Permanent dentures – the Who’s, What’s and Why’s

The first thing that crosses your mind when you hear the word “dentures” would be the image of your gummy grandfather with his fake set of teeth. However with the advancement of today’s technology, anyone can get a denture when necessary and it is not only limited to old people. Dentures are actually part of fixed prosthodontics (placement of artificial devices in the mouth) and they can be removable dentures or fixed dentures (permanent dentures).

What are permanent dentures?

They are artificial substitutes that are not readily removable from the mouth and are used to replace and restore teeth for better aesthetics, comfort and function. A poor, unattractive dentition can be transformed into a comfortable, functional dentition that can last for years to come. Permanent dentures would include fixed dental prosthesis and implant-supported prosthesis.

What are fixed dental prosthesis?

They are also known as dental bridges whereby the missing tooth is replaced by a prosthetic one made out of metal or porcelain which is then connected to the adjacent healthy teeth.

What about denture implants?

Dental implants can be used for single or multiple missing teeth whereby titanium cylinders are painlessly drilled into the jaw bone and a denture is attached onto it. The dental implant surgery requires two stages and depending on the site, requires 3-6 months for bone to heal initially. Then in the second stage, the implant is uncovered and screwed into place. The continued high rates of success achieved with implants allow people to enjoy the benefits of it.

Why should I get dental implants?

The dental implant surgery is an in-office procedure and it has a high documented success rate. You will also get to experience psychological benefit of closely resembling real teeth and dentures will wear out less quickly compared to the regular ones.

Who are eligible for dental implants?

Implants are indicated for those who cannot wear removable dentures, those who have unfavorable number and location of supporting teeth and for those with single tooth loss. Age is not a deciding factor. However, implants are contraindicated for those having severe illness, pregnant, having uncontrolled metabolic disease (like diabetes) and for those who have improper motivation and unrealistic expectations. You have to understand that even though your dentition has been restored, it is unlike the original and complications can happen if you do not practice proper oral hygiene.

Are there any problems with dental implants?

First, you have to be aware that there will be no immediate results after the surgery due to the time period for the bone to heal as mentioned above therefore making it a time-consuming procedure. Furthermore implants can be costly, reaching up to a few thousand dollars so it is a major investment with some risks involved.  There may be bone loss involved or loosening of screws post-operative but be rest-assured that it does not happen for every case. Dental implant surgery is the same as in any other surgery therefore it is best if you find a well-credited cosmetic dentist to perform the procedure for you.

How do I go about getting permanent dentures?

You can visit your regular dentist for consultation on this matter. Your dentist will first go through a history and clinical examination to see whether you are suitable for one. Good communication with your dentist is important to relay your concerns and expectations. A diagnostic cast of your teeth will be made for reference and there will be further appointments for try-ins and fine-tunings. After the dentures are made, the dentist will advise you on the proper care of the denture as well as your mouth for better results. You will then be recalled visit three months later to check on your dentures condition.

How much will the permanent dentures cost?

The cost of dentures will depend on the condition of your mouth as well as the number of missing teeth. A dental bridge would cost less than a dental implant and prices would vary from dentist to dentist. Be reminded that dental implants are a surgical procedure therefore it may cost up to thousands of dollars.

In conclusion, permanent dentures are an alternative choice for replacing and restoring teeth that can offer exceptional satisfaction for both you and your dentist. Before making your decision, it is wise to consult with your dentist beforehand and understand what procedures will lay ahead.

Article source: Rosenstiel, Land & Fujimoto. Contemporary Fixed Prosthodontics, 4th edition. Elsevier Publishing.

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