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There are two main solutions to replacing full arches of missing teeth- removable dentures and dental implants. It also possible to have implant retained dentures (removable teeth which are secured into the mouth by dental implants). Please see below to find out more about these two different types of treatment:
These may be used to replace one or all teeth although the very back molar teeth are generally left off for comfort. Dentures which replace full row/arches of teeth are called complete dentures and a denture which only replaces a few teeth and sits next to natural teeth is called a partial denture. Complete dentures are held in place by muscular control and suction from the soft tissues of the mouth. Dentures, and especially complete dentures, are often initially very difficult to control and tolerate. However, after training your mouth and receiving guidance from your dentist patients generally learn how to wear dentures.
Partial dentures are usually constructed from acrylic or metal and acrylic. Sometimes they incorporate wires clip onto natural teeth adjacent to the denture to help secure the dentures in place. In certain circumstances, the natural teeth are prepared with small depressions in them (rest seats) to create a more solid base for the more sophisticated metal alloy dentures. Metal alloy dentures are more costly to manufacture but are generally easier to wear. This is because as metal is thinner than acrylic these types of dentures are much less bulky whilst still being very strong. Also as these types of dentures do not require suction to stay in far less gum tissue is covered by the denture which is far healthier for the gums. Metal alloy dentures are generally much easier maintain in terms of hygiene also.
It is most important that dentures and the remaining natural teeth are kept very clean to prevent the damaging effect of dental plaque.
Dental implants comprise of a titanium screw which is inserted into the bone of the jaw and an artificial tooth which is then secured into the screw. The procedure can nearly always be carried out using local anaesthetic. In cases where the patient is anxious about dental treatment the procedure can be done under sedation. Although there have been successful cases where implants have been used to immediately to support dentures, the standard and tested method is to leave an implant for between three and six months to let bone heal around it (a process called osseo-integration), before it is used to support false teeth or crowns. Implants may be used for a variety of dental restorations. These include dentures (removable teeth), bridges (fixed teeth), and single teeth. The success rate for treatment is high (approx. 90 percent). Age is not an important factor although generally implants are not placed in adolescent patients as they are still growing and the shape of their bone may change. However lifestyle has been shown to have a large impact on the success of dental implants. Smokers have a significantly reduced chance of an implant being successful and it is vital that the patient maintains their oral hygiene as implants are susceptible to gum disease (known as peri-implantitis).
Not everyone is suitable for this form of treatment. Enough bone is necessary to hold the implant in place and excellent standards of oral hygiene are necessary for long-term success.