Dentures used to be a fact of life for the aging population in the days when most people did not have access to preventive dental care. Even today, teeth are commonly lost due to large cavities, fractures, or gum disease. The most prevalent dental treatment for the loss of all teeth are upper and lower dentures.
What are Dentures?
Dentures are false teeth. They consist of a large acrylic base that rests on the gums and the alveolar ridge. This ridge of bone is what is left of the jawbone after the extraction of all of the teeth. The acrylic bases contain teeth made of either plastic or porcelain, which are selected to best fit the patient’s face.
Dentures vs Dental Implants
Pros of Dentures
The biggest pro of dentures is that they are relatively inexpensive. They require minimal maintenance and can last for many years.
Cons of Dentures
Dentures usually look like false teeth. Because of the large acrylic base, they tend to look bulky and fake. This bulkiness can cause the wearer’s mouth, lips and cheeks to look unnaturally full.
Dentures rely on muscle control and a small suction effect to stay in the mouth. They do not have any type of anchor to hold them in place. This means they are often loose and can be embarrassing during speech or eating. The ability to chew is diminished, and some food is impossible to eat with dentures. People often experience difficult speaking while wearing traditional dentures because of the thickness of the denture base.
Maintenance of Dentures
- Denture Reline
The fit of dentures is dependent on the shape of the residual jawbone or ridge. The jawbone’s only purpose is to hold teeth, and once teeth are no longer present, it begins to shrink. This process is called ridge resorption. The degree of ridge resorption is different for every patient. As the jawbone shrinks, a space or gap is created between the denture and the ridge, which causes the dentures to fit poorly and loosely. To a certain extent, this can be managed by relining the inner surface of the denture to fill in that gap. The smaller the ridge gets, the poorer the denture fits. Some changes would require the dentures to be remade from scratch.
- Denture Repair
Dentures can crack or break completely. The teeth can become dislodged from a denture. Any of these issues would require the denture to be repaired by your dentist. This also means, if you do not have a spare set of dentures, you would go without your teeth during the repair period.
Dentures Compared to Natural Teeth
Unfortunately, there is no comparison. Dentures just donot measure up to healthy, natural teeth anchored in a healthy jawbone. While not everyone loves the way their natural teeth look, the function of natural teeth far exceeds the limited ability to chew with dentures.
What if You Don’t Have Healthy Teeth?
Then dentures may be an option for you. Many people adapt well to wearing dentures and are happy with the appearance of them. Although their function is limited, it may be better than what you are currently experiencing if you suffer from many decayed, broken teeth or severe gum disease that has caused all of your teeth to be loose.
How do Dentures Compare to Dental Implants?
Some people do not adapt well to dentures. Either they are not able to tolerate the bulk of material inside their mouths or they cannot develop the muscle control necessary to keep the dentures in place while speaking and eating. In these cases, a patient consider dental implants. Dental implants can improve the appearance, fit and function of dentures.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are titanium root forms placed directly into a patient’s jawbone to act as an anchor. Dental implants can function as a single tooth replacement or as the foundational support for a set of dentures. A dental implant adheres directly to the jawbone through a process called osseointegration, which is the same process undergone in all types of orthopedic surgery including joint replacements. This blog will focus on how dental implants can improve dentures.
How do Dental Implants Support Dentures?
As stated earlier, a traditional denture has no attachment to anything in the mouth and fits by simply resting on the underlying gum tissue and jawbone. Dental implants create an attachment between the removable denture and the jawbone. Dentures are supported by dental implants because of the unique abilities of the various aspects of the implants.
- The root form of the dental implant – The root form (also called simply the implant body) is the portion of the dental implant system that is placed into the jawbone underneath the gums. The dental implant’s presence in the jawbone prevents the shrinkage process that naturally follows tooth extraction. An implant maintains the width and height of the ridge where it is located. This maintenance of the ridge allows a traditional denture to fit properly for a longer duration of time because there is less change in the shape of the ridge that it rests upon.
- The abutment – The abutment is the component of a dental implant which extrudes out of the gums and is attached to the root form with a small screw. Abutments come in all shapes and sizes for many different purposes. For the purpose of retaining a denture, an abutment creates a means of attaching itself to the denture, producing a reliable connection between the denture and the implant. The type of abutment prescribed is based on the number of dental implants placed and the size of the denture.
- The connection between implant and denture – Examples include a ball abutment with an O-ring receiver inside the denture base, a locator abutment with a corresponding connector in the denture, or an elaborate bar connecting multiple abutments with a clip inside the denture. Regardless of which type of connection is selected for your denture, the purpose is the same across the board: creating a firm connection between the denture and the jawbone via a dental implant.
How do Dental Implants Improve Dentures?
Because dental implants create attachment and support for the denture within the underlying jawbone, they are able to improve many of the negative aspects of traditional dentures.
Traditional dentures are bulky, often giving the appearance of too much fullness to the lips and cheeks. This excess material is necessary to provide the support required for chewing with a denture. However, once the dentures have a solid attachment into the bone through an implant connection, this excess material is no longer necessary and can be trimmed down. Removing these extensions of denture base from the areas under the lips, cheeks and tongue gives a patient a more natural appearance.
The implant-denture connection supports chewing function almost as well as healthy, natural teeth! Because of the interlocking attachment between the dental implant and the denture base, the dentures stay in place on the implant during all speaking and chewing. The strength of the connection can be adjusted to the patient’s inclination. Some people prefer a very strong connection, which is difficult for them to remove, whereas other patients want to be able to quickly and easily remove their dentures. The key is that we have flexibility in this matter.
Do You Need Dentures?
Call us today to schedule a consultation with us at Definition Dental. Dr. Agarwal will discuss your treatment options with you in detail so that you can select the option which is right for you.