A denture is a removable prosthetic appliance that replaces several, if not all a patient’s natural teeth and provides support for the lips and cheeks. Though we always make every effort to save teeth, there times when disease or trauma make it impossible. For those patients who have lost all their teeth, or will be losing all their teeth in the near future, dentures provide an opportunity to do a smile make-over.
Appearing in public without teeth poses social and professional challenges not to mention eating and speech can be greatly affected as well. Nutritional deficiencies can arise as well if certain foods can’t be eaten.
Dentures are made of a pink colored acrylic with resin or porcelain teeth. The upper full denture will cover and protect the roof of the mouth, while the lower denture is U-shaped to allow free movement of the tongue.
In cases where teeth exist but will need to be extracted, Dr. Frey will make an immediate fitted denture that will be delivered at the same time the teeth are removed. You will never be without teeth. As the gum tissue heals, Dr. Frey may have to add some soft conditioning material to the underside of the denture to re-establish a firm suction. When healing of the gums and tooth sockets is complete, usually in 6 to 9 months, he will reline the dentures with a more durable material.
Before denture treatment, a full teeth cleaning (such as the non-invasive laser dental therapy) may be advised to prevent further complications.
Generally a full upper denture will be quite stable with good suction to hold it in place. If the gum ridges are highly receded, or there is a shallow palate, suction can prove to be difficult. A full lower denture can be a greater challenge to keep stable, as providing room for the tongue reduces the area available to create suction. In most cases dental implants can be placed in the jaw bone, with an attachment that will fit inside the denture and hold it place.
In cases where several sections of teeth are missing, a partial denture (also known as a removable dental bridge) can be made to fill in the spaces. A partial denture will usually have one or more metal clasps that will engage with some of the existing teeth to keep it stable. A partial denture is generally a more economical way to fill several spaces than multiple implants or bridges. Some patients have a partial denture made as a transitional appliance until they are ready to proceed with bridges or implants.
I was warmly greeted by Angel, the office manager as I arrived for my appointment. I had barely sat down in the waiting room when Aimee, one of the two dental hygenists, escorted me to her room. She was warm and friendly, everything was prepared and I was made to feel very welcome and comfortable. As I have a lot of tooth sensitivity, she had prepared a topical numbing agent to be used before she began her cleaning. She also made sure the video was on so I could enjoy a viewing of a region of a country. That day I watched the shoreline of Big Sur, which was a fun contrast to that of Italy which I had enjoyed on a previous visit. The visit ended when Dr. Frey examined my mouth and teeth to check any changes or needs since my last visit. I left with a big white smile!