False teeth vs dentures?

False teeth

False teeth and dentures - are we talking about the same thing? It could be you haven’t given these two terms much thought until you are faced with the prospect of losing some, if not all, of your natural teeth. Imagine that your dentist gives you the bad news. Your teeth must be extracted, and dentures are mentioned as the next step. At this point you might ask: ‘are dentures the same as false teeth?’ Following is an explanation for these interchangeable terms.

Perhaps you’ve had an injury which required ‘stitches’ to close the wound. However, the doctor didn’t refer to them as stitches, but rather she called them ‘sutures’. And yet we all know they are one and the same thing. Professionals often use specialist terminology, whereas more common or colloquial names are used by the lay person. This explains why dental professionals speak of ‘dentures’ or ‘dental prostheses’ while the lay person may refer to the very same thing as ‘false teeth’. The problem with that is the old terms come with the baggage of their former use. The ‘false’ in false teeth makes them sound somewhat untechnical, past their use by date, as if they belong in the dim past. So …
Is ‘false teeth’ an outdated term?

While dentures and false teeth are the same thing, some people labour under the assumption that false teeth are somehow less desirable or more old-fashioned. The term ‘false teeth’ belies the modern and highly technical process of designing and making replacements for lost natural teeth. This outdated term also ignores the advances that have been made over the years since the term ‘false teeth’ was first used. Significant improvements have been made in the wearability, the aesthetics and longevity of dental prostheses otherwise known as dentures.i And yet, despite the dentures or false teeth of today bearing little resemblance to those worn in historical times, this old-fashioned name for dentures persists.

False teeth, dental plate and other terms

‘False teeth’ is not the only term you will hear to describe dentures. Many denture wearers refer to their dentures as ‘my dental plate’, or simply ‘my plate’. ‘Artificial teeth’, ‘fake teeth’, or ‘set of teeth’, are terms used to describe a wide range of dental prostheses, while ‘partials’, and ‘implants’, are terms that refer to specific types of dentures. Finally, ‘choppers’ is a colloquial term adopted by some in the older generations.

Who is a candidate for removeable false teeth or dentures?

What ramifications does this misperception of false teeth, sometimes called false teeth plate, or just plate, have for you as a potential candidate? Some people may be put off, remembering the false teeth their grandpa had back in the day. The image of his ‘choppers’ in a glass beside his bed. The way the false teeth clacked and clicked when he ate. The gummy grimace when he was without them. These scenarios are far from modern reality but it’s surprising how old perceptions persist. Most people don’t give it much thought until they are confronted with the prospect of life without their natural teeth. The good news is whether you lose your teeth at a young or older age, because of accident or ill health, there is a denture solution to suit you.

False teeth – where do I start?

The best advice when faced with the prospect of having to replace your natural teeth with removeable false teeth or denture, especially if having to do so is unexpected, is to be prepared. Firstly, let the initial shock subside. The best decisions are always the considered ones. Then gather information to inform yourself of your choices by doing some research on valid web sites and seeking advice from professionals who work in the fields of oral health. Often your dentist is the first to deliver the news that you will need dentures. It may be a partial denture to replace one or a few teeth, or it may be a full denture to replace all your teeth. Depending on your clinical needs, your dentist may refer you on to another oral specialist. You are under no obligation to any one health provider, and it may be of benefit to consult with the specialist who will design and make your denture before you commit. This will give you an opportunity to develop a relationship with the prosthetist who will look after you and your denture over its lifespan and that of subsequent dentures.

What do false teeth cost?

The all-important question of price influences choice for many people who may be considering false teeth to replace missing natural teeth. Of course, the plethora of choice when it comes to the false teeth options available for denture wearers, means a corresponding range of prices. False teeth can be customised to such levels now that determining what they will cost requires a consultation before a firm quote can be given. Even so, it is possible to give a ‘ballpark’ cost estimate of the most popular types of dentures. See here for price ranges for various types of dentures.

False teeth options

False teeth options have grown in-line with the rapidly developing field of dental prosthetics or false teeth to replace the loss of natural teeth. The new denture materials being developed, together with technological advances in denture science, have widened the choices edentulous patients have to address the loss of their natural teeth. Rest assured, no matter your clinical circumstance, your aesthetic expectations, or your budget, there is a denture option for you.

False teeth implants or over-dentures

While we have largely considered removeable denture options, there is another alternative worth considering for the right candidate. This option involves the implanting of metal posts into the jawbone, then after the healing has occurred, false teeth are attached giving a more stable alternative to a removeable denture. While not everyone is a suitable candidate for reasons including health or finance, over-dentures offer advantages for those who are.

What are false teeth made of?

Unlike the first artificial teeth of ancient civilisations like Egypt and Rome which recycled the teeth of animals or humans,ii modern false teeth are made of resilient and more natural-looking modern materials like acrylic resin, nylon, porcelain, and metal. Further, modern false teeth are made for a precision fit impossible in the past. They are hygienic and fully functional rather than just cosmetic.

Where are false teeth made?

False teeth (or dentures) in Australia are custom-made in dental laboratories where dental prosthetists and dental technicians collaborate on the design fitting and manufacture of dentures. Most denture clinics have a laboratory on site. Dentists send their denture work to these dental laboratories. Your attending prosthetist (oral health provider who designs, makes and fits dentures) will advise you on your options and give you a quote during an initial consultation. If you decide to proceed, impressions of your mouth will be taken, and the manufacture of your denture will proceed. In some cases, if you have decided to have a dentist oversee your new denture, they may elect to send the manufacture of your denture overseas. Overseas clinics are not regulated by Australian standards.

Final words on false teeth

One can easily be confused by the many terms used to describe the very same thing – false teeth. This article also attempts to dispel negative connotations the use of outdated terminology may cause. We clarify what the various terms mean and shine a spotlight on the progress dental science has made since these old terms were first used. In addition, suggestions are offered for those who may find themselves needing to replace lost natural teeth, so they can confidently research their options and have some idea of what their false teeth might cost them.

i Jorge Gonzalez* 3302 Gaston Ave, Dallas TX, 75246, Center for Maxillofacial Prosthetic Clinic, Baylor College of Dentistry, Room #169, USA
ii Jorge Gonzalez* 3302 Gaston Ave, Dallas TX, 75246, Center for Maxillofacial Prosthetic Clinic, Baylor College of Dentistry, Room #169, USA



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