What you don’t know can hurt you
After having dental work done, some patients lament ‘my denture doesn’t fit as it did before’. This is a timely reminder to be aware that any changes made in your mouth by your dentist will impact on your dentures.
If you’re thinking of having major dental work done, ideally it’s better to do so before having your denture made. This is because it’s far easier to get an optimal, final fit. Impressions taken of your mouth to use in the manufacture of your denture will more correctly reflect the final mouth topography. If, however, you have an existing denture then read on.
The possible scenarios
Perhaps you’ve had a tooth removed that was retaining your partial denture. It’s likely the clasp that secured your denture in place relied on the now-extracted tooth.
Or, maybe you’ve had a filling that has changed your mouth in some way, enough to cause disruption of your partial denture, compromising its once snug fit.
What if you’re having a crown made that’s adjacent to your existing partial denture.
So what to do?
The truth of the matter is, whenever the topography of your mouth is changed, it will affect the way your partial denture fits.
A little forethought can avoid costly problems
If you are pre-warned, issues such as these are easily overcome. But communication and being informed is key.
Ideally, you will endeavour to have any major dental work completed before having a new denture made. But suppose you have an existing denture and you need major dental work?
When you consult with your dentist about your upcoming dental work, he or she will give you a detailed treatment plan. At this point, making an appointment to see your prosthetist can not only potentially save you money, but also the inconvenience of enduring a denture that no longer fits properly.
Sharing your treatment plan with the prosthetist will allow him or her to assess the possible impact of the dental work on your denture. He can make suggestions on how to minimise the negative impact dental work may potentially have on your denture’s fit.
This may mean having impressions of your mouth made with your existing chrome or flexible denture in place.
Sending your denture off to the crown and bridge lab while they make the crown ensures they can achieve a greater level of accuracy on how well it fits. Of course, as any denture wearer knows, ‘fit’ is synonymous with comfort and confidence.
First, shut the proverbial gate
Planning ahead is a preferable course of action to having your dentist attempt adjustments after the fact – after the horse has already bolted. It can be an expensive exercise if, in addition to paying for major dental work, you fail to consider the impact of dental work on your existing denture. This could result in you having to get a new one.
Dental work that can change the way your denture fits
- Tooth extractions
- Crown or bridge
If the clasp of a partial denture relies on a tooth that has to be extracted, the clasp may need to be removed or moved.
Fillings, if performed without considering your existing denture, can alter the way it fits.
Crown, bridge and implant work change the topography of the mouth and in the case of the latter, the jaw. All of which have varying implications for your dentures.
New crown work and your partial denture
In the case of a new crown, sending your denture to the crown and bridge laboratory along with the crown preparation will allow the technician to construct the crown to fit around the denture. You may be without your denture for up to a couple of weeks. However, this is not only a cost-effective solution, but also avoids the need for post–dental–work adjustments to ensure a proper fit between the crown and the denture.
Modifications and adjustments to chrome and acrylic dentures
Although not ideal, chrome partial dentures can withstand small adjustments like bending the clasps that secure it, to accommodate changes to your dental situation. However, it’s important to be aware there is a limited number of times clasps can be bent to fit without snapping. They may not fail immediately but could be weakened to a point where they break prematurely in the future.
Modifying chrome dentures is possible. While the design of most chrome dentures doesn’t allow for modification, in some cases, your prosthetist may be able to make allowance for a new tooth be added. However, this is costly, requiring your denture being sent to a chrome lab to be welded.
Acrylic dentures can generally be adjusted as well as modified. This makes an acrylic denture a good choice if you plan to have major dental work in the future. Ideally, a new denture should be made after major dental work. However, in the event this is not an option, acrylic dentures can be modified within a reasonable margin although an optimal fit may not be achieved.
Most flexible dentures can’t be modified or adjusted, but rather must be remade.
When rocking isn’t how you want to roll
While the dentist may have adjusted a denture to fit with the new work, patients commonly complain it’s no longer stable in their mouths. The denture ‘rocks’ back and forth and traps food when chewing. Remember, if the dentist adjusts your denture which results in it breaking or altering the fit, then it is the dentist’s responsibility to correct the situation.
Once your denture has been altered by another party, your prosthetist will charge for any further repairs or corrections. A rocking denture is difficult to remedy and indicates the mouth anatomy has been significantly changed. Most rocking chrome, acrylic or flexible dentures need to be replaced.
Emergency dental work and your partial denture
Imagine this: you’re in the dentist’s chair being advised you need emergency dental work. There’s no time for treatment plans so you must decide on the spot. You’d like to make a quick call to your prosthetist for advice on the impact such work may have on your denture. But you feel awkward doing so in the face of your dentists’ assurances your denture will not be affected.
Remember, it’s your mouth and your pocket that’s affected.
You are entitled to an opinion from the professional who made and knows your denture best in order to avoid unnecessary expense and inconvenience. Your dentist isn’t always fully aware of the implications for your denture. Taking this action also provides an opportunity for the two oral health practitioners to collaborate on the best result for you.
A final word
A little forward planning will save you money and inconvenience when it comes to your denture.
- Make sure to have any major dental work completed before getting a new denture made.
- Take your dental treatment plan to your prosthetist before having dental work done.
- Making a call to your prosthetist from the dentist’s chair before committing to emergency dental work could save you financial pain.
- If you have an existing partial denture, see your prosthetist prior to your dental work. There may be more cost-effective ways of accomplishing a well-fitting denture without the negative consequences of trying to fix problems after the fact.
- Ask your oral health provider questions like how proceeding with proposed dental-work will impact on your denture.
- Be informed about your rights as a patient. If the dentist adjusts your denture, it becomes their responsibility if it breaks or if it no longer fits correctly. This possibility can be averted by seeking your prosthetist’s advice on how to prepare prior to work being done.
- Once the denture has been tampered with by a person other than the one who manufactured it, the patient has no claim on the manufacturer and must bear the cost of replacement or repairs if it breaks.