Dentures are a treatment of last resort for those that have lost most or all of their teeth. Tooth loss is not a normal part of aging, and can be avoided by practicing proper dental hygiene. When a patient suffers from missing teeth, full or partial dentures can help replace lost function.
Dentures provide several benefits to edentulous patients:
- Mastication – increased ability to eat and chew
- Aesthetics – improve natural facial appearance, and support structure of the face and mouth
- Pronunciation – improve ability to speak, especially words containing fricatives and sibilants
- Self-Esteem – removes the self consciousness associated with missing teeth
Dentures: Important Terms
When considering dentures, patients should be familiar with some of the important concepts dealing with how dentures function.
The principle of support describes how well oral tissues, such as the gums, keep the dentures from moving. It is important that dentures not move vertically, and become excessively depressed by going deep into the arch. Support of dentures is provided by the gums, buccal shelf, palate and maxillary arch all working together. Typically larger denture flanges will increase support of the prosthesis.
Stability describes just how effectively the denture is prevented from moving horizontally, or from front to back and side to side. The greater amount of continuous and smooth contact between the denture base and the oral ridge, the better the stability. With a higher and broader gum ridge, denture stability is increased. This is a major factor in the need for ridge preservation through techniques like bone grafting.
Retention describes the denture being prevented from moving vertically, opposite from the direction of insertion. The more contact between the denture’s surface area and the underlying gums, the better the retention. Surface tension, friction and suction all work together to help keep the dentures from breaking contact with the surface of the gums. The important element in denture retention is the border seal resulting in suction.
Implant Technology and Dentures
Implant technology can boost support, stability and retention of the dentures, while increasing the strength and mass of bone structure. For implantation to be possible the patient must have sufficient bone structure to support the implant. Implant options include titanium implant posts and precision locator attachments.
Video Education: Dental Options for Edentulous Patients