Dentures: When do they become necessary?

Dentures is the collective term for any form of replacement of missing natural teeth.

It is important to know that missing teeth not only negatively impact a person’s appearance, but it also leads to other problems such as loss of function, reduced ability to chew and even speech impediments. The loss of one tooth implies a tooth gap, which leads to disproportionate pressure on the remaining teeth. This can ultimately affect the whole periodontal apparatus. If several teeth are affected, food can no longer be sufficiently chewed and grinded, so that even nutrition intake may suffer, because some essential nutrients cannot be digested when they are swallowed in large chunks.

The answer to the question of getting dentures or not, is quite simple: lost and missing teeth should always be replaced! Exceptions are wisdom teeth and teeth extracted by the dentist in rare cases when the jaw is exceedingly narrow.

Which types of dentures are there?

Dentures are basically divided into fixed prostheses (crowns, partial crowns, bridges, implants), removable dentures (dentures and partial dentures) and combined dentures (a combination of fixed and removable parts). Among other factors the type of prosthesis you need is mostly determined by the size of the gap.

Fixed prosthesis – What you should know beforehand:

As the name suggests, fixed prostheses have to be firmly anchored into the mouth by a dentist. Depending on the case, this might be a single crown or anything up to a complex, large-span bridge for an entire jaw. It is important to check the condition of existing healthy teeth: you need enough anchorage.

Bridges, the classic option

Seitenzahnbrücke, Relief

They generally hold 10 to 20 years before having to be replaced. Their functionality has been proven a million times over and they can be more cost-effective than implants. Thanks to stable frameworks provided by implants or healthy teeth several missing teeth can be bridged.

The disadvantage is that neighboring teeth have to be used for stabilization, which means that these adjacent teeth must be sanded and crowned, even when they are otherwise completely healthy. Furthermore, at the location of the bridged tooth gap, the jaw bone deteriorates, since it is no longer receiving biting and chewing pressure from the missing tooth.

For several missing teeth, it can make sense to combine bridges with implants. With only four to six implants whole rows of teeth can be replaced. We are increasingly using zirconium as a material for large bridges: they are tooth-colored, metal-free and very stable.

Dental crowns or partial crowns

Zahnersatz

Dental crowns or partial crowns are technically not dentures and are a tooth preservation measure. They partially cover a tooth if necessary and keep the affected tooth functional as long as possible.

For single tooth gaps an implant is often the best choice, as it stands on its own and can be optimally maintained. This requires sufficient jawbone though. Implants are placed directly into the jawbone and can last a lifetime. They fit perfectly into the existing dentition and resist the pressure of chewing as strongly as healthy teeth. Depending on the condition of the adjacent teeth the following considerations are made:

Implant or bridge?

Zahnimplantat Modell

Are the neighboring teeth completely intact? If so, an implant is often the right choice. Even if this requires a prior bone augmentation. A cheaper alternative may be an adhesive bridge.

If however, the neighboring teeth are heavily pre-treated, then it makes sense to do a bridge. We make small bridges of up to 3 teeth ourselves with a highly stable, lithium disilicate ceramic using the CEREC system, also called e.max. This has great advantages:

  • less expensive than laboratory-made bridges
  • can be placed in one day
  • pleasant treatment because of digital impressions
  • meets the highest aesthetic demands

The treatment of individual teeth with the CEREC system requires only a single session. Our office has a lot of experience with this method. Also it’s fast, cheap, digital and we can use a variety of materials.

From temporary plastic (single crown to multi-unit bridges) to highly aesthetic, fired ceramics. Everything from one source, everything on site. This is what we mean with modern and contemporary dentistry!

Removable dentures – dentures, full dentures, partial dentures

Combined dentures – safe, comfortable, cost-saving

Dental Prosthetics, a name derived from the word “prosthesis” (= replacement of a missing body part), is concerned with the functional restoration of the masticatory system. Prostheses come into play when there are no or not enough own teeth present to allow a stable fixture. Although implantology today offers more possibilities for the manufacture of solid oral dentures than before, the necessary prerequisites are not always given. For example, when not enough jawbone is present. Partial or full dentures have been a common treatment for missing teeth for a long time and they work well in general. A full denture for the lower jaw, however, is a trickier affair. Unlike in the upper jaw where a prosthesis is held in place with a suction effect, the lower denture lies on a slim wedge of jawbone, which gets thinner as we age. The solution for this is a fixed prosthetic: In most cases, modern dentistry involves anchoring dentures to implants for stability.

Combined dentures, as the name suggests, consist of two parts: one fixed, one removable. The fixed element is mounted on a stable tooth or implant and serves as an anchor for the removable counterpart – the partial denture. Snaps, also called locators, connect these items. Combined dentures have several advantages. First, attaching a removable section to other teeth or implants provides excellent hold.

Compared with loose partial dentures, having strong teeth to which the dentures are attached, means they are better protected against tooth decay. Second, overstressing of individual teeth is avoided because remaining teeth are not taking the full pressure. In general, costs are lower than the other option of replacing teeth with implants.

Which denture is the right for me?

To know what is best for you we encourage you to make an appointment with us for your personal diagnosis. A check-up in our office is quick and simple. After looking at your teeth and discussing your case, we will suggest a treatment for you that fits you best and then implement it quickly and safely. We will always take into account the extent of the costs involved and work with you to meet your budgetary wishes and capacity.