A good smile can boost your self-esteem and enhance your health, so losing your natural teeth can be devastating. Unfortunately, about three out of five people ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. In fact, some of us lose most or all of our teeth because of decay, gum disease, or injuries.
Luckily, modern dentures that replace lost teeth look more natural and feel more comfortable than the dentures your grandparents may have used.
Whether you’ve lost some or all of your teeth, your dentist can provide removable dentures that can restore your smile and improve your health. Here are some of the options:
- Conventional complete dentures. To cover the full upper and lower jaws, the dentist first removes any remaining natural teeth. After your tissues heal, which may take several months, the dentist creates a custom set of dentures that fits your mouth.
- Immediate complete dentures. Your dentist takes measurements and create models of your jaws during an initial visit. This way, you can wear complete dentures as soon as your dentist removes any remaining teeth. Immediate dentures, however, may need refitting because bones and gums can shrink once the dentist removes your teeth.
- Partial dentures. These appliances may be a good choice if you’re missing just a few teeth. The dentist attaches partial dentures to your natural teeth with small metal clasps or other devices that are less visible.
- Over dentures. Dentists may recommend these if you have a few natural teeth or dental implants. Over dentures fit over those teeth or may be held in place by implants attached to the jawbone.
Dentures can help you look and feel better, but you may reap other benefits as well. For example, dentures can:
- Keep other teeth from shifting
- Make it easier for you to chew
- Enhance your speech
- Support the muscles in your face
What to Expect
It may take some time to get used to dentures. You may need to practice eating and speaking with them. To master meals, start with soft foods, cut them into small pieces, and chew slowly. To improve your speech, read aloud and repeat words you find difficult.
If you have dentures, make sure you visit your dentist regularly. The dentist may need to adjust or replace your dentures because of normal wear or changes in your mouth.