What are dentures and dental implants?
Dentures and dental implants are devices that replace natural teeth that have been lost due to gum disease, tooth decay, or injury. Dentures, or false teeth as they are commonly called, can be easily removed and reinserted. In contrast, dental implants are permanent.
In the past, dentures were the most common dental prostheses, but with the advent of new materials, dental implants are now often preferred. A dental implant consists of a metal base that is inserted into or onto the jaw-bone, and a protruding stump, which is outfitted with an artificial tooth. The material used is usually an alloy containing titanium or another harmless, inert metal.
What causes dentures and dental implants?
Dentures and dental implants most often are the end
- Loosening or shifting of the teeth.
- Inflamed gums that bleed easily.
- Receding gums that ex pose the tooth root.
- Bad breath, resulting from extensive tooth decay.
result of progressive gum (periodontal) disease. This disease is caused by a buildup of dental plaque — a sticky substance that harbors bacteria. If the plaque is not removed regularly by proper brushing and flossing of the teeth, the bacteria that normally inhabit the mouth multiply and form pockets under the gums. Eventually this leads to inflammation and erosion of the bony structure in which the teeth are anchored.
In addition to poor oral hygiene, other causes of gum disease and tooth loss include smoking, certain salivary gland disorders, radiation treatments for mouth or throat cancer, and malocclusion, in which the teeth do not meet properly.
How is the need for dentures and dental implants diagnosed and treated?
A dentist usually can assess the need for dentures or implants simply by inspecting a patient's mouth. Loose or missing teeth, advanced periodontal disease, or dental cavities that are beyond the stage where they can be filled indicate the need for dentures or implants.
What can I do myself?
At one time, it was thought that tooth loss was an inevitable part of aging. Research has shown, however, that most dental disease is due to poor oral hygiene. Ask a dentist or dental hygienist about proper techniques for brushing and flossing, and see a dentist regularly for checkups.
When should I see my dentist?
You should see a dentist for an oral examination and professional tooth cleaning at least once a year, and more often if gum disease or other dental problems exist.
What will the dentist do?
If the teeth cannot be saved, they are removed. After removing the teeth, the dentist usually waits several months until the gums heal, shrink, and change shape. Then he or she prepares a set of dentures to replace all the teeth in the mouth.
To fit the dentures, the dentist makes impressions of the patient's gums and fills them with plaster. The hardened model is used to create the baseplate. Afterwards, artificial teeth are positioned on the baseplate and adjusted for bite and appearance.
Dental implants were once used mostly to replace only single teeth, but today they have been used successfully to replace all the teeth. To insert the implant, the dentist anesthetizes the gums and makes an incision in the gum tissue to expose the underlying bone. The implant can be attached to the bone in several ways, depending on its shape and the condition of the bone.
The course of dentures and dental implants
Neither dentures nor dental implants function as well as the natural teeth. When dentures are first fitted, a patient may experience inconvenience, excessive saliva flow, difficulty eating and speaking, and a bulky feeling in the mouth. These problems usually disappear with time. Since the shape of the gums changes over time, dentures usually have to be replaced periodically. Dental implants are more convenient than dentures and require no special care other than brushing. Even so, a dentist must be seen periodically to check the underlying bone.
Are dentures and dental implants dangerous?
They are not dangerous, but they can create problems. For example, poorly fitted dentures often rub against the gums, creating painful raw spots. Dental implants involve a certain risk of bone infection.
What can I do to a void dentures and dental implants?
- Brush and floss the teeth at least once a day.
- Limit sweets to meals and be sure to brush the teeth afterwards.
- If you live in an area in which water does not contain fluoride, talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments or supplements.
- Teach children good oral hygiene at an early age. Babies should not be allowed to fall asleep sucking a bottle of milk or juice, which may lead to rapid decay of the baby teeth.