For most of us the loss of a tooth is not disturbing. The tooth might have had a cavity or become shaky and then the pain made us rush to the dentist. By that time, it was too late. Nature comes to the rescue and manages with the loss. The chewing pattern is adjusted and after a while, you get used to it, skilfully maneuvering the food to sections of the jaw that are most efficient. Now the problem increases when more than one tooth is lost. It starts getting difficult to chew and it takes longer to finish a meal. Not to mention that the missing teeth are now beginning to show when you smile widely and there is the slightest ever sag in the cheek and lip. Back to the dental clinic, where you seek a solution to be able to eat and perhaps look better. From the many choices you settle for a partial denture to fill the gaps left by the extracted teeth. What is denture?

Removable partial or complete dentures are made of acrylic resin and are very simple to make. A few sessions to take a mould and a trial, and the “denture” is ready. This type of tooth replacement is easily the most economical and most widely used option, especially in our country. Simple? Not so simple. The denture rests completely on the gum and covers a lot of area in the mouth.

When it is an upper denture it closes the palate, blocking out taste and the temperature of food. When it is a lower denture it cramps the tongue to rest on the lower front teeth, hindering speech. The denture sinks down onto the gums when chewing often causing discomfort and pain. A few hooks called clasps hold on to the adjacent teeth to prevent movement and for support. These clasps move against the teeth and cause friction and discomfort. You will need to take them out after every meal to clean food trapped underneath. Then you may ask, why does the dentist suggest these at all? These dentures are at best an interim measure and certainly not a long term solution. Artificial teeth need to be firmly grounded in a metal base if they are to be successful. The best option would be to firmly secure supports in the jaw bone in which the artificial teeth are immovably fixed.

If you are a denture wearer, an understanding of the very nature of the material – acrylic resin – would help maintain these removable units hygienically. They need to be washed regularly with a cleansing powder or lotion and then immersed in water when not in use. Dropping them would be sometimes disastrous. It would also be wise to remove them every night to avoid continuous pressure and subsequent further shrinking of the gums. When there is much inconvenience it is good to rethink your choice for getting a comfortable situation so that you can enjoy a hearty meal without worrying about balancing removable dentures!

October 17, 2014