Dentures are necessary to replace multiple missing teeth. If unattended to severe decay, badly broken teeth or gum disease can result in the loss of most or all of the teeth. This causes functional problems because the patient can’t chew food properly, and it may lead to digestive problems or nutritional deficiencies. Dentures also make speech clear again. Without teeth, the facial muscles begin to sag prematurely, which makes the patient look much older; dentures can correct this problem and improve the appearance.
There are three kinds of dentures: conventional, immediate and overdentures. Conventional dentures are the well-known removable dentures. These dentures are not placed in the mouth until several months after the teeth have been extracted, to allow the gums to heal. The advantage of conventional dentures is that they don’t usually have to be modified or refitted. Immediate dentures, on the other hand, are inserted right after surgery. These dentures sometimes need to be adjusted or remade, as they may not fit as well once full healing has occurred. An overdenture is used when some teeth remain; it fits over the remaining teeth.
Having dentures doesn’t mean oral care is unnecessary. The mouth, palate, tongue and gums must still be brushed with a toothbrush and toothpaste at least once a day; plaque can form on the gums as well as teeth. Brushing also stimulates the circulation in the mouth. Dentures should be rinsed and then brushed with a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive cleaner. Dentures should be stored in a covered, water-filled container when not in use.
Patients who have healthy bone and tissue and properly fitted dentures don’t usually have any problems keeping the dentures in place. Others prefer or need to use denture adhesives. Denture adhesives are available over-the-counter in creams, pads, strips or liquid forms. If dentures are very loose or cause sore spots, the dentist can adjust them.
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