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What are Dentures?

Niki Acker
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Dentures are prosthetic teeth worn by those who have lost their natural teeth through injury or illness. There are many different types of false teeth, designed to address a variety of dental situations. Dentures may be removable or implanted, and they may replace teeth on the lower mandibular arch or the upper maxillary arch.

False teeth have been used in some form since at least the 15th century, though they have greatly improved in design since then. Early dentures were made of bone, ivory, or human teeth and, like natural teeth, could rot with extended use. They were attached to existing teeth with metal or silk string and were quite uncomfortable. The first porcelain dentures were constructed in the 1770s, and plastics became the material of choice in the 20th century.

Those who have lost their teeth find both functional and aesthetic benefits from dentures. Well-made prosthetics allow the wearer to enjoy all kinds of food, whereas missing teeth or poor dentures significantly restrict chewing ability. False teeth also support the lips and cheeks, improving the appearance of a patient who has lost his or her natural teeth.

Dentures are custom designed to fit each patient's mouth, and skill and patience are required to create an effective pair. Poorly made ones can cause significant discomfort and erode the gums and bones of the jaw, leading to greater dental problems. A combination of implants and removable pieces are often the best option.

Even well-made dentures require some getting used to. At first, the wearer often salivates excessively, as the mouth recognizes the false teeth as a foreign object, similar to food. Sucking on sugar-free candy can help alleviate this problem. The dentures may chafe or otherwise feel uncomfortable, and a few adjustments are typically necessary before they fit perfectly. A person with new dentures will also have to learn to speak and eat naturally with the new teeth.

Fortunately, most people adjust to dentures well with help from their dentist. While it is common for new teeth to feel awkward and uncomfortable simply because the wearer has not yet adjusted to them, they should not be painful. If the patient feels any pain or chafing from his dentures, he discuss the issue with his dentist immediately so that they can be readjusted.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a The Health Board editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 24, 2014

My mother-in-law had to be fitted for dentures, and I had no idea how elaborate the process could be. The dentist takes a lot of measurements and x-rays, then sends all of that information to a denture specialist, who forms molds and handcrafts a set of natural-looking dentures. The teeth in a set of dentures aren't always perfect, since they are trying to make them look as natural as possible.

My mother-in-law told me she enjoyed getting the ability to eat solid foods back. Without her teeth, she had to eat a lot of soft foods and soup, but now she eats steak and raw fruits and pizza. Her speech can be a little affected, but we can still understand her. If the adhesive fails, her dentures slip around and she gets a little self-conscious until she can fix them.

By mrwormy — On Mar 24, 2014

I was hoping to avoid getting dentures, but I developed a serious periodontal disease and most of my natural teeth have decayed as a result. My dentist said that modern dentures feel a lot more natural than those made 30 years ago, but I'm still going to know they aren't my own teeth. He said the important thing was getting a perfect fit and using the right adhesives. Many people have problems with dentures because the plates aren't anchored well.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a The Health Board editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range...
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