Tooth Replacement Options – Part 1

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If you’ve had the misfortune of removing one or more functional teeth, today’s dentistry offers several different tooth replacement solutions. In this blog entry, I will focus on the removable tooth replacement option. This option, commonly known as dentures, is usually the least expensive solution to replace missing teeth. Dentures can be designed to replace all teeth in an arch (jaw) or as few as one. Let’s look at the pros and cons of this particular tooth replacement option.

Full dentures have been around for hundreds of years. Our first president, George Washington, is probably the most famous person to have dentures. He had several different sets made from various materials. A common myth is that his dentures were made of wood, but none of his dentures were made of this material. Wood cannot stand up to the abuse and hostile environment of the mouth. Today’s full dentures are mostly made of acrylic with plastic or porcelain teeth. I am now going to list the pros and cons of dentures.


    • • Replace all teeth with one appliance


    • • Least expensive option


    • • No longer need to purchase toothpaste


              • Dental implants can be placed for stability or retention afterward


    • • Significant reduction in chewing efficiency


    • • Sore spots and gum irritations


    • • Reduce ability to taste


    • • Faster wear of teeth (if plastic)


    • • Periodic need to reline due to poorer fit of dentures


    • • Need to relearn how to speak and eat (first timers)


    • • Denture adhesive use is likely needed indefinitely


              • Dentures may crack or have teeth break off if dropped

So, as we can see, there are more cons to dentures than pros. Removable partial dentures have similar pros and cons to full dentures, and in the U.S., these appliances aren’t generally made to replace one or two missing posterior teeth. They are sometimes made to replace a missing tooth or two in the anterior. Removable partial dentures can be made with a cast metal framework for strength and are held in by clasping onto natural teeth. They can also be fully made of acrylic with wire embedded in the acrylic that uses a clasping mechanism to wrap around a natural tooth to help with the retention of the partial. In my experience, many patients do not utilize this option unless it is the only option they can afford. It works but is not the best option. Next time, I will discuss fixed bridges.