When the decision has been made that the remaining teeth are non-salvageable and indicated for extraction in preparation for the transition to a full denture, there are two basic alternatives. The first alternative would be to extract the remaining teeth, and wait several weeks or months for the areas to heal before making the denture. Most people usually don’t choose this option because it means that they will have to function without any teeth during this time. As you would expect, most patients would find this objectionable, and therefore in most cases, this is not the chosen alternative. The other alternative, which is the far more popular choice, is that of an immediate denture.
Frequently Asked Questions about Immediate Dentures
What is an immediate denture?
An immediate denture is one that is placed immediately after having the remaining upper or lower teeth (or in some case both) removed. With this technique, the patient is able to have the esthetic benefit of having a denture placed at the time of extraction of the teeth, so that he or she can wear this prosthesis during the time that the extraction sites are healing. This way the patient will not have to go without teeth for any period of time.
Will this be my permanent denture?
In many cases, the immediate denture will indeed be the final denture, although in most cases it will require modification several months down the line to accommodate the changes that occur in the shape of the gums and bone during the healing process. In other cases, the patient may decide to use the immediate denture as a temporary denture and make a permanent when the healing process is complete. Of course this the ideal course of action when the expense of the permanent denture can be included as part of the treatment budget.
Doesn’t it hurt more to place a denture over the area where I had the teeth taken out?
As you would expect, there is always a certain amount of discomfort involved whenever several teeth are removed. In most cases however, the denture actually acts much like a bandage over a wound, and may actually make the surgical sites more comfortable.
I heard that there are pressure sores that develop after the denture is placed. Is that true?
After the denture is placed, there is a normal settling process that takes place, usually beginning in the first few days after the surgery. This settling of the denture may cause small pressure sores to develop. Your dentist will see you for regular visits after placement of the denture, and the areas where the denture is rubbing excessively are trimmed and smoothed. These sores will heal, but the denture may continue to settle, and new sore spots may develop. This is normal, and adjustments may be required for up to the first month following placement of the denture.
Can I get the surgical phase of treatment done in one visit?
This depends upon how many teeth need to be removed. Ordinarily, this can be done in one visit. There are times however, when there may still be many back teeth remaining, and your dentist may prefer to have the surgical phase of the procedure performed in two stages.
When will my dentures be comfortable?
As mentioned above, it is normal for there to be pressure sores that develop due to the settling of the denture. These areas normally resolve quickly when the dentist makes adjustments to the locations on the denture that are causing the sores. It may take up to a month before the dentures are completely comfortable. This is a normal part of the experience of becoming accustomed to the new prosthesis, so don’t be discouraged early in the process, when it seems that it is taking a long time for things to feel better.
What kind of things can I eat after the surgery?
It is not necessary to maintain a strictly liquid diet. You can advance to soft foods and then regular foods when you feel comfortable enough to do so.
If the dentures are somewhat loose after the surgery, can I use denture adhesives?
If it acceptable to your dentist, it is O.K. to use denture adhesive with the immediate denture. Right after the procedure though, it is important to be careful to avoid placing the adhesive in the areas where there may be stitches.
What is a reline?
Because of the changes that will take place in the shape of the jaws after healing is complete, the denture, which may have fit well immediately following the procedure, may now not fit as well. The reline will allow for a better fit after the changes that have taken place in the jaws during the healing phase.
There are two types of relines.
The first is called a soft reline. This is often done at the time of surgery or shortly thereafter, if the shape of the gums and the bone immediately after extraction of the teeth doesn’t closely match the shape predicted by the lab, and the denture is loose when it is placed. This is a temporary lining material that gives a custom fit at the time of the procedure, so that the denture fits better. Remember though, as time goes on, the gums and bone will change shape, and the immediate denture will most likely become looser as time passes and the gums and bone shrink during healing. This may require another temporary soft reline for stability of the denture before the healing is completed, but in most cases, the patient is able to use the denture after the initial soft reline until sufficient healing has taken place to either permanently reline the denture, or replace the temporary denture with the final prosthesis. This soft relines are done free of charge as a courtesy to our patients here in Smile 32 Dental Centers.
The hard reline or permanent reline is done several weeks to several months (depending upon how well the jaws have healed) after the surgery, when the gums and bone have finished healing. Keep in mind we charge in advance for the hard relines.
When does the reline have to be done?
This decision is made by the dentist, and may be from several weeks to several months after initial placement of the denture. It is done when it has been determined that there is unlikely to be any further significant change in the shape of the jaws due to further healing.
Will I be able to eat the same things that I could when I had teeth?
Dentures are still prosthetic devices, and it is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to eat everything that you once could with your natural teeth. Most patients however, are able to eat a wide variety of foods with minimal difficulty.
What happens if after all of this, I still have trouble with the dentures moving around?
Your dentist will talk to you about dental implants, which are sometimes used to help stabilize dentures, when lack of good stability is a problem. Your dentist will determine if you may be a candidate for this type of treatment.