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A maxillary denture.
Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clasping onto teeth or dental implants. There are two main categories of dentures, depending on whether they are used to replace missing teeth on the mandibular arch or the maxillary arch. There are many colloquial terms for dentures such as dental plate, false teeth, choppers falsies & gnashers

Causes of tooth loss

Patients can become entirely edentulous (without teeth) due to many reasons, the most prevalent being removal because of dental disease typically relating to oral flora control ie:periodontal disease and tooth decay. Other reasons include tooth developmental defects caused by severe malnutrition, genetic defects such as Dentinogenesis imperfecta, trauma, or drug use.

Advantages

Dentures can help patients in a number of ways:

1. Mastication - chewing ability is improved by replacing edentulous areas with denture teeth.

2. Aesthetics - the presence of teeth provide a natural facial appearance, and wearing a denture to replace missing teeth provides support for the lips and cheeks and corrects the collapsed appearance that occurs after losing teeth.

3. Phonetics - by replacing missing teeth, especially the anteriors, patients are better able to speak by improving pronunciation of those words containing sibilants or fricatives.

4. Self-Esteem - Patients feel better about themselves.

Types of dentures

Removable partial dentures

Removable partial dentures are for patients who are missing some of their teeth on a particular arch. Fixed partial dentures, better known as "crown and bridge", are made from crowns that are fitted on the remaining teeth to act as abutments and pontics made from materials to resemble the missing teeth. Fixed bridges are more expensive than removable appliances but are more stable.

Complete dentures

Conversely, complete dentures or full dentures are worn by patients who are missing all of the teeth in a single arch (i.e the maxillary (upper) or mandibular (lower) arch).

History

Around 700BC, Etruscansmarker, in northern Italy, made dentures out of human or other animal teeth. These deteriorated quickly but, being easy to produce, were popular until the mid 19th century

The first European sets of dentures date from the 15th century and most probably existed before that time. They were carved from bone or ivory, or made up of teeth sourced from graveyards, the recent dead or living donors who exchanged their teeth for profit. These dentures were uncomfortable, attached visibly to a base supported by any remaining teeth with a thread of metal or silk. The false teeth were often made with ivory from the hippopotamus or walrus, and usually rotted after extended use.

Londonmarker's Peter de la Roche is believed to be one of the first 'Operators for the Teeth', men who fashioned themselves as specialists in dental work. Often these men were professional goldsmiths, ivory turners or students of barber-surgeons.

The first porcelain dentures were made around 1770 by Alexis Duchâteau. In 1791 the first Britishmarker patent was granted to Nicholas Dubois De Chemant, previous assistant to Duchateau, for "De Chemant's Specification", "a composition for the purpose of making of artificial teeth either single double or in rows or in complete sets and also springs for fastening or affixing the same in a more easy and effectual manner than any hitherto discovered which said teeth may be made of any shade or colour, which they will retain for any length of time and will consequently more perfectly resemble the natural teeth." He began selling his wares in 1792 with most of his porcelain paste supplied by Wedgwood. Perhaps the most famous early denture user was George Washington. He was fitted with them no later than 1764. President Washington's dentures are part of a new display on exhibit at Mount Vernon. Despite the rumors, the famous dentures aren't made of wood, they're made of hippopotamus ivory.

In London in 1820, Claudius Ash, a goldsmith by trade, began manufacturing high-quality porcelain dentures mounted on 18-carat gold plates. Later dentures were made of Vulcanite from the 1850s on, a form of hardened rubber (Claudius Ash’s company was the leading European manufacturer of dental Vulcanite) into which porcelain teeth were set, and then, in the 20th century, acrylic resin and other plastics. In Britain in 1968 79% of those aged 65-74 had no natural teeth, by 1998 this proportion had fallen to 36%.

Until the 1980s, when the practice was banned in the United States, the radioactive element uranium was sometimes added to false teeth to give the wearer's smile a "healthy glow".

Problems with complete dentures

Problems with dentures include the fact that patients are not used to having something in their mouth that is not food. The brain senses this appliance as "food" and sends messages to the salivary glands to produce more saliva and to secrete it at a higher rate. This will only happen in the first 12 to 24 hours, after which, the salivary glands return to their normal output. New dentures can also be the cause of sore spots as they compress the soft tissues mucosa (denture bearing soft tissue). A few denture adjustments for the days following insertion of the dentures can take care of this issue. Gagging is another problem encountered by a minority of patients. At times, this may be due to a denture that is too loose, too thick or extended too far posteriorly onto the soft palate. At times, gagging may also be attributed to psychological denial of the denture. (Psychological gagging is the most difficult to treat since it is out of the dentist's control. In such cases, an implant supported palateless denture may have to be constructed or a hypnotist may need to be consulted). Sometimes there could be a gingivitis under the full dentures, which is caused by accumulation of dental plaque.

