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What Are Permanent Dentures?

By Lisa Russell ; Updated July 27, 2017

Baby boomers are in luck, just when time catches up with their teeth and gums, science brings forth new advances in permanent tooth replacement systems. Dental implants, also called partial dentures, are available now in every state. The process for installing permanent dentures is lengthy, but the advantage of being able to eat properly, and have your old smile back is worth it.


The Ancient Mayans were found to have used dental implants. A jawbone of a woman in her early 20s was found with seashells in her mouth. These shells had been sanded and polished to look like teeth and pressed through her gum tissue. Her jawbone had fused itself in places, to the "roots" of these fake teeth, much like modern dental implants use titanium, which the jawbone readily fuses with.


Aside from the aesthetic reasons a person may want a full mouth of teeth, dental problems often turn into digestion problems. With dental pain, or not enough teeth, a person isn't able to chew their food properly. Chewing is the first step in healthy digestion, food needs to be thoroughly mashed in the mouth and saliva needs to be pressed into it before it goes to the stomach.


Permanent dentures are customized for the patient's mouth, and can be either partial dental implants, meaning just a few teeth, or full dental implants, to replicate an entire mouth full of teeth.


The process of getting permanent dentures involves first consulting with a prosthetic dentistry professional, and creating a mold of the patient's gums. Then, a wax model of the patient's gums is made and artificial teeth are placed into the mold to determine where the teeth will fit. A mock-up of the final product is made and then "tested" by the patient, to make sure that it supports the lips in a flattering way and fits comfortably. At that point, titanium "anchors" are placed into the gums and allowed to heal. A final fitting, once the titanium has bonded with the jawbones ensures that the dentures will fit and then they are affixed into place.


Many patients prefer their permanent dentures because they will never shift in the mouth, and they don't have to worry about using glues or adhesives. Finally, since they don't shift, patients report less pain from rubbing or friction.


The cost of permanent dentures has been compared to the cost of a down payment on a new house. The true cost varies, in larger cities, it may cost more than in smaller towns. Some practitioners charge more than others. It's always wise to get a few consultations before choosing. For some patients, medicare or dental insurance may pay for the costs.


Prosthodontics is a specialty, and you may want to go outside your family dentistry office to find a practitioner who specializes in permanent dental implants.

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