Should I Get Dentures? A Complete Guide to Getting Dentures
Do you remember the moment as a child where you first realized your grandparents wore dentures? Maybe they were poorly fitting and slipped while your grandparent was telling a funny story. Perhaps you woke your grandfather up unexpectedly, and he hadn’t “put his teeth in yet.”
Even then, you likely never considered that you might also need dentures someday.
At some point in your life – and not just when you’re over 70 – you may start seeing the signs that make you ask, “Should I get dentures?” But will you recognize them when they happen?
Keep reading to learn when to consider dentures for the first time.
Should I Get Dentures? Signs It’s Time to Talk to the Dentist
There are signs that you may need full (or partial) dentures. Some of these come on earlier in life than you might expect.
Others may appear as a result of both oral disease and aging.
1. You Have Tooth Pain
Are toothaches a constant in your life? Have you seen the dentist?
Severe toothaches are usually an indicator of tooth decay.
Tooth decay is impossibly common: the World Dental Federation says nearly 100 percent of adults have it
When caught early enough, you can fix tooth decay with a root canal and save your tooth and the root. But if the infection carries on too long, it can result in the loss of that tooth.
If you are still young and you struggle with toothaches, talk to your dentist now to learn more about protecting your oral health as you grow older.
2. Your Teeth Wiggle or They Move Away from Each Other
A combination of tooth decay and periodontal disease can result in loose teeth that wiggle or move. For example, you might lose a tooth and then see gaps grow between your remaining teeth.
Teeth damaged enough to wiggle or move around may also make it difficult to chew or digest your food. You may not notice it as it occurs over time, but your body will. If you have stomach aches and indigestion, it could be the result of being unable to chew correctly.
If your smile has changed dramatically – not as the result of trauma – you might want to start having a conversation about dentures.
3. You Already Lost a Tooth or Two
Losing a tooth as a result of tooth decay or severe periodontitis is not uncommon. For example, 15-20 percent of adults aged 35-44 have such severe periodontal disease that they are at risk of tooth loss.
The issue with losing a tooth is that the impact isn’t just the loss of a single tooth.
First, your other teeth lose the support they need to keep them in place and remain healthy. They shift faster and may lose their strength, which can cause further tooth loss or breakages.
Second, the loss of one tooth impacts your jaw bone. The root of your tooth attaches to your bone, and when you chew, it stimulates the jaw bone to remain active. A weak jaw bone causes further problems for both your oral health and your other teeth.
Bone loss doesn’t occur over a long period of time. Most of it happens within the first 12 weeks after tooth loss before slowing down over the next few years.
4. You Struggle with Inflamed Gums
Are your gums red and swollen more often than not? The sensitivity isn’t just something that happens when you forget to brush. It’s an early indicator of periodontal disease (gum diseases).
Periodontal disease is the product of infected gums, and it risks the health of your whole mouth.
To care for it, you’ll need regular cleanings of your teeth and gums. Your dentist will often prescribe special toothpaste and mouthwash, too. However, if you don’t treat it or have a disease that worsens it, then bone loss and tooth loss can mean you have no choice but to turn to dentures.
What Kind of Dentures Might I Need?
Dentures come in several forms, and the kind you need depends on the extent of your tooth decay or tooth loss.
The three that you are more likely to encounter are:
- Immediate dentures
- Partial dentures
- Full dentures
Here’s what each offers you.
They’re “immediate” because conventional partial or full dentures aren’t suitable for use right after you have teeth extracted. Your gums need time to heal. However, immediate dentures help replace missing teeth to help you chew and prevent your teeth from shifting in the meantime.
Partial dentures are for those who only need to replace some of your teeth. For example, if you lose three or four teeth on your lower jaw, then you might choose to replace them with dentures to protect your other teeth.
The reason you might get immediate dentures before partial dentures is that the partial dentures stay in place with metal clasps. As a result, they can’t be applied when your gums are healing after extraction.
Finally, full dentures are available for a complete set of teeth on your upper or lower jaw – or both. You might remember your grandparents wearing dentures with adhesives, but these aren’t your only options. You can choose dentures with more support to get a better fit.
You can still remove full dentures at night, and your dentist will likely tell you that it’s a good idea. Removing them overnight alows your gums time to rest and gives you time to clean your dentures.
Are You Ready to Talk About Dentures?
Tooth loss is both a product of both diseases (tooth decay and gum disease) and getting older. But it’s not something that only impacts us once we reach old age.
If you have issues with loose teeth, lost teeth, or severe periodontal disease at middle age, you might already need to ask, “Should I get dentures?”
Do you recognize the early signs of tooth loss? There’s still time to save your teeth. Call L’Enfant Plaza Dental Arts at 202-488-8300 to schedule a new patient consultation or exam.