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An immediate denture is a denture which is designed to be fitted into place as soon as teeth are extracted. Immediate dentures can be partial or full, depending on the needs of the patient, and they have a number of advantages which make them appealing to some patients. The biggest advantage from the perspective of the patient may be an aesthetic one: with an immediate denture, a patient never needs to walk around without any teeth.
Not all patients are candidates for an immediate denture, but if a dentist feels that this option is appropriate for a patient, the patient will need several appointments before the planned extraction so that casts can be taken of the mouth. These casts will be used in the fabrication of the immediate denture, a process which takes several weeks, and once the denture is ready, the patient can be scheduled for an extraction.
After the extraction, the denture is immediately placed, and checked for fit. Wearing an immediate denture actually reduces pain and swelling for the patient post-extraction. It also allows the patient to start to learn to speak with a denture in place right away, rather than having to wait, and it makes it easier for the patient to eat. In the first 24 hours, the denture must be left in place, and the patient is given drugs to manage pain and soreness. After this period, the denture is periodically removed for cleaning.
As the patient heals with a denture in place, he or she will need to periodically return to the dentist so that the fit can be checked again. As the mouth heals, it will change shape, and the denture may require relining to ensure that it fits properly. Once the healing is complete, which can take up to six months, the immediate denture can be relined again to fit the mouth properly, or an entirely new denture can be fabricated if the immediate denture does not look or feel appropriate for the patient.
One of the issues with an immediate denture is that it is not always possible to get a good fit. An immediate partial denture, for example, may not fit properly because it's hard to get the fit right using casts of a mouth with damaged teeth in place. Immediate full dentures may look or feel odd once they are fitted after the removal of the teeth, due to underlying differences in jaw structure, and the patient may need some time to get used to the denture.
Opting for immediate dentures can make patients feel more confident and comfortable after an extraction. Patients should be aware that the immediate denture can be costly, as it will be necessary to pay for the fabrication of the denture and for numerous adjustments which occur as the mouth heals, and the patient may need to purchase a new denture to replace the immediate denture at the end of the healing period.