Dentures are removable replacements for your natural teeth and gums. There are essentially two categories called partial and complete (full) dentures. Partial dentures are made when a person still has some teeth in the arch, and they can replace one or more teeth. Complete dentures are made when the entire upper or lower jaw is missing all of the teeth. Both types of dentures are made from either dental acrylic (a type of plastic) or a combination of acrylic and metal.
Dentures may look like natural teeth, but they do not function like them. Some of the most common problems with dentures are that they tend to move in the mouth, especially while eating or talking which can be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Speech can be affected due to the thickness and foreignness of the denture. Dentures also collect and trap food, and for some people dentures stimulate their gag reflex.
The sense of taste and texture of foods are affected by dentures which decreases the enjoyment of foods. Foods that are hard or chewy can be difficult to eat as bite force and ability to cut through foods is decreased. Studies have shown that people with a denture do not chew their food properly and swallow larger bits of food. Not only does this diminish one’s enjoyment of food, it also puts a greater burden on the digestive system.
Without the stimulation from natural tooth roots down inside the bone, the bone underneath the denture atrophies and shrinks over time causing the denture to become loose and less stable. And a loose denture puts uneven pressure on areas inside the mouth making the denture even more uncomfortable or painful.
For patients with one, several, or a mouthful or missing teeth, dental implants are the next best thing to having natural teeth. Implants can be used to support single porcelain crowns, multiple tooth bridges, or full mouth dentures. A denture that is either supported by or is fixed to implants is much more stable in the mouth, and chewing power is increased while discomfort is greatly reduced and, in most cases, eliminated. So if it is too late to maintain your natural teeth, talk with your dentist to see if implants are an option for you.