Dentures and overdentures…
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when we hear any of these words is that dentures are only for seniors. Or for those of us who are creeping up in years, we just shudder at the thought of ever needing them.
However, the truth is different.
According to the American College of Prosthodontists, more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and around 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. These numbers are expected to grow in the next two decades as the population ages. In addition, according to Statista, 890 thousand people used dentures in 2018.
So, think again when you hear this word. Both dentures and overdentures are a real and viable solution for millions of Americans, and don’t have to be looked at fretfully.
Having several missing teeth or no teeth at all can bring challenging and confidence-sapping outcomes that collectively reduce the quality of your life. For starters, with more missing teeth, it becomes increasingly difficult perform essential daily tasks like eating and speaking (and of course smiling and singing). What’s more, missing teeth can significantly affect confidence, healthy psychology and even the shape of a face.
A smile is one of the first things we notice in a person. Imagine how it can feel if you can’t smile to a loved one with confidence, or avoid any kind of social situations because of missing teeth and the accompanying struggles.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you or someone you know are considering getting dentures or overdentures. Or maybe you already have them, or know a friend or family member using them. It any case, it’s natural to have questions.
Let’s take the story of Anna. Anna has lost almost lost all her teeth and is in need of good information about what dentures and overdentures are, their benefits and cost, and which option is better for her. In this article, we’ll help people like Anna by introducing both options and how they can help.
The history of dentures
The story of dentures goes back further than you might think. According to History of Dentistry, primitive dentures dating to 2500 BC have been found in what today is Mexico, and were made from wolf teeth! Whatever solution a patient like Anna considers, we can all feel pretty lucky to enjoy the options in modern medicine!
Other findings from around 700BC suggest that Etruscans in northern Italy made dentures out of both human animal teeth. The most usual materials used at this time included ivory taken from hippos and elephants, real human teeth, gold, rivets and spiral springs. Although most of these materials deteriorate quickly (plus the fact that some of them are really spooky), they remained popular until the mid-1800s.
After the mid-1800s, dentists continued using gold and ivory, but also began incorporating silver, rubber and eventually porcelain into dentures. These were the most popular materials used until 1950. Then, plastics and resins were developed and radically changed the landscape of possibilities. These materials are tough and durable, and are still used today.
Current-day dentures, similar to the primitive dentures in one respect, are custom-made replacements for missing teeth. But today they’re made in a dental laboratory based on each patient’s mouth and needs. They can also be removable, which means they can be taken out and put back in your mouth for cleaning and to sleep.
Dentures are for just about any patient who:
- has lost or going to lose a considerable amount of teeth
- is unable to chew or speak easily due to missing teeth
- has a number of badly–decayed teeth
- has crowns and bridges breaking off
- has had root canals that, after time, are failing
- has lost confidence because of missing teeth
Dentures are divided into two main types: partial or full. Your dentist will determine what type of denture is best for you, based on cost and how many teeth are going to be replaced.
Your dentist will recommend full dentures after removing any remaining teeth and once all tissues have healed.
A partial denture has a metal framework, clasps or precision attachments that fit around your natural teeth. Partial dentures are generally used when you still have some healthy teeth, and can also be used as a removable alternative to bridges.
An overdenture is actually an improved removable version of a denture that is locked into place by using titanium implants that are surgically place and heal into the bone. Overdenture implants are also often referred to as implant dentures, implant-retained dentures, or implants. The difference from a traditional denture is that an overdenture is attached to natural teeth or dental implants instead of resting on the gums.
When overdentures are recommended, the implants will be placed first. Then, you will need some time to let them heal and bind to your jawbone. After healing, overdentures are fitted over the implants.
Pros and cons of dentures and overdentures, and what to choose
Although both options will give you all the general benefits, like being able to properly chew, talk, and—of course—smile, there are some special benefits that one option will give you over the other.
To start, the basic advantage of traditional dentures is cost. They’re generally more economical than overdentures and can provide you with the basic benefits in a shorter frame of time, more quickly leading to the restoration of your smile. In addition, a traditional denture bypasses invasive surgery, too. Though remember, if you have remaining teeth that need to be pulled, this procedure will come before your custom dentures are crafted and fitted.
Although they’re usually the least expensive option, traditional dentures still come at a cost. A traditional denture is going to require adhesives and regular purchases to maintain it in good condition, and you’re going to have to learn with a little trial and error how to keep it in place. Difficulty of chewing hard foods is common while patients adjust to full dentures.
On the other hand, an overdenture is packed with its own benefits. To begin with, an overdenture can provide increased stability to your restoration solution since they’re anchored to other teeth and dental implants. Removal does, however, sometimes require a visit to the dentist.
Like we said before, the implants at the “root” of an overdenture are made of titanium. That also means that, if you take good care of them, they can last a lifetime.
One potential drawback of overdentures compared to traditional dentures is cost. However, although overdentures cost more, they are more durable. Traditional dentures may be cheaper, but they will probably need repairing from time to time. So, in the long-run, an overdenture may be a more valuable option.
What option should Anna choose?
Both dentures and overdentures have their pros and cons. If you can live with the learning curve and regular maintenance, a traditional denture can save money in the short-run, and maybe this option is right for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more durable and stable option that will cost a bit more in the short-run but can be more valuable in the long-run, an overdenture might be your best option. In any case, always discuss these options with your dentist first.