Dentures are a solution of last resort. Many people assume that they will need dentures as they age, but losing teeth is not a normal part of the aging process. If you care for your teeth well and guard against periodontal (gum) disease, you should be able to keep your teeth for a lifetime.
Saving even a few natural teeth is often better than losing them all. Natural teeth or even parts of natural teeth can help you retain bone in your jaw and can act as stable supports for bridges, overdentures or removable partial dentures. Your dentist will try to save as many of your natural teeth as possible.
Dentures are made for people who have lost all of their teeth. They are called complete dentures. Complete dentures can be given additional support by placement of implants in the bone under the denture.
The good news is that dentures aren't what they used to be. With newer materials and improved technology, dentists can fashion dentures that fit comfortably, appear natural and help you stay healthier. Denture problems, such as clicking, slipping, frequent gum irritation and odor, are signs your dentures may not be fitting properly and may need to be adjusted, relined or remade.
Although dentures may look like your natural teeth, they cannot work like them. Simple actions like speaking and eating may feel different. You will have to learn how to use and adjust to your dentures, which for some people can take several months.
Complete dentures cover your entire jaw, either upper or lower. Some people call them "plates." Complete dentures rest directly on the gum that covers the bone. On occasion, one or more natural teeth are kept when a denture is made. These teeth usually have root canal treatment and are shortened to fit under the denture. This type of denture is known as an overdenture.
Maintaining a few natural teeth and replacing the missing teeth with an overdenture has several advantages:
Your natural teeth help preserve bone.
Your remaining natural teeth bear some of the chewing pressure, which reduces pressure on other areas of the jaw.
Your remaining teeth improve the stability of the denture and make it less likely to shift in your mouth.
Your sense of where your jaw is in space and the pressure you are placing on the denture is better than the sense you have after losing all of your teeth.
Lower dentures tend to be more difficult to keep in your mouth than upper dentures. Therefore, an overdenture can be particularly helpful for the lower jaw, but it is an option for almost anyone who has a few teeth remaining. However, the teeth that will be preserved must meet certain standards of health. Canines and premolars are the most common teeth selected because of their root length and position in the jaw.
The teeth will have to be shaped to fit the denture. Since the shaping may expose the tooth's living pulp, the teeth usually need root canal treatment, which removes the pulp and replaces it with filling material.
The teeth are covered with thin metal castings called copings, which fit into openings in the denture. Attachments also can be put on the copings so the denture is better retained in the mouth. On occasion, a natural tooth can be kept in the mouth without a metal coping. If this is done, it is important that the dentist prescribes fluoride drops that can be placed in the overdenture to prevent decay of the underlying tooth structure.
Overdentures also can fit over implants instead of natural teeth. In fact, implants originally were developed to give people "artificial roots" on which to place bridges or dentures in the lower jaw. The denture can fit directly onto the implants, or a metal bar can link implants together, providing support for the denture.
Removable partial dentures are composed of a metal framework with plastic teeth and gum areas. The framework includes metal clasps or other attachments, which hold the denture in place. However, partial dentures are removed easily for cleaning. Fixed partial dentures, which most people call bridges, are cemented in place and better simulate natural teeth. Bridges are more expensive than removable partial dentures, however, and require healthy adjacent teeth to support them.
Two types of attachments are used in partial dentures — metal clasps and precision attachments. Metal clasps are C-shaped, I-shaped and Y-shaped parts of the denture framework that fit around neighboring natural teeth. These teeth may require shaping to help hold the clasps and keep the denture securely in place. A precision attachment is like a key fitting into a keyhole. A crown that is placed over your tooth contains the "keyhole." The denture contains the "key." When you put in your denture, the "key" fits into the "keyhole" in the crown. This type of denture looks better because no clasps are visible and it also fits tighter. However, it does take more skill to place in the mouth because the "key" must fit exactly into the "keyhole."
A crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. A crown, which many people call a cap, is made to look like your tooth.
There are several reasons for the application of crowns. Mostly they are used if a filling material cannot treat the tooth and it cannot be strengthened because of an extensive damage on the tooth. In this case the help of the crown can hold the parts of the cracked tooth together and also the crown is used to hold a bridge in place. They are also used to cover misshapen and discolored teeth for the cosmetic proposes.
The aim of applying a bridge is to replace one or more missing teeth with the support of natural teeth, a combination of teeth and implants or just implants. In the application of a bridge the teeth (natural teeth or implants), which are found on the both sides of the space of a missing tooth, are covered with crowns and a false tooth between these crowns is placed. The false tooth fills the space, which is left by the missing tooth.
There is no need for a root canal treatment if the teeth, which will receive crowns, are healthy and strong. In order to make the crowns fit properly the parts of the teeth will be removed.
At least three visits needed to get a bridge. The first visit is for the preparation for the teeth to be crowned and for making impressions. In the second visit the metal part of the crown is checked and in the third visit the bridge is placed.