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Dentures: the facts

Whilst the options for tooth replacement have drastically improved with the availability of dental implants, this option is expensive and often patients are left with no choice but to opt for a denture, which is usually the most affordable option.

A brief history of dentures

 The use of dentures dates back to around 700BC, when they were crudely fashioned out of animal or human teeth. Fast-forward quite a few centuries and in the 1800’s, dentures were commonly made out of ivory or human teeth (the teeth were extracted from soldiers’ corpses or executed criminals, obtained by grave-robbers or even received from desperately impoverished who had teeth to sell!). Dentures were very expensive in the 1800’s and were only an option for the very rich.

Dentures was revolutionised in the 1850’s when there was the discovery of Vulcanite, a form of hardened rubber into which porcelain teeth were set. Over the following centuries, dentures became more accessible to the mass population and are now commonly made of an acrylic base with either plastic or porcelain teeth.

What are the different types of dentures?

Tooth loss is still prevalent, especially given the UK’s rise of sugar intake, so whilst dentures appear only reserved for the elderly, it is more and more common that younger people also have them. Missing teeth can affect you ability to eat and speak and the type of denture will depend on how many teeth you have lost:

Partial denture – designed to replace one or a few teeth. A partial denture comprises a plate that has the missing teeth fitted on to it. It usually clips onto your natural teeth via metal clasps, which are meant to hold the denture in place.

Full denture – designed to replace all of your upper or lower teeth.

People usually require the extraction of teeth before a denture is fitted. After tooth extraction, patients are usually given a temporary denture to wear whilst the gums heal. It is common that your gums and surrounding bone will change in shape following tooth extraction and therefore can take a few months before a permanent denture can be fitted.

What are the common problems with wearing a denture?

Depending on whether you have a full of partial denture fitted, it is likely that you will initially find the dentures uncomfortable as it will feel very unnatural; and it will take some getting used to. The other common problems are eating and speaking with a denture. It is well known that it is quite tricky to get denture to fit well and quite often your dentist will need to make some adjustments.

However, whilst dentures usually come with some issues, we have acted for a number of client’s where the denture preparation and fit was poor, caused unnecessary discomfort and ultimately required the denture to be replaced. If you are having any difficulties with a partial or full denture, please feel free to contact us to discuss whether you have a dental negligence claim.

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