A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues.
There are two types of denture:
- Complete denture: It can be used when all the teeth are missing and can be either "conventional" – made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal (8 to 12 weeks) or "immediate" – made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed, and it should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.
- Partial dentures: It can be used when some natural teeth remain and it can be removable partial denture or bridge when replacement teeth are attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in mouth and fixed (permanent) bridge which replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This "bridge" is then cemented into place.
Implants and bridges can be used also and they more closely resemble the feel of real teeth, but they are more expensive and everyone cannot be a candidate for implants.
First, a dentist or prosthodontist (a dentist who specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth) must make a series of impressions of the patient’s jaw and take measurements of how the patient’s jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.
The patient will try this model several times and the denture will be assessed for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast. Then, a cast of the final denture will be made and adjustments it is necessary.
At first, new dentures may feel a little odd or loose for a few weeks until the muscles of cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place and get comfortable inserting and removing them.
In the beginning, the patient must start with soft foods cut into small pieces and chew slowly using both sides of the mouth and after few week continue eating normally (but cautiously) hot or hard foods and sharp-edged bones or shells.
Sometimes during the first several days, the dentist or prosthodontist can advise a patient to wear the dentures all the time, including while he/she sleeps because this is the quickest way to identify the areas on dentures that may need adjustment. Once adjustments are made, the patient should remove dentures before going to bed.
A denture adhesive may be considered to enhance satisfaction with a properly constructed denture, to assist some people with dry mouth conditions that lessen denture adherence and to provide added stability and security for those people who place unusual demands on their facial muscles, such as public speakers or musicians.
Denture adhesives should be applied with a minimum amount, distributed evenly on clean denture which is necessary to provide the maximum benefit.
There are two types of denture adhesive:
- Paste application – Applied to a dry or preferably wet denture, in three short strips or a series of small dots along the ridge area and one in the center.
- Powder application – Sprinkled as a thin, uniform layer throughout the tissue-bearing surface of the denture. They are easier to clean off the denture and tissue and they don't have the same tendency as pastes do to "shim" (keep the denture away from the tissue).
A denture adhesive should not be considered to "fix" or ill-fitting or poorly constructed dentures because in this cases patient must contact a dentist, when oral hygiene practices cannot be sustained, when adhesive have been used for a long time and when a patient is having any known allergy exists to the adhesive's ingredients.
Most dental insurance providers cover some or all of the cost of dentures.