Here’s the deal:
We all want a bright and healthy smile. Images of pearly white, straight teeth surround all the time from magazines to websites to the silver screen.
This is difficult for many to achieve and maintain with a full set of teeth. For those who have started to lose their teeth, be it to damage, disease, or old age, there’s only one real option left to them: cosmetic dentures.
What Are Cosmetic Dentures?
Many people have an image in their mind when they hear the word dentures. Typically they imagine an elderly person’s fake teeth floating in a jar of water by the bedside table. These were devices that were too uncomfortable to be worn full time and had a tendency to be ill-fitting.
Modern cosmetic dentures are very, very far from this nostalgic image.
Dentures are a means to replace all or part of one or both arches of teeth, upper and lower. Today there are many types of denture available on the market. Each is designed with the specific patient in mind. They’re custom-made and tailored specifically to your mouth.
They’re also made to much higher cosmetic standards in the past — it’s often very difficult to tell real teeth and a good set of dentures apart these days.
Aren’t Dentures Only For Old People?
It’s true that elderly people are more likely to need dentures than younger people. Yet it’s important to note that this has much more to do with the fact they’ve lived longer and are more likely to have lost teeth along the way.
The reality is that dentures are for anyone who needs them. Teeth can be lost for any number of reasons. Poor dental hygiene is certainly one of them, but so is disease. Certain illnesses and the medications to treat them can adversely affect the health of your teeth and compromise them. Severe accidents such as motor vehicle collisions can also necessitate a full mouth restoration with cosmetic dentures.
Cosmetic dentures are intended to restore the look and function of your teeth after they’ve gone. Whether you’re in your twenties or nineties, cosmetic dentures may well be the treatment you need for a problem you have.
What Types Of Cosmetic Dentures Are There?
Today there are many brands and types of cosmetic dentures out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some cost a little extra, but look more realistic. Some are simpler, but cheaper and still custom-fitted.
Broadly speaking there are three types of cosmetic denture:
- Full Dentures
Full dentures are when you replace the entire arch of teeth with a denture. This might be all of your upper or lower teeth.
Full dentures for upper and lower arches are shaped slightly differently. A full denture on the upper arch includes an artificial “roof” for your mouth. This allows the denture to sit snugly and remain stable. There’s also more artificial gum visible, to give the most realistic look possible.
Lower arch full dentures feature less gum, and are horseshoe shaped to avoid interfering with the tongue.
- Partial Denture
A partial denture replaces several teeth in a row to close a large gap. Partial dentures can be fit into the mouth in a number of ways. There are metal attachments which grab surrounding natural teeth, natural colored bonding which is significantly less noticeable, or even by using crowns placed on remaining healthy teeth to form a bridge.
(A single tooth is usually either replaced by a small bridge, or with a single dental implant.)
- Implant-Supported Dentures
These dentures, as the name suggest, are anchored onto four or more dental implants. Implants are titanium screws inserted into the jawbone that replace missing tooth roots. They help maintain healthy bone volume and prevent the jaw from warping over time.
Typically an implant replaces a single tooth, but implant-supported dentures are becoming increasingly popular. They’re easily the most stable of the options, and a full arch of teeth can be supported by as few as four implants.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Regardless of which version you go with, cosmetic dentures can be a fairly time-consuming process. For any type of denture there are several consultations and a planning phase where detailed notes and designs are made. This ensures that when your dentures go in, they look and fit as best as possible without needing a lot of extra modification.
Partial dentures are the least time-consuming because there’s very little waiting time. Teeth are extracted and the denture is manufactured and set in place. It still takes a few weeks in total.
- Full Dentures
Our mouths change over the course of our lives. Our teeth are never completely set in place; they’re always slightly pliable. This is how orthodontics works, by applying gentle pressure to move the teeth in a precise manner.
What this means is that when all of your teeth are removed, your jaw continues to reshape itself as well. The dentist will often have to wait a few months after extracting teeth to allow the jaw and gum to settle before placing the cosmetic denture.
If they don’t wait for this settling period, then the gum and jaw will continue to move and make the denture loose and unusable.
- Implant-Supported Dentures
Dental implants require around six months to properly fuse to the bone and form a viable foundation. Only after this period can the dentures be fixed on top.
After these waiting periods, an initial fitting is performed to check to see everything is where it should be. Adjustments can then be made if needed, before a final fitting.
How Much Do Cosmetic Dentures Cost?
This can vary wildly depending on the type of denture you choose. Cosmetic dentures cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Simple partial dentures are the cheapest, for fairly obvious reasons — they aren’t as large or complex.
Full dentures that look very realistic will cost more than simple dentures. A high-end full mouth of full dentures can cost upwards of $5,000, while a full mouth of simple dentures might only cost around $1,000.
Implant-supported dentures are significantly more expensive than either option, as implants are a complicated and costly procedure. However, the payoff is that they are more secure, more natural feeling, and typically last longer than the alternatives.
If you think you might need dentures, or simply want to discuss the option with a dentist, contact us today.
INFOGRAPHIC: Advantages and Disadvantages of Cosmetic Dentures
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