In the not too distant past, dentures were just one of those things about getting older. In fact, most people expected to move through their senior years with at least a partial set of artificial teeth. While it’s true that today’s retirement years don’t mean we are all destined for dentures, more than 30 million Americans have them, for a variety of reasons including expense; health conditions such as diabetes; accidents; and sports injuries. Interestingly, the number of US adults who will need dentures is expected to increase to nearly 38 million by 2020.
Sometimes people opt for dentures because they have lost a good share of their natural teeth, or damaged or weak teeth must be extracted and replaced. Even with diligent and thorough oral care and regular dental checkups, certain warning signs are good indicators to head to your dentist near you to be evaluated for dentures.
Will they look bad?
Many people naturally worry that dentures will look fake, cause pain in the mouth, limit enjoyment of foods like steak and corn on the cob, do strange things to your speech, or might even fall right out in the middle of a conversation. (Now that would be awkward.)
However, modern iterations of dentures look amazingly like real teeth and function nearly as well. Prepared and placed by a skilled dentist, traditional denture worries are a non-issue. Even so, patients should understand the different types of dentures and which are the best choice, and what to do to avoid future issues.
What to look for
The good news is warning signs that you might need dentures are easy to spot. Take a look at the following list of common precursors.
- Severe and persistent toothaches are an obvious sign of trouble. This could be a signal that tooth decay has transferred to the nerve which causes great discomfort. A root canal might do the trick but if decay has progressed too far, dentures might be the answer.
- Red and swollen gums are another early warning sign of not only tooth issues but gum disease. Gum disease is a serious issue and if left unchecked can lead to bone loss and the inevitable need for dentures. Prevention is the best defense; if you notice any gum issue symptoms, go see your dentist.
- Difficulty chewing food is a less obvious sign but can signal significant damage. If it hurts when you eat hard or chewy foods, you may have a tooth decay issue.
- Loose teeth usually mean decay or a result of periodontal disease. We can’t see underneath our gums and there might be damage in progress that we don’t even know about. Also, be aware of gaps opening between your teeth and consult your dentist for treatment options.
- If you are already missing teeth, that of course is a likely indicator you will need dentures. And the longer you wait, the higher the risk of healthy teeth weakening and increasing the chance of losing more of them.
Types of dentures
Dentures generally come in three different types; conventional, partial, and immediate.
Conventional dentures are what most of us are familiar with. When your gums have fully healed after tooth extraction (about two months), you should be able to wear conventional dentures. This type of denture uses integrated supports and is good choice for people who have lost all top or bottom teeth.
Partial dentures are the best option to replace a portion of teeth and rely on the support of nearby healthy teeth. Anchored in place with metal clasps, partials are great for keeping nearby teeth from shifting around.
Immediate dentures do just that; allow you to replace missing teeth on the spot. However, the big negative is gum healing. Gums shrink and change shape after tooth extraction and as such, immediate dentures require adjustment periods and several dentist office visits to ensure the best fit.
Despite inherent inconveniences, dentures have many benefits, especially the confidence of a bright smile. Better, clearer speech is another positive; as is the ability of dentures to help retain a healthy, younger-looking face.
There’s no reason to shy away from today’s denture options.
For more information on how dentures will fit into your life, contact Elevate Dental at (210) 686-1888.