dentures

A denture is used to replace a single missing tooth, more than one missing tooth, all all the missing teeth. When a denture is used to replace one or more missing teeth in a jaw it is called a partial denture and when it is used to replace all the missing teeth in a jaw it is called a complete denture. You could have a combination of partial or complete dentures depending on how many teeth are missing and in which jaws.

A denture is basically a plate with one or more false teeth on it. Partial dentures are either plastic, a mixture of metal and plastic, or a flexible material for example Valplast dentures. Complete dentures are normally plastic.

Partial dentures may have clips (clasps), to help hold them in. Depending on where they are, some of these clips may shows when you open your mouth or smile. Complete dentures don’t have clasps and may need a denture fixative that can be purchased from supermarkets. Another way of securing complete dentures that can considerably improve the retention is to have ovderdentures secured to implants.

You may be asking yourself why you should replace missing teeth. There are several reasons; your appearance, the gap left by a missing tooth can mean greater strain is put on the teeth on either side, and it could also mean your ‘bite’ could be affected. The change to your bite could be as a result of the teeth next to the space leaning into the gap as well as the teeth in the opposite jaw moving into the gap. This can lead to several problems like food getting packed into the gap, which causes gum disease and tooth decay, and it can also alter the way you chew.

Plastic dentures usually need to cover a large area of the mouth to help keep them stable when you eat and spread the load evenly. The plate needs to be made 2mm thick so it is strong enough and where it needs to support the lips the thickness will depend on the amount of gum shrinkage. Your dentist will carefully assess this to make sure your face is properly supported and does have a sagging or collapsed appearance.

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Metal dentures are normally made of an alloy containing Cobalt Chromium and the plate is much thinner. The denture needs healthy teeth to rest on and it may not always be possible to provide one if your teeth are not suitable. Your dentist may suggest tooth coloured clasps if they are in positions that will be visible when you smile.

Valplast flexible partial dentures are are virtually invisible as the clasps are made of the same material as the plate and blends in with the gum. The plate is thinner and virtually unbreakable and can cover less of the palate.

Your dentist will be able to advise you on denture options after examining your teeth and gums. The alternatives to dentures are dental implants or bridges.

If you need to have teeth extracted then it may be possible to fit the denture at the same time as the extractions but the denture will needs adjustments and it will get loose due to gum shrinkage. Your denture may need to be replaced up to six months after the extractions when the gum shrinkage has stopped.

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