Dentures or prosthetic teeth are commonly referred to as false teeth. They are specially designed to replace an individual’s missing or diseased teeth. Made to order exclusively for each patient, the dentures fit in the mouth cavity, well supported by the soft and hard tissues that surround them.
What is the need for dentures?
People who have lost their teeth or have been suffering for some years from the ill effects of decayed teeth caused by periodontal disease are often advised by dentist to have their teeth replaced either partially or fully by a set of dentures, after having ruled out all other treatment options like cleaning, medication, gum flap surgery or a combination of these.
The teeth, whether natural or artificial, provide a support to the lips and cheeks, and lend to their owner a more ‘youthful’ look than if the person were to be completely devoid of teeth. Thus, having a set of dentures will not only allow the patient to chew his food well, but will also serve to improve the facial appearance to a significant extent.
Types of dentures
Dentures can be either partial or complete. The type of dentures used will depend essentially on the specific needs of the individual.
Partial dentures are used in cases where the patient has only a few missing teeth. They may be of either the removable or the fixed variety, and the patient is generally asked to choose between the two. If a patient has lost only one or two teeth either from an accident or by way of extraction of decayed teeth, the dentist would in all likelihood suggest a fixed partial denture in the form of a ‘crown & bridge’ arrangement. Here, the bridging tooth fits into the gap left by the missing tooth, while the attached crowns sit firmly on the tops of the adjoining teeth on either side. The appliance is cemented in place.
Removable partial dentures are similar to this, but do not have the crowns. They are held in place by means of clips. It is easy to see that these are less stable than the fixed partial dentures, and are correspondingly less expensive than the latter.
When the entire set of teeth on either the lower jaw or on the upper jaw have to be replaced, complete dentures are used. There are 4 kinds of complete dentures. They are standard dentures, immediate dentures, implant retained dentures, and Cu-Sil dentures.
Plastic or porcelain dentures
Denture teeth can be made of plastic as well as of porcelain, and the latter are a better match with natural teeth. Also, porcelain teeth last much longer than do the plastic counterparts.
Important factors to consider
Three important factors have a bearing on the denture wearing experience:
- Support: It is the underlying tissues and gums, collectively termed the oral mucosa, that support the dentures by preventing them from moving vertically and deeper into the respective arches. In the case of the upper teeth, the gums and the buckle shelf play a major role here, while the palate helps support the denture of the lower jaw. Typically, dentures having larger flanges offer better support, so the denture supplier must use the border moulding process to make sure that the denture flanges are extended to the right degree.
- Stability: This has to do with keeping the denture base from moving in the horizontal plane, either sideways or forwards and backwards. The more the denture base stays in continuous contact with the edentulous ridge the better will be the stability. A higher and broader ridge, will also afford better stability.
- Retention: This relates to prevention of the denture movements in a direction opposite to that of insertion. The inner surface of the denture base must match exactly well with the surface of the underlying mucosa, in order to achieve the best possible retention.