A pair of WHAT??????? You might well ask!!!!!
Though many of you probably already know, some of you may not! George Washington, born February 22nd, 1732, the first President of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers – had DENTURES!!!!!
George Washington’s false teeth
George Washington had suffered with poor dental health throughout his adult life. Toothache and dental pain is well documented in his diaries and from the age of 22, he began to suffer tooth loss – at the time he was inaugurated as President he had only one remaining tooth. Now, contrary to popular myth, he never had wooden false teeth. He had several sets made over the years which were made of various materials such as gold, elephant ivory, hippopotamus ivory and even human teeth. In fact, the pair he wore at his inauguration were made of hippopotamus ivory with gold wires and brass screws. If you are interested, you can view his false teeth at the University of Maryland’s National Museum of Dentistry
Thankfully, dentures have come a long, long way since then. Just check out the difference in the next picture showing how they look now.
Modern day dentures.
So, what are dentures? Well, basically they are prosthetic (artificial) devices made by your dentist to replace missing teeth. They are usually supported or kept in place by the surrounding soft and hard tissues (i.e. gums or remaining teeth) in your mouth. Instead of ivory and gold, they are now usually made from acrylic, though in some cases they may be made from porcelain.
The type of denture you may have depends on how many of your teeth are missing, and where the missing teeth are situated in your mouth. A removable partial denture is used when a patient is missing some teeth in a particular arch (upper or lower teeth) of their mouth. Fixed partial dentures (also called a bridge) is a denture that replaces or spans a gap where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed partial denture can only be removed by a dentist as it has been cemented or bonded into place. Although fixed partials are more expensive, they are more stable on the mouth than removable partials. Complete dentures are used in the case of a patient who has lost all of their teeth in a single arch. The term “complete” applies to either the upper or lower teeth. In some cases a patient may only have an upper (maxillary) or lower (mandibular) complete denture and in other cases they may need both upper and lower dentures.
Why would you need dentures? There are many reasons that people lose teeth. Dental disease such as periodontitis (gum disease) or tooth decay is probably still the most likely cause. However, trauma such as facial injuries, malnutrition, development issues and drug use can also cause tooth loss resulting in the need for dentures.
How do they help? Firstly, most people would agree that teeth help make a mouth beautiful and drastically improve appearance. They also align the face properly providing support for the cheeks and lips. Proper alignment of teeth and subsequently aligning the jaw properly, can help with easing headaches, shoulder and neck problems. Teeth also help with language, in that they help you enunciate words properly and make it easier for others to understand you. They help with the intake and digestion of food, allowing you to properly chew (masticate) food before swallowing, and lastly, they will improve your self-confidence and self-esteem.
What Happens when I need dentures? Once your dentist has established that you will need dentures, you will need to have several appointments set up for different stages of the process. In this instance we will look at the basic process of having a full set of dentures done, though please bear in mind that in each and every instance, the patient’s experience will be different.
Step 1 – is having a custom impression made of your mouth.
Step 2 – is your dentist taking lots of measurements of your mouth. These measurements check the size and placement of teeth as well as your bite. So that your new dentures will feel just like your natural ones.
Step 3 – will involve “try-in’s” of the wax version of the new dentures. At this time your dentist will make any necessary adjustments before submitting the wax denture to the lab for fabrication of the final acrylic dentures.
Step 4 – is the delivery of the final dentures.
Step 5- will involve making adjustments to keep your dentures comfortable.
Before Dentures and After Dentures
The whole process can take as little as six weeks. Though, as I mentioned before, every patient and every set of dentures is different and the time taken from start to finish will depend on how many adjustments ultimately need to be made.
Once you have your new dentures and both you and your dentist are happy with them, you will usually only need to visit the dentist once a year for a check-up, to make sure everything is still OK. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns between visits you should contact your dentist straightaway.
What to expect now I have my new dentures? No-one can promise you a totally hassle free experience. Dentures are a foreign object and as such will take some time to get used to and of course, every patient will have a different experience. You may find that your dentures feel bulky and uncomfortable. You may feel that your speech is slurred and that you salivate more. You will need to learn how to chew again and it might be best to start with softer foods until you get used to the new dentures. To adapt more quickly, you might find it better to wear your dentures all the time and only remove them for cleaning – though once you have become accustomed to them you should remove them at night so that you can soak them. Remember, more than anything, time and patience are the biggest elements of getting used to dentures.
How do I care for the dentures? Firstly, handle them carefully and be sure you don’t bend or damage them. Like any teeth, you should brush them after meals and at least brush them morning and night. Your dentures may need to be removed after eating to remove any debris that may get caught beneath them. When you remove your dentures, remember to brush your gums and mouth also with a soft brush. Soak your dentures overnight in a special denture cleaner. Do not use anything other than a cleaner specially made for dentures as regular toothpaste and cleaners can be too harsh. Remember to always rinse the dentures before you put them back in your mouth to eliminate traces of the denture cleaner.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of dentures. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us or send us a comment here, or via facebook.com/ypsilantidentist.