A denture replaces teeth that have been lost through decay or gum disease. A denture has a plate of metal or plastic which holds the teeth in position.

A denture has several standard components;

This may be in acrylic(plastic) or metal(chrome). Acrylic is weaker but lighter and easier and cheaper to make. Metal bases are usually used in mouths where there are still some standing teeth but on occasion they may be used in the upper jaw if a patient continually breaks the denture due to biting hard with intact lower teeth..

The dentist should consult you when choosing teeth for your denture. Teeth vary in several ways, the most important for you to consider are

Shade Colour : many people request the whitest shade available as it is assumed that 'healthy' teeth are white. Even the secondary dentition of children is rarely white.

The Shape : the appearance of a teeth can be altered by changing the shape of the teeth. Square shaped teeth suit men better while rounded, small teeth suit ladies.

What keeps your denture in place.

The upper denture is held in placeby suction with the palate. The saliva helps this in the same way that a childrens rubber suction cup works. Persons with dry mouths often have problems holding their dentures in place as there is little saliva.

The lower denture is held in place by gravity and the muscles of the tongue and cheeks. Older persons tend to have problems with lower dentures as their mucles are weaker and cheeks slacker, this reduces the force which can hold the denture in place. The ridge which the denture sits on is reduces in size with age and provides less of a grip for the denture.

The Post Dam

Most dentures have a ridge along the back which presses slightly into the palate, this form a seal so that the denture acts like a sucker. The concept is similiar to that of a sink plunger or a childs dart with suction cup.

Before having any teeth extracted be sure that they cannot be saved. Many patients in pain request immediate extraction of the tooth in question only to regret it later.

Dentures are NOT ideal, infact persons requiring dentures are classified as handicapped according to the World Health Association.

A denture ia a foreign body and will cause your mouth to produce lots of saliva as if food were present in the mouth. This normally only lasts several hours.

Our palates are covered in tiny taste buds besides the ones on our tongues. An upper denture covers these so food has less taste and the 'heat' of the food is felt to a lesser degree

Teeth are set in bone while dentures sit on the gums. Chewing certain foods such as steak may be very difficult. Habits such as shelling nuts or biting ones nails may also be interrupted, to some patients this can ebquite disconcerting.

When first using a new pair of dentures your speech maybe affected as many sounds are made by placing the tongue or bottom lip against your teeth. With new dentures your teeth maybe in a new and different position and it will take a few days until you learn where they are. Speech is basically a learnt reflex which is carried out subconciously by the lower parts of your brain.

My speech is different since I got the new denture!

When we speak we use our tongue to form the sounds, several of these involve the front teeth being in contact with the tongue. If the tongue cannot make the correct contact a lisp or whistle may occur which is embarassing to the patient.

A new denture may have the front teeth in a slightly different position, it will take time for your tongue to learn where the teeth are. This tends to take longer in older individuals and in some cases the patient may never adapt to the new denture because the change is too great.

My dentures rock when I eat!

If the denture doesn't sit properly in your mouth it will rock when you eat. A denture may also rock if the biting contacts are uneven as one side will touch first and dig in. After a while this may form a sore on the gum which may make eating painful. A simple adjustment to the teeth at the dentist should correct this.

My denture doesn't feel tight anymore!

Dentures may become loose after a year or so, a denture supplied just after teeth have been extracted may even become loose after just a month. The reason for this is that the bone underneath the denture is gradually resorbing. This technical term basically means that the bone is shrinking away with time.