For most patients, there are options when deciding to replace missing teeth with dentures. There are removable dentures, partial dentures, and implant dentures. A few factors need to be considered for making the right choice for a patient. The condition of gums and existing teeth will be the initial deciding factor and then we will discuss the pros and cons of the options that are available to the patient.
Let’s start by describing each type of denture: removable dentures, partial dentures, and implant dentures.
Dr. John Vitale: Well, removable dentures are placed in people’s mouths when people have no teeth. Either top or bottom or both. The retention with a denture would be solely dependent on saliva and the borders of a person’s mouth because there are no tooth structures or substructures to hold these appliances in.
Removable partials are a little different in that generally when partials are placed, there are some existing teeth and so your partial denture would have wires and clasps that would surround or encompass some of the remaining teeth. That would aid in retention.
Implant dentures are a totally different animal. Implant dentures are if you took the conventional denture and you attach to it receptacles inside the denture and placed implants in the patient’s mouths when they have no teeth, there would be a male and a female attachment. What would happen is, when you would place the implant denture in the mouth, the male attachment would snap into the female attachment and you would get retention.
Is the condition of the existing surrounding teeth and gums factors into a decision to get implants or dentures?
Dr. John Vitale: It certainly is. If people present themselves with really bad teeth and gums with a lot of inflammation and a lot of bone loss, then obviously implants are not the method to restore the mouth. Implant dentures might be but certainly not implants themselves. If the gum tissue is really good and the teeth surrounding them are good, then you could do an implant denture or an implant partial where you would place an implant in the mouth and then on top of that, create an implant partial that would snap in place.
Is cost usually a determining factor when choosing dentures or implants?
Dr. John Vitale: There is a significant cost difference between an implant denture and a conventional denture. Probably five times the cost for an implant denture, but the longevity of the implant denture and the other factors surrounding the placement of an implant denture make it a very, very suitable appliance for a person to wear.
Do removable dentures last for a long time or do they need to be replaced and fixed often?
Dr. John Vitale: Removable dentures generally last five to seven years, and they should be realigned probably every two years. Because just like the rest of the body, your mouth loses and gains weight over time and so the fit that you received when your denture was placed is not really the fit that you have two years later.
If kids lose their adult teeth, can they get implants or do they have to wait until they are fully grown?
Dr. John Vitale: Well, they don’t have to wait until they are 18, but yes, they do have to wait until probably their teenage years so that they have full bone formation in their mouth, and both their maxilla and their mandible, upper and lower jaws, have finished developing.
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