Dentures are prosthetic devices designed to help patients with missing teeth perform daily activities that would otherwise be difficult. Patients who have lost their natural teeth due to decay, periodontal disease or injury may suffer from further decay, and difficulty eating and speaking. The absence of teeth can also lead to a sunken, collapsed appearance in the mouth area. By restoring the physical presence of teeth, this malformation is corrected and the patient can maintain their normal appearance. Complete dentures are required for people who have lost all or most of the teeth on either of the two arches of the mouth. Most dentures are made of acrylic.
Conventional dentures are used once all of the teeth of an arch have been extracted and the gum tissues have healed.
An immediate denture is constructed and fitted right after the teeth are extracted. The gum tissues heal beneath the denture.
A maxillary, or upper, denture is typically flesh colored to help it blend in with the rest of the mouth. It covers the palate, which is the roof of the mouth.
A mandibular, or lower, denture is shaped to follow the curve of the bottom arch, leaving space for the tongue.
The teeth of a denture are made of plastic, porcelain or some combination of these materials. Dentures can be created for insertion over endodontically treated teeth. They can also be attached to dental implants, which provide greater strength and stability for the replacement teeth.
Over time, dentures do tend to wear down with normal use. They may need to be replaced or adjusted in order to properly maintain jaw alignment. The jaw bones and gum ridges can eventually recede when teeth are missing, and this will affect alignment. Regular dental check-ups are essential for those with dentures to evaluate the oral tissues for signs of disease or changes.