One of the most common concerns that patients have when coming to NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry is they want their smile fixed. Fixing smiles is one of the key foundations of dentistry along with keeping the mouth healthy, ensuring good chewing, and speaking well. Unfortunately, often times when smiles need to get fixed it is because the teeth are no longer fixable and they are either loose or broken. However, these teeth are usually still functioning because they are providing some level of a smile even if the smile itself isn’t very pretty. To fabricate a final prosthesis and fix the smile long term, often five to seven months of healing are needed after removing the non-restorable teeth. As patients will not go a few days much less half a year without teeth, Dr. Schafer often fabricates an immediate denture as a transition between having teeth and having dentures. This blog post will discuss the different aspects of immediate dentures from the process to the types of dentures to the adjustment period.
How Does it Work?
The process for making immediate dentures is fairly straight forward. Dentures work by the fit of the denture to the gums and the bite of the dentures together. Usually for immediate dentures, both the fit and bite can be done at the same visit, but if the bite is very off due to missing many back teeth, Dr. Schafer may opt for doing the fit in one appointment and taking the bite at the second appointment. After the fit and the bite are determined, the dentist mounts the teeth on an artificial jaw called an articulator. The articulator helps Dr. Schafer see how the two jaws bite together and allows the dentist to see where to set teeth. After the models of the upper and lower jaws are set on the articulator, Dr. Schafer removes teeth from the models and shaves the models to where he thinks the gums will shrink back to on the day of surgery. The teeth are then set in relations to the mouth where Dr. Schafer believes will function the best and look the most natural. The dentures are then processed, cured, and polished as needed.
Types of Immediate Dentures
Dr. Schafer typically makes a few different types of immediate dentures. The most common type of immediate denture is a printed denture that is fabricated after removing all the teeth in the mouth. After all the teeth are removed, the printed denture is put into the mouth. Four to six weeks later, Dr. Schafer will fabricate a second printed denture that generally fits better as the swelling has decreased, and he is able to fix any other issues with the first set. Dr. Schafer likes doing these because the printed dentures are often less expensive than the conventional dentures and these can be made quicker than the conventionally processed ones. The next most common way is that Dr. Schafer will remove the back teeth and allow it to heal for a few weeks while the front smiling teeth remain in place. Then a set of conventional dentures are made, the remaining front teeth are removed, and the dentures are placed. The advantage of removing back teeth a few weeks before is that the dentures will fit better. The conventional dentures are preferred because there can be much more customization with them, over printed dentures. With conventional dentures, for example, there are over 100,000 different tooth shapes, sizes, and colors while printed dentures teeth only have 3 different shapes and 2 different colors.
Getting Used to Your Dentures
The adjustment period is the most difficult part of immediate dentures. No matter how small the immediate dentures are made, they will always feel big and wide to the mouth. Much like a small raspberry seed feels like a mountain when it is wedged between teeth, two dentures in the mouth when the mouth is not used to having any dentures will not feel natural. Dr. Schafer has all of his immediate denture patients come back weekly until they feel like they can function well. This will mean liners to tighten the dentures, adjustments to remove sharp spots, and coaching to help train the muscles. The goal of the immediate dentures is not just to restore the smile but also to start restoring the muscles so that they learn how to work around a set of prosthetics. It does take quite a bit of practice to get good with dentures and immediate dentures are no exception. Dr. Schafer has success with immediate dentures because each patient gets regular hands on treatment individualized to the patient. After six months of healing, the final prosthesis is made.
At NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry, Dr. Schafer and his team’s main goal is to help patients love their smile and stay in good health. Often times that means removing bad and infected teeth that are obstacles to this goal. Just because the teeth are not fixable though does not mean that there are not good options to get you on the path to feeling good about your mouth. If you feel like you may need immediate dentures, please call us at 504-392-5104 and we will help you out.