Dentures are much more than a replacement for lost teeth. Getting dentures has a flow-on effect with health, psychological, social and other wider benefits.
But first, let’s address the question: what are dentures?
What are dentures? – a physical definition
Dentures are a custom-made prosthetic replacement for lost or missing teeth, replacing upper or lower teeth, or both. They may also replace just one or two missing teeth. The customised nature of dentures means they can be made to serve any oral configuration according to an individual’s clinical, aesthetic, and financial requirements.
The diversity of denture solutions from which to choose
Think of any situation where a denture is required and rest assured, there will be a denture solution to suit you. There is a vast selection of removeable dentures from which to choose. Removable dentures comprise the majority of those worn today due largely to affordable cost, convenience, lack of surgical intervention and less waiting time to be made and fitted. Alternatively, dental implants offer overdentures which snap on to surgically implanted posts into the patient’s jaw.
What kinds of dentures are there?
Dentures have been a solution to missing teeth for hundreds of if not thousands of years.
Italian archaeologists claimed to have found evidence of the world’s oldest teeth. Fortunately, we have progressed since those early versions made of old human and animal teeth. In recent times dental technology is advancing at an exponential rate. This is evident in the array of denture solutions available. And if you’ve had your dentures for a while, it’s likely there are better ones on offer today. So, when patients ask, ‘what are dentures made out of today?’ oral health providers can point them toward a wide selection of materials and configurations from which to choose.
What are dentures made out of?
Dentures are made from a variety of materials which include gum coloured bases made from acrylic, flexible polyamide microcrystalline, chrome-cobalt and also a hybrid which combines two types of material. With the addition of natural-looking substitute teeth, dentures are so convincing in their aesthetic replication of human teeth, it’s almost impossible to pick a well-made denture from a set of natural teeth. In fact, very often dentures look better than the teeth they replace.
That’s not to say they look artificially perfect. Thankfully, those days are gone too. Now, new technology offers natural looking gum colours and authentically shaped and textured teeth with a graded translucency to rival natural teeth.
Why would I need dentures?
Dentures replace natural teeth which have been lost due to accident, ill health, decay, ageing or a desire for a better appearance than offered by the natural teeth you already have. But not all dentures are equal.
I’m sure people don’t go through the process of getting dentures just to leave them in a drawer. It’s crucial to research your health providers as carefully as you would if you were buying a car. A good well-fitting denture will enhance your life not only by making you look your best, but also by providing health, psychological and social benefits. If your existing denture doesn’t fit correctly or is uncomfortable to wear, it may be time to have your prosthetist check it for you.
The health benefits of having dentures
Nutrition and the pleasure of eating
Imagine how you would feel watching your friends tuck into a steak dinner or an apple when you couldn’t because you had no capacity to chew or because eating was painful. Imagine being restricted to eating soft foods because you have no dentures with which to eat anything else. People without teeth, or with old and poorly fitting dentures, tend toward lower dietary quality and avoidance of some foods thus compromising good nutritional health.
Bone loss is an inevitable consequence of missing teeth. It’s essential therefore to have dentures that fit well to slow down the process. Poorly fitting dentures or the lack of teeth can exacerbate bone loss.
Facial structural support
Teeth provide structural support for facial muscles. Without them, skin and flesh sag and hollow, making you look older than your years. Properly fitting dentures, custom-made for you, help to fill out the hollows and support the facial muscles. In some cases, dentures can fill out the wrinkles that have formed around your mouth as a result of shrinkage.
The psychological benefits of dentures
The psychological benefits of having a well-made, good-fitting denture, as opposed to remaining ‘gummy’ or without teeth, are often overlooked.
Being without teeth can affect how clear your speech is, causing you to mumble or not articulate clearly for fear of opening your mouth and revealing the gaps. Your ability to enjoy a diverse range of foods is diminished leaving you constantly feeling deprived and disappointed. Even more importantly, your confidence to smile and look your best is gone with your missing or unattractive teeth. In short, you are less than the person you feel you can be, so profoundly does lack of teeth affect your sense of identity.
The social benefits of dentures
The disadvantage of being toothless or ashamed of your teeth, can negatively impact your social life. Only someone without teeth can imagine how difficult it is to live a normal life without them. Being able to eat the food you like, enjoying meals with friends and family, are among the advantages of having dentures. Sharing meals with friends and loved ones is among life’s joys and when you can’t you are bound to feel left out. Perhaps the greatest benefit is the boost to confidence dentures give patients. Not having to speak behind your hand or avoid a full open mouth smile and laugh is perhaps the best gift dentures give.
Employment and social acceptance
Beyond one’s social life and the increased confidence dentures give those without teeth, are questions of employability and social acceptance. How often are we judged on our appearance? Just as our mothers told us, first impressions are paramount. How a person appears tells a story of who they are, what to expect from them, how they view themselves. Presenting well is crucial in a competitive job market where every small advantage counts. Even finding a partner might rely on those first appearances.
How much do dentures cost?
Affordability is no longer considered an excuse for missing teeth or having no teeth. It’s reassuring to know there is a denture for every budget. And even if your bank account looks lean to the point of starving, there are still ways and means of getting your smile back. See here for help. As we have explained, the costs to you of not having a good, well-fitting denture are far greater than sourcing payment options.
What about old dentures?
Why is it important to maintain and upgrade old dentures? While your old set of dentures may have served you well for many years, chances are having them reviewed could further enhance your quality of life. Your mouth like the rest of your body, changes as you age. Because of this, dentures that once were snug and well-fitting may be loose in your mouth or begin to rub and cause sore spots. By simply having a denture reline or adjustment, you may well recover all the benefits that applied when your dentures were new.
However, it might also be the case that a new denture is required. Seeking an opinion from your dental prosthetist is the best way to find out. Some denture clinics offer free consultations to assess and review your dentures. Even better, regular check-ups can avoid the discomfort or embarrassment of loose dentures. Heaven forbid, they should fall out in your soup!
Northern Rivers Denture Clinic is located in the heart of Tweed Heads, southern Gold Coast. Finally have the smile you deserve with handcrafted, quality dentures.