Dentures are removable prosthetic appliances made in dental offices and used to replace missing teeth in a patient's mouth. Because dentures are not the natural dentition, the wearer may experience some difficulties throughout the life of the denture. Many of the difficulties resolve on their own when the patient becomes used to the dentures. Other difficulties require dental professional intervention to resolve.
Partial and Full Upper and Lower Dentures
Dentures to replace missing teeth come in two styles. Partial dentures are constructed with a metal framework replacing anywhere from one to 12 missing teeth. The framework sits on the gums where the missing teeth are, holding acrylic saddles with realistic looking teeth moulded into them. These dentures stay in place with metal loops called clasps that fit onto the remaining anchor teeth. Full upper or lower denture construction is of acrylic with the teeth moulded into it. They sit on the ridge of bone remaining in the mouth after the loss or removal of all teeth. The making of full dentures are either routine, meaning the patient has no teeth and has worn a denture previously, or it can be what is called an immediate denture. An immediate denture calls for the teeth to be removed and the new denture placed in the mouth immediately, right over the top of the extraction sites.
A new denture, whether full or partial, often feels strange to the patient. The denture wearer may experience difficulty speaking and find themselves hyper salivating because of the bulkiness they feel. Pronunciation of words may be difficult, especially words with the letter "S," such as "Mississippi" and "Sixty-Six." The patient may have difficulty placing the tongue in the proper place as it learns to accommodate the new denture. In a veteran denture wearer, speech problems can include the denture teeth clicking when speaking. This could indicate that the denture no longer fits properly. Although excess saliva is the norm, a dry mouth can also be caused by a denture, creating difficulty in the patient's speech.
Biting and Chewing Difficulties
Bite difficulties for new denture wearers include high spots on the teeth, which cause only certain teeth to come together when chewing. High spots can cause pain in the gums in the areas directly underneath the denture. If this occurs, a dentist will need to check and adjust the bite. To do so, the dentist has the patient bite on carbon paper before adjusting the areas on the surface of the dentures that are left with the darkest blue marks. Adjustments are made with a drill. Open sores under the denture on the gums, called "sore spots," result from acrylic that is too thick in some places. Sore spots can be extremely painful and become so severe that the patient is unable to wear the denture. Adjustment by a dentist is required to reduce the acrylic in the painful areas and polish the adjusted acrylic to smooth out any roughness. These adjustments are particularly common in immediate dentures. Upper denture wearers may experience a gag reflex as a result of the denture extending too far into the soft palate. This can be remedied with an adjustment by a dentist.
Difficulties Keeping Dentures Secured
Denture patients can have difficulties with the way the dentures fit. In a partial denture patient, an appliance that is too tight around the supporting teeth can damage them. A partial that is loose can unexpectedly pop up while chewing or speaking. A dentist can adjust the chrome clasps with special pliers to tighten or loosen the clasps holding the abutment teeth. Looseness In full dentures, which can sometimes be extreme, is a result of the shrinkage of supporting bone over time. Many people solve this with over-the-counter denture adhesives. Eventually, a denture, especially an immediate denture, will need a "reline." This is usually a same-day procedure done using a patient's denture as a tray and taking new impressions of the gums. The denture is sent to a dental laboratory and the inner acrylic is built up to fill in gaps caused by shrinkage of the bone and gums. This procedure is also done to improve partial denture fit.