Are there any suitable alternatives to dentures? The answer, depending on your personal situation, is yes. Dentures are not the only method to help restore missing or damaged natural teeth. In some cases the alternatives to dentures may actually be preferred for physical reasons. And many potential denture wearers would simply not want to deal with the care and expense that a set of dentures would require.
When are standard dentures not suitable? When a person has had missing teeth for some time, but delayed getting dentures, the bony ridge may have shrunken so much that there is no longer a gum ridge to fit a removable denture onto. This can also happen to long term denture wearers as their boney ridges go through the process of resorption. Cases like these may become candidates for denture implants.
Denture implants involve surgically implanting a titanium rod directly into the boney ridge, leaving just the top of the rod above the gum line. Titanium is the metal of choice because bone tissue readily grows into it, bonding itself to the rod and making for a very secure mount. The gums are given time to heal so there is no swelling and denture teeth can then be mounted to the posts at the correct height. Denture implants may not be suitable if chronic diabetes is involved because the disease may interfere with the healing process.
When teeth are damaged, but still in good enough shape to be left in the mouth, then other denture alternatives may be quite beneficial.
Porcelain veneers offer a fresh start for your smile. If teeth are badly stained, chipped, worn or fractured, a porcelain veneer can restore the cosmetic look of the tooth and add another layer of strength. These veneers are shell-thin slices of porcelain that have been shaped to exactly fit the natural tooth. The veneer will be bonded, or cemented, to the front of the tooth, offering a pleasing facade.
Veneers are only used on teeth in the front of the mouth. It usually takes two visits to get them. In the first visit the veneers will be shaped to match the natural teeth. On the next visit, the veneers will be permanently bonded to the natural teeth.
Crowns and denture bridges may be other appropriate alternatives for standard dentures.
A crown is a metal cap that fits precisely over the existing tooth after it has been repaired. A denture bridge is similar to a partial denture but it is mounted by cementing it between the natural teeth. Denture bridges feel more like natural teeth than dentures.
As you can see, there are many alternatives to standard dentures, and your denture professional will help you sort out which type may be appropriate for you.