One of the most common problems for new full upper denture wearers is the loss of taste.

Another problem with dentures is keeping them in place. There are three rules governing the existence of removable oral appliances: support, stability and retention.

Prosthodontic principles of dentures

Support

Support is the principle that describes how well the underlying mucosa (oral tissues, including gums and the vestibules) keeps the denture from moving vertically towards the arch in question, and thus being excessively depressed and moving deeper into the arch. For the mandibular arch, this function is provided by the gingiva (gums) and the buccal shelf (region extending lateral (beside) from the posterior (back) ridges), whereas in the maxillary arch, the palate joins in to help support the denture. The larger the denture flanges (part of the denture that extends into the vestibule), the better the support.

Stability

Stability is the principle that describes how well the denture base is prevented from moving in the horizontal plane, and thus from sliding side to side or front and back. The more the denture base (pink material) runs in smooth and continuous contact with the edentulous ridge (the hill upon which the teeth used to reside, but now consists of only residual alveolar bone with overlying mucosa), the better the stability. Of course, the higher and broader the ridge, the better the stability will be, but this is usually just a result of patient anatomy, barring surgical intervention (bone grafts, etc.).

Retention

Retention is the principle that describes how well the denture is prevented from moving vertically in the opposite direction of insertion. The better the topographical mimicry of the intaglio (interior) surface of the denture base to the surface of the underlying mucosa, the better the retention will be (in removable partial dentures, the clasps are a major provider of retention), as surface tension, suction and just plain old friction will aid in keeping the denture base from breaking intimate contact with the mucosal surface. It is important to note that the most critical element in the retentive design of a full maxillary denture is a complete and total border seal (complete peripheral seal) in order to achieve 'suction'. The border seal is composed of the edges of the anterior and lateral aspects AND the posterior palatal seal. The posterior palatal seal design is accomplished by covering the entire hard palate and extending not beyond the soft palate and ending 1-2 mm from the vibrating line.

As mentioned above, implant technology can vastly improve the patient's denture-wearing experience by increasing stability and saving his or her bone from wearing away. Implant can also help with the retention factor. Instead of merely placing the implants to serve as blocking mechanism against the denture pushing on the alveolar bone, small retentive appliances can be attached to the implants that can then snap into a modified denture base to allow for tremendously increased retention. Options available include a metal Hader bar or precision balls attachments, among other things.

Complications and recommendations

The fabrication of a set of complete dentures is a challenge for any denturist, including those who are experienced. There are many axioms in the production of dentures that must be understood, of which ignorance of one axiom can lead to failure of the denture case. In the vast majority of cases, complete dentures should be comfortable soon after insertion, although almost always at least two adjustment visits will be necessary to remove sore spots. One of the most critical aspects of dentures is that the impression of the denture must be perfectly made and used with perfect technique to make a model of the patient's edentulous (toothless) gums. The denturist must use a process called border molding to ensure that the denture flanges are properly extended. An endless array of never-ending problems with denture may occur if the final impression of the denture is not made properly. It takes considerable patience and experience for a denturist to know how to make a denture, and for this reason it may be in the patient's best interest to seek a specialist, either a Denturist or a Prosthodontist, to make the denture. A general dentist may do a good job, but only if he or she is meticulous and usually he or she must be experienced.

The maxillary denture (the top denture) is usually relatively straightforward to manufacture so that it is stable without slippage. The lower full denture tends to be the most difficult because there is no "suction" holding it in place. For this reason, dentists in the late 1990s have come to a general conclusion that a lower full denture should or must be supported by 2-4 implants placed in the lower jaw for support. A lower denture supported by 2-4 implants is a far superior product than a lower denture without implants, held in place with weak lower mouth muscles. It is routine to be able to bite into an apple or corn-on-the-cob with a lower denture anchored by implants. Without implants, it is quite difficult or even impossible to do so.

Some patients who believe they have "bad teeth" may think it is in their best interests to have all their teeth extracted and full dentures placed. However, statistics show that the majority of patients who actually receive this treatment wind up regretting they did so. This is because full dentures have only 10% of the chewing power of natural teeth, and it is difficult to get them fitted satisfactorily, particularly in the mandibular arch. Even if a patient retains one tooth, that will contribute to the denture's stability. However, retention of just one or two teeth in the upper jaw does not contribute much to the overall stability of a denture, since a full upper denture tends to be very stable, in contrast to a full lower denture. It is thus advised that patients keep their natural teeth as long as possible, especially their lower teeth.

References




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