- Some or all teeth are missing
- The inability to chew well
- An unattractive smile
- Less youthful appearance: cheeks sinking in, lips thinning, chin jutting out
- The shifting of teeth resulting in bite problems
- Increased stress on the remaining teeth
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin sometimes in combination with various metals. Complete dentures replace all the teeth in a jaw and fit directly on the gums and supporting bone. Complete dentures can also be made to attach to dental implants. Partial dentures fill in the spaces created by missing teeth. They rest partly on the gums and partly on the remaining teeth.
Whether some or all of the natural teeth are missing, there are several benefits from replacing them with complete or partial dentures. Replacing missing teeth helps to fill out the smile by giving support to the cheeks and lips. Also, a more youthful, vibrant appearance is achieved by supporting facial muscles. Speaking, chewing, swallowing, and smiling are also improved. Partial dentures prevent teeth from shifting into the spaces created by the missing teeth. This helps prevent bite problems and decreases the likelihood of gum disease that is often associated with crooked teeth.
When a denture is attached to dental implants, especially the lower denture, its retention and stability are dramatically improved. Also, the bone loss that occurs yearly with complete dentures is avoided.
Some possible inconveniences that are associated with a removable appliance, such as a partial or complete denture, include the fact that it is not fixed in the mouth and therefore must be removed while sleeping and to clean, some chewing movements may dislodge the denture, and the possibility of developing sore areas where the denture contacts the gums.
Depending on how strong and where the remaining teeth are located, an alternative to a partial denture is a fixed bridge or dental implants. Dental implants can also be used as an alternative to complete dentures. Bridges, dentures, and crowns in various combinations can be placed on one to several implants to replace any number of missing teeth.