Options for Dentures and Implants
The use of dentures is much less common today due to improvements in personal oral health and accessibility of dental care. While around 95% of adults aged 20 – 79 years have experienced some dental decay, in most cases the teeth are treated early enough that extraction is not needed. Approximately 80% of Canadians have had at least one filling done in their lifetime. Although preventative care and early restorative treatments are much more common these days, dental implants and dentures are still used when needed to replace missing teeth that have been extracted or damaged.
What are Dental Implants?
For patients that have a healthy jaw and gums, the preferred option to replace one or more missing teeth is dental implants. An implant is an artificial tooth that is attached to an anchor rooted in the jaw. It feels the most like a natural tooth and can last 20 years or longer with good oral care. Implants can be an option even when several teeth need to be replaced because two or more implants can be used to support a bridge of artificial teeth.
To see if you qualify for an implant, your family dentist will perform an exam with x-rays. Next, a dental implant is placed into your jawbone beneath the gum tissue. While the tissue heals, the anchor bonds with the bone. The titanium anchor is lightweight, strong, and biocompatible, which means it is not rejected by the body. The anchor also helps preserve jaw structure. After the implant is anchored, a small post is added to connect the artificial tooth.
Types of Dentures
Dentures have improved in quality over the years and are a good option if all or many of the teeth are missing, or if the jaw cannot support implants. The downside of dentures is that since they are removeable they can slip out of place, become uncomfortable, or cause difficulties with eating certain foods. In some cases, dentures can lead to infection if they aren’t fitted well.
Partial dentures are secured using clasps that fit onto nearby natural teeth. Adjacent teeth may need to be ground down to support the bridge, which can make the adjacent teeth more susceptible to decay if not cared for properly. Some of the bone that previously surrounded the teeth can also start to deteriorate. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing. They are made from a mold of the gums and are held in place by suction. They can cause soreness and discomfort, especially at first.
Caring for Dentures
Like natural teeth, dentures need to be cleaned daily to avoid tartar build up, gum disease, bad breath, and discolouration. Removeable dentures should be rinsed and then brushed with denture cleaner and a soft brush. Regular toothpaste is too abrasive for dentures. Soak dentures overnight in warm water or a denture cleanser to give your gums a rest. You can also gently clean your gums with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Have your dentures regularly checked for proper fit and any cracks or damage.
The best teeth are natural teeth so preventative care, regular dental exams, and early treatments are the first things your dentist will recommend. If a tooth is damaged or lost, it’s best to replace it with an implant as soon as possible to prevent the surrounding teeth from drifting out of alignment. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, making gum disease and cavities more likely. If you have one or more missing or damaged teeth, speak to your family dentist to confirm the best treatment option to meet your needs.