Are you missing some or all of your teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease? Do you need to have teeth surgically removed? Do you already wear temporary dentures? If so, you’re not alone. 35 million Americans have missing teeth, and of those 35 million, 90% wear dentures.
Many patients—especially those who have recently undergone tooth extraction surgery—use temporary instead of permanent dentures. However, temporary dentures are often ill-fitting and can cause pain, irritation or infection, gum disease, and other serious health concerns. In these cases, getting permanent dentures may be the best option for your dental health.
What are permanent dentures?
As the name suggests, permanent dentures are created to stay with you for the rest of your life. While temporary dentures are molded for your mouth before you undergo a tooth extraction and are used to help maintain the shape of your face during the healing process, permanent dentures are molded to your mouth only after your gum tissue has completely healed—about 6 to 8 weeks after your oral surgery. Because of this, permanent dentures are created to fit perfectly against your gums and any remaining natural teeth.
When are permanent dentures the better choice?
If you experience any of the following issues with your temporary dentures, permanent dentures may be the safer, healthier choice for you.
1. Irritation or discomfort. If your dentures are not perfectly fitted—and many temporary dentures are not—they can cause irritation, soreness, and other pains in your mouth and jaw.
2. Stomatitis, a condition that occurs when bacteria grows on the upper part of your dentures and causes painful red spots on the roof of your mouth. Stomatitis and other fungal infections can easily form in your mouth if your dentures are not well-fitted or cleaned often enough.
3. Bad breath. If you do not remove and clean your dentures regularly, you might experience bad breath (halitosis) as a result.
4. Difficulty chewing or drinking. If your dentures are not firmly secured to your gums, they can shift or “float” around, causing pain and discomfort when you eat. Because of this, wearers are often restricted to eating only soft foods and avoiding anything crunchy or chewy.
5. Difficulty speaking. Some people with temporary dentures report feeling self-conscious about speaking, as they are concerned their dentures will shift around or make clicking noises.
6. Hygiene issues. If you have issues remembering or finding the time to remove and thoroughly clean your dentures every day, you increase your risk of infection, bad breath, and tooth decay in any remaining natural teeth.
7. Allergies. Some people are allergic to certain materials that are commonly used in temporary dentures or denture adhesives. If you have experienced swelling, irritation, redness, or any other discomfort because of your dentures, you might be having an allergic reaction.
8. Limited taste sensation. Because dentures cover the roof of the mouth, they can often reduce your ability to taste and enjoy food or discern hot from cold.
9. Tooth decay or gum disease. If food gets trapped between the dentures and your gums—or any remaining natural teeth—it can easily cause a buildup of plaque, tartar, and bad bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.
10. Frequent breakage. Temporary dentures are often relatively fragile and will break if dropped, meaning they will need to be replaced. They already have to be replaced every 3-5 years, so the fragility (and daily removal) can be an issue for some people.
Why are permanent dentures safer?
Luckily, most of the above problems do not apply to permanent dentures. Because permanent dentures are molded to your gums only after they have healed, it’s easier for your dentist to create a perfect custom fit. As long as you take good care of them and practice good oral hygiene, you don’t need to worry about permanent dentures causing irritation, infection, or tooth decay. You also won’t need to worry about them shifting around in your mouth, clicking, or rubbing your gums raw. They’re made for you specifically, and unless your mouth undergoes any drastic changes, permanent dentures can last a lifetime.
Another great option for patients seeking a lifelong solution to missing teeth is dental implants. Unlike dentures, dental implants are not fitted over the gums—they require oral surgery, during which your dentist will insert tiny titanium “roots” into your jawbone to imitate the roots of natural teeth. Once you have healed, natural-looking artificial teeth are attached to the “roots” to achieve the look and feel of completely natural teeth. They never shift, never come out of your mouth, and can be cared for like your regular teeth. Implants are more expensive than permanent dentures, but the benefits include a safe, healthy, and completely secure smile for the rest of your life.
If you have any questions about permanent dentures, or you have been experiencing some of the temporary denture-related health issues we listed above, don’t hesitate to contact our office.