Prosthodontics is one of nine dental specialities recognised by the General Dental Council of Great Britain and the American Dental Association. It is the branch of dentistry specialising in the restoration and maintenance of oral function, comfort, appearance and health of the patient via the restoration or replacement of teeth.
Extensive training and education provide Prosthodontists with the skills for restoring optimum function and aesthetics. The techniques used include provision of dental crowns, dental bridges, dental veneers, dental inlays, and full or partial removable dentures (plates). The speciality of prosthodontics also includes the treatment of TMD-jaw joint problems, traumatic injuries to the structures of the mouth and teeth, snoring and sleep disorders, oral cancer reconstruction and continuing care.
A detailed analysis of dental problems is made with particular attention to the concerns of the individual patient as well as the history of previous dental treatment. Diagnostic information is gathered including examination, radiographs, photographs and casts of the mouth. Collation of this information allows a comprehensive evaluation to be made in coordination with the referring dentist, and other dental specialists as required. The Prosthodontist will explain the various treatment options that are appropriate to the diagnosis. A written report is usually provided outlining the nature of the dental problem and the treatment options, including an estimate of all fees and the anticipated outcome.
The development of predictable integration of titanium implants has provided major advantages for the secure retention and support of fixed false teeth. These are used where appropriate, however it is often possible to achieve substantial advantages without implant placement, by careful application of specialist prosthodontic techniques.
Common questions on Dentures
Q. So what exactly are dentures?
A. Dentures are worn to replace your natural teeth. They are usually made from lifelike resin teeth bonded to a plastic base. You will either have been fitted with a complete denture to replace all your teeth, or a partial denture. Partial dentures are usually held in place by clasps or metal clips, which fit around some of your remaining teeth.
Q. Will anyone be able to tell I have dentures?
A. Not easily. With today’s technology dentures can be made to look so natural that people can’t tell who’s wearing them. Your dentist has custom made your dentures to fit your mouth, so they’ll take on the character of your original teeth, leaving your appearance the same as before. The colour of the teeth is carefully selected, either to match your remaining teeth, or simply to look as natural as possible.
Q. How easy is it to adjust to wearing them?
A. While your dentures have been custom made, they may initially feel a little strange, or even rather a mouthful, however, rest assured that they only feel that way; you yourself will not look any different. You may also find you produce more saliva than normal but this should settle down soon enough. The time it takes to adjust to wearing new dentures is different for everyone, but you will soon learn how to eat, talk and smile as you would with natural teeth.
Q. Will dentures change how I speak?
A. Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating difficult words will help. But over time you will adjust and get used to it, so don’t worry! Using a denture fixative will give you extra confidence with speaking.
Q. What if I really cannot tolerate dentures
A. Implants can be placed to either replace your dentures entirely (see Implant info), or to anchor existing dentures so they don’t move around so much. Ask your dentist to refer you to an Implant Specialist or a Prosthodontist
Q. Do I play a role in how successful my dentures are?
A. Yes. Learning to eat with artificial teeth requires considerable skill and practice. This is because every person’s mouth has a different structure, which can affect the retention and stability of the denture. Also the level of suction which helps hold the denture in place, particularly the upper denture, will vary dependent upon the amount of saliva produced. Many denture wearers find the lower denture particularly difficult to manage at first. Experience will help, as will the use of a carefully selected denture fixative, which is a useful aid to assisting with denture retention and stability.
Q. What about eating out?
A. Once you get used to them, there is absolutely no reason why you should feel too restricted by your dentures. You will, with experience be able to enjoy your meals. At first it is probably a good idea to eat softer food, and to cut your food up into smaller pieces, just until you get used to your dentures. While you learn to use your dentures, it is also a good idea to take smaller mouthfuls and chew slowly; gradually you’ll get better as time goes on. After you put your food into your mouth, try to divide it in two, and then chew each half at the back of each side of your mouth. This even pressure on your dentures will stop them tipping and make them feel more stable. A lot of denture wearers avoid difficult foods like toffee, crust bread, nuts and apples because they are worried these might displace their dentures. However a fixative can help. There is a choice between flavoured and unflavoured fixative.
Q. How do I take care of my dentures?
A. Dentures need cleaning morning and night in the same way as your natural teeth. If you follow this same routine, you can not go far wrong. Pay particular attention to your gums, and any remaining teeth where they meet your dentures as plaque and debris builds up in these areas.
Q. So how should dentures be cleaned?
A. You should ask your dentist. When cleaning your dentures always remove them from your mouth beforehand to clean them properly. As a general guide remember that dentures are fragile and need to be handled carefully when out of the mouth. Cleaning them with a brush should be done over a basin filled with warm water, so that if you drop them the water will cushion the fall. The main purpose of cleaning is to remove the dental plaque, which builds up on dentures as well as teeth and can harm the gums. Brushing a denture will also remove any food particles stuck to it. The highly polished, easily cleaned new surface of dentures can be damaged by ordinary toothpastes, which can be too abrasive. There are special gentle denture cleaning toothpastes available which, will leave your dentures fresh and minty like a normal toothpaste but will not damage the surface. This brushing helps remove the plaque and debris, whereas soaking alone may not. If you have partial dentures, you should pay particular attention to cleaning your remaining teeth and follow a good oral hygiene routine.
Q. What is soaking?
A. Some people prefer to soak their dentures in a denture cleaning solution although it has been proven that brushing with a denture cleaning toothpaste is better than soaking alone. It is a personal choice, but if you do soak them, use a known brand tablet or powder with luke warm water. If your dentures have got metal parts, do not soak them for more than 10 minutes, and remember that continued soaking in boiling water can bleach or discolour your dentures. Most soaking brands recommend brushing as well as soaking to ensure debris and plaque are physically removed.
Q. Do I still need to visit my dentist?
A. Yes. Your dentures are made from materials that are softer than your natural teeth, so they will eventually need replacing. Also your mouth changes shape after your teeth have been removed, and even losing weight can change the shape of your mouth. So to make sure that your dentures continue to fit properly it is important that you visit your dentist at least once a year to have them checked. If you have partial dentures you should visit your dentist every six months.