Thirty years ago, it was a common dental practice for dentists to replace missing teeth with full or partial dentures. Dentists believed (and still do) that missing teeth needed to be replaced to ensure proper chewing function. They recognized that missing teeth could contribute to malnourishment, self-esteem issues and speech difficulties.
At the very least, you do need to replace missing teeth for just the reasons mentioned above.
Dentures are not the only option for replacing missing teeth (see our discussions of dental implants, dental bridges, and general dentistry for other options), but if you are debating whether to receive dentures, or forego replacing missing teeth at all, the answer to the above question is, yes…you do really need dentures.
Dentures are usually made out of plastic and the crowns out of porcelain. They are designed to sit on top of the gum, or can be supported by or suspended between existing teeth. There are several main downsides to dentures, however.
Because the dentures actually sit on top of the gum, over time the gum and supporting bone can wear away, leading to ill-fitting and ill-performing dentures and by extension the malnourishment issue mentioned earlier. And, while dentures were fabricated to look as much as possible like natural gum and teeth, it was in most cases very obvious that someone was wearing dentures, resulting in, by extension, associated self-esteem issues and speech issues, related to air being caught underneath the denture.
Also, in the case of partial dentures that are supported by adjacent teeth, the supporting teeth—even if there is nothing dentally wrong with them—must be root canaled and the crowns ground down so that the pontic can be attached. An artificial crown will then be placed.
But dentistry technology has come a long way in 30 years, particularly since the introduction of P.I. Bränemark’s titanium dental implant. Those patients who have had dentures or will be candidates for dentures in the future have the option of having an implant-based restoration. Implant-based restorations preserve bone and gum height, look and perform more like natural teeth, and can provide support for a partial denture or bridge.
So if you have had a denture for a long time, or are considering having your teeth replaced by a full or partial denture, come in an talk to us about an implant-based alternative. Properly integrated, implants have an over 95% success rate and can last 30 years or more, where as a conventional denture may last only 15 years and can ultimately undermine the health of dental structures like bone and gums.
Each patient will receive a custom-designed treatment plan that takes their individual dental circumstances into account. Dental implants have become the treatment of choice for dentists looking to replace missing teeth. Talk to one of the Dental Partners of Brookline to see if dental implants might be a treatment option in your case.