Missing Teeth? Implants or Dentures?
A Conversation with Prosthodontist Dr. Yueh-Tzu Huang
Almost anyone who is missing a single or multiple teeth are in need for either dental implants or dentures, either fixed or removable. Although dental implants are the standard for missing teeth replacement, in circumstances such as having insufficient bone structure, fixed or removable dentures can become a more suitable alternative. After a comprehensive examination, a prosthodontist can advise you which treatment is best for you. Prosthodontics is a dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance, and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth.
What can Dentures do?
Removable dentures may replace all or only some of the teeth. The type of removable dentures that replace all the teeth are known as complete dentures and they rest on the gums that cover the jawbones. The stability and retention of these dentures can be improved by attaching them to dental implants. Removable dentures that replace some but not all of the teeth are known as partial dentures. They attach to the teeth that are still present and also cover and rest on the gums and bone where the teeth are missing. Dental implants can also be used to restore and stabilize partial dentures as well.
Can I eat Normally with Dentures?
Most patients need to learn how to use removable dentures properly, and it takes a little time to get used to them. After a while, you should be able to eat fairly normally, but it may take more time to get comfortable with harder foods or sticky foods. Don't worry, we will accompany you while you learn how to get comfortable with them and may make the learning process easier.
What if I don't do anything about my Missing Teeth?
When you lose a tooth, nearby teeth will begin to drift into the empty space. The teeth on the opposite jaw will also begin to shift up or down toward the missing space. Teeth that have drifted will be more prone to decay and gum disease. When a tooth is missing, the surrounding jawbone that supports the lips and cheeks will begin to shrink and will cause the face to sag and will make you look older prematurely. The combination of missing teeth and reduced jaw bone will make your face look wrinkly, and your cheeks will appear hollow and saggy, since they can no longer support your lips and cheeks from the inside. This can negatively influence your daily life because even though it may be inside your mouth and not visible from the outside, over time it will start to affect your appearance, self-esteem, your oral health and even your health in general.
Where do I Start? Who is a Prosthodontist and How are they different?
The best starting point to see if removable dentures are an option for you is to see a prosthodontist. A prosthodontist is a specialist with an additional three years of advanced training after dental school who focuses on the restoration and replacement of missing teeth and/or tooth structure, including even the most complex cases. A prosthodontist also will be able to help determine if another treatment option might be more suited to your particular situation. While many other dentists can do some of these treatments, prosthodontists are the specialists dedicated to this type of care. Extra years of rigorous training and experience give prosthodontists a special understanding of the dynamics of a smile and the preservation of a healthy mouth.
Information Source: American College of Prosthodontists, Dear Doctor Dentistry & Oral Health