramatic change to the face that ages its appearance considerably.
As well as remedying the practical problems, dentures provide support for the cheeks and mouth, preventing any facial sagging and maintaining an attractive, smoother expression. Dentures can be constructed to carefully match the appearance of your natural teeth so that there is little apparent change. In fact, dentures also provide an opportunity to improve on your previous set of teeth.
As one denture wearer commented, “My teeth have been a mess for years. I looked into numerous combinations of expensive treatments to get them into shape but I eventually realised that the best option would be to have them taken out and replaced by a set of perfect-looking false teeth.”
Obtaining your dentures
Gums need time to recover after teeth have been removed, and this may take several months. During this period ‘immediate dentures’ can be worn. This allows you to have teeth while your gums are healing. This set of dentures may need to be replaced as the bones and gums shrink. Once healing is complete, your dentist will take an impression of the inside of your mouth. The resulting mould is then used to create your dentures, usually out of an acrylic material.
Well constructed dentures shouldn’t require any fixative to hold them in place. Full upper dentures are sealed in position by a thin layer of saliva on the roof of the mouth. Full lower dentures can feel loose at first, but settle into place as the tongue adapts to them. Partial dentures are kept in place using small metal clasps which attach to adjacent teeth. Occasionally, small grooves have to be cut into these teeth to improve the grip.
Living with dentures
It is common to experience minor irritation from new dentures. You may also discover excessive saliva is produced for a short while. These problems will subside as your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures. Your dentist may advise you to wear your dentures all of the time, including when you are asleep, alternatively your dentist may suggest that you remove them before going to bed to allow your gums time to recuperate.
“My initial set of dentures felt, unsurprisingly, very un-natural at first. I simply felt as if there was a piece of plastic in my mouth. However, this did not last long at all. Now, 6 months later, I don’t give them a second’s thought.”
Eating will take a little practice at first. Try soft foods cut into small pieces, chewed on both sides of the mouth simultaneously to prevent movement, then gradually build up to your normal diet. Your speech may be affected slightly, especially certain words, however, this will be resolved with practice. Try repeating difficult words in the privacy of your own home. Should your dentures slip occasionally, such as when you when you laugh or cough, gently bite down and swallow to secure them in place. However, this shouldn’t be an on-going problem, if it is, consult your dentist.
Dental Hygiene is still essential, even with a full set of dentures. Twice a day you should brush your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth with a soft-bristled brush. Regular visits to your dentist are essential (ask what your dentist recommends) for a check-up and professional cleaning. In addition, these examinations allow the dentist to spot any mouth conditions or infections before they become too advanced.
Dentures generally last a long time. However, changes in the inside of your mouth, such as shrinking gums, may require your dentures to be relined or re-made. It is essential to replace poorly fitting dentures otherwise they can feel uncomfortable and look unattractive as well as make eating and talking difficult.
Where to go for your dentures
In the UK you can either receive dentures through an NHS dentist, costing around £200, or through a private cosmetic dental practice, costing around £500. If you are considering getting dentures fitted, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with your dentist.
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