Dentures are prosthetic teeth worn by those who have lost their natural teeth through injury or illness. There are many different types of false teeth, designed to address a variety of dental situations. Dentures may be removable or implanted, and they may replace teeth on the lower mandibular arch or the upper maxillary arch.
False teeth have been used in some form since at least the 15th century, though they have greatly improved in design since then. Early dentures were made of bone, ivory, or human teeth and, like natural teeth, could rot with extended use. They were attached to existing teeth with metal or silk string and were quite uncomfortable. The first porcelain dentures were constructed in the 1770s, and plastics became the material of choice in the 20th century.
Those who have lost their teeth find both functional and aesthetic benefits from dentures. Well-made prosthetics allow the wearer to enjoy all kinds of food, whereas missing teeth or poor dentures significantly restrict chewing ability. False teeth also support the lips and cheeks, improving the appearance of a patient who has lost his or her natural teeth.
Dentures are custom designed to fit each patient's mouth, and skill and patience are required to create an effective pair. Poorly made ones can cause significant discomfort and erode the gums and bones of the jaw, leading to greater dental problems. A combination of implants and removable pieces are often the best option.
Even well-made dentures require some getting used to. At first, the wearer often salivates excessively, as the mouth recognizes the false teeth as a foreign object, similar to food. Sucking on sugar-free candy can help alleviate this problem. The dentures may chafe or otherwise feel uncomfortable, and a few adjustments are typically necessary before they fit perfectly. A person with new dentures will also have to learn to speak and eat naturally with the new teeth.
Fortunately, most people adjust to dentures well with help from their dentist. While it is common for new teeth to feel awkward and uncomfortable simply because the wearer has not yet adjusted to them, they should not be painful. If the patient feels any pain or chafing from his dentures, he discuss the issue with his dentist immediately so that they can be readjusted.