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Few people can say they look forward to wearing dentures someday, although many people suffer the loss of teeth as they age. Heredity, diet, and poor dental hygiene may be to blame, and tooth loss can impair speech, effect self-esteem, and lead to infections of the gum and/or loss of jawbone. There are four basic different types of dentures available: standard, removable partial, temporary, and implant retained.
While some people elect to have all of their remaining teeth removed in favor of wearing a full set of dentures, this is often not the best answer. Most dental experts recommend that people try to retain as many of their natural teeth as possible. To that end, there have been many advances made in dental cosmetics to permit integration of natural teeth, although none of them are a one-size-fits-all solution.
While appearance and comfort are certainly major factors behind which type of dentures are best for an individual, there’s more to consider. Function, for example, is of primary importance. There’s a lot to be said for a secure fit too — a person dropping his teeth into the palm of his hand is a parlor trick better left to the privacy of a bathroom. .
Standard dentures are the obvious choice for someone who has already lost all of his teeth. The fitting process begins with impressions being taken of the upper and lower gums to make a form-fitting denture plate for each. A series of follow-up appointments are necessary to make any needed adjustments. This is important to ensure a proper fit when speaking and eating, as well as when at rest.
For those who are only missing a few teeth, it may be possible to wear a type of removable partial dentures (RPD). They are made with deliberately placed holes in them to allow stable natural teeth to push through. In fact, the surrounding natural teeth provide support and security for this type of denture fitting. They work best on the upper jaw.
Immediate, or temporary dentures, are another type of RPD, although this type often becomes permanent for some people. They are made before the natural teeth have been extracted. Once the loose or decaying teeth in question are removed, the partial is placed over the recovering gums. Often, wire is used to connect it to the nearby natural teeth, providing additional support. This type of partial denture is sometimes referred to as a flipper.
Implant retained dentures are the most durable and permanent type, and they’re also the most expensive. Implants involve placing a titanium screw into the pre-drilled gum, where it will bond to the underlying bone over the course of a few months. At this point, a post is attached to the implant to which a porcelain tooth may be affixed. Implants are an option for people who have difficulty wearing lower dentures.