Franklin Park Dental Associates, Ltd.
General Dentistry

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Franklin Park, IL 60131
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TO TELL THE TOOTH : Read Dr. Pietrini's current monthly article

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To Tell The Tooth
Read Dr. Pietrini's current monthly article from the Fra Noi newspaper.


Full & Partial Dentures...

Dr. Pietrini writes a monthly column for Fra Noi, an Italian newspaper. Articles related to the topic of Full and Partial Dentures are featured below. Click here to view this month's article


George Washington's Wooden Teeth by Dr. Pietrini
Contrary to popular belief, George Washington never wore wooden teeth. He did have several sets of teeth made from various materials, such as human teeth, elephants ivory, hippopotamus tusk and gold. Throughout his life, he was plagued with dental problems, which may account for his reputation of having a short temper.

While the number of Americans who have lost all of their teeth has decreased by sixty percent in the last forty years, there are still millions of people who wear dentures. A significant number of these people have had false teeth for more than fifty years. As the patient ages, health problems can make it increasingly difficult for them to successfully wear their dentures. Certain medical conditions and medications can cause xerostomia (dry mouth). Saliva is necessary to lubricate the oral tissues and to moisten the food to allow proper chewing and swallowing.

There are three types of complete (full) dentures-immediate, conventional and overdentures. Immediate dentures are the most common and advantageous way for initial placement of false teeth. The dentist takes impressions and makes measurements of the mouth before the remaining teeth are extracted. The models of the patients jaw are prepared to estimate what the jaw and ridges will look like after healing has occurred. The denture is constructed and inserted immediately after the remaining teeth have been removed, so the patient does not have to be without teeth while the mouth is healing. Because the gums and underlining bone will continue to shrink for three to six months, it is often necessary to adjust the teeth when sore spots develop and to reline the dentures a few weeks after they have been placed.

Conventional dentures are made to replace old false teeth or when patients are willing to have all their teeth removed and then wait for several weeks for healing to occur. More accurate impressions of the healed ridges can be obtained and precise measurements and custom fitting of the teeth is possible.

An overdenture is a removable appliance designed to fit over implants or some of the patient's own natural teeth. Special attachments are placed in the denture that snap on to the implant or properly prepared teeth to help hold the denture in place.

Today, most dentures are made of a high quality acrylic (plastic). The teeth can be either porcelain or acrylic. It is usually best to use acrylic teeth. Even though they will wear a little faster than the porcelain type, acrylic teeth are easier to adjust and will not cause the ridges to shrink as quickly.

Initially, it may take some time to adjust to new dentures. I refer to the process as "dental gymnastics". It takes time and a lot of practice to learn how to feel comfortable speaking and chewing food with your new teeth. When dentures are fitted properly, patients should adapt rather quickly. After the dentures have been placed, it is advisable to have periodic examinations to check for sore spots and other oral lesions.

A Partial Solution by Dr. Pietrini

Our lives are often filled with compromises. Temporary repairs to a house or car might be necessary before a permanent solution is practical or affordable. When patients have one or more teeth missing, it is advisable to replace them with bridgework or dental implants to prevent the teeth from shifting. Long-term, the changing position of your teeth can increase your chances of developing periodontal (gum) disease, decay or problems with your bite. Depending on the health of the remaining teeth or the costs related to replacement of the teeth, utilizing implants or permanently, fixed-bridgework may not be the best option. Generally, removable partial dentures are a less costly alternative.

Besides cost, there are several reasons why these appliances are more practical:

·        The remaining teeth are periodontally compromised, so a partial can be used as a temporary measure to postpone the need for a complete denture

·        There are not enough teeth capable of supporting a fixed-bridge or the patient is not a good candidate for implants

·        When younger patients have lost teeth due to decay or accidents, a partial referred to as a “flipper” can be made until they are old enough for a permanent replacement

·        They can be used as a temporary replacement, while waiting for healing prior to placing an implant or fixed-bridge

Your dentist will take one or more impressions of your upper and lower jaws. Models will be made, along with a measurement of how the jaws fit together. A color guide will be used to select the shade of teeth that matches your remaining teeth. Usually, the models and bite registration are sent to a dental laboratory for construction. Most partial dentures are made of a durable acrylic (plastic) material with metal clasps (hooks) that attach to the teeth. Typically, a custom-made, metal skeleton (framework) is used to fit against the teeth and gums. The replacement teeth and the “gum-shaded” acrylic are molded to the framework. Often, a “wax try-in” is done prior to completion of the partial. This allows your dentist to check the bite and to give you the opportunity to check the shape, color and appearance of the teeth.

In next month’s article, I will discuss other designs of partial dentures and give you tips on the use and maintenance of appliances.

A More Complete Solution by Dr. Pietrini

Last month, I discussed some of the reasons why removable, partial dentures may be the best choice of treatment for some patients. There are several factors that will need to be analyzed before you and your dentist can determine what type of partial will be best for you—price, esthetics, the number and location of the missing teeth, periodontal health and whether the appliance is intended to be a long-term or short-term solution.

While it is intended that most partials be used for the long-term, there are several different options in design, function and types of materials used in their construction. Several variations of the traditional removable appliance, which is a combination of metal clasps (hooks) that fasten to the teeth and are embedded into an acrylic base, are available. When esthetics is a concern, a precision, partial denture may be utilized. To avoid the unsightly appearance of clasps on the front teeth, precision attachments can be placed. One part of the attachment is embedded in the base of the partial, while the other component is cast as part of a crown or bridge. These attachments snap together to hold the partial in place and are hidden under the base of the partial to improve cosmetics. Another variation of these appliances is partials or full dentures, which snap into dental implants or root canal treated teeth with precision attachments. These devices are referred to as over-dentures. The drawback to these appliances is they are more complicated to construct and are more costly.

Sometimes, patients require a temporary solution for replacing teeth, because:

  • Injury or disease can result in the loss of one or more of the front teeth necessitating a quick replacement, which allows time to determine what will be the best long-term solution
  • The patient has several teeth missing and eventