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Immediate Dentures

A transition which can be traumatic both emotionally and physically

A Consultation with Dr. Walter “Jack” Turbyfill

Dear Doctor,
I had my four remaining upper teeth removed last year. They were replaced with a full upper plate (denture). It has never fit well, it is uncomfortable and quite problematic. I cannot chew and I'm having jaw pain. Can I get a plate that is fixed in place and cannot be removed? I have no insurance and will have to pay on my own. Please HELP!

Immediate dentures

Dear Kathy,
Sorry you're having such a difficult time. First things first — if you're experiencing pain, go and see your dentist and let him/her examine your mouth to make sure that everything is healthy, and that there is nothing causing an underlying problem that is unrelated to the denture. If all is well, then we can focus on the problems with the denture itself.

Typically when people lose their last remaining teeth and “convert” to a full upper denture, it can be quite traumatic, both physically and psychologically. These types of appliances are actually called “immediate dentures,” because they are placed immediately following the extractions so that patients are never without teeth. This way, the patient's physical appearance is maintained and the ability to chew and speak is not compromised. The psychological part, at least for some, is that it's difficult to lose their last natural teeth and learn to feel comfortable with “false” teeth.

“Immediate dentures” are placed immediately following extractions so that patients are never without teeth.

However, these immediate dentures are rather temporary in nature. As healing progresses after the teeth are initially removed, the gums shrink, sometimes quite a lot, leaving space underneath the dentures which can then move around. The dentures become difficult to tolerate making eating and speaking difficult. The best thing to do at this stage is simply to have the dentures “relined,” which can be carried out by your dentist in no more than a day or two. This relatively quick and inexpensive procedure usually makes them fit better and is a good interim remedy.

Once your healing phase is complete, your dentist will make your final denture. A new and accurate impression of your jaw will be necessary. This impression will be very accurate because all of your extraction sites have healed. The new denture will provide you with the greatest stability that a denture can attain for you personally, given the amount of bone support remaining. At this point, you will decide whether or not a denture satisfies your needs physically and emotionally. If you are not happy, see your dentist and ask about your restorative options. Those options include adding implants to improve your denture retention and stability or it may be possible to have enough implants placed to create a fixed bridge that will be just like your natural teeth.

The patient's physical appearance is maintained and the ability to chew and speak is not compromised.

These options are not inexpensive, even for those with dental insurance, since the maximum dental insurance usually covers about one to two thousand dollars a year, and only a few companies cover dental implants at all.

It's probably best to go to your dentist to get an evaluation to find out exactly what's causing your discomfort and discuss all the many wonderful options available to people in your situation today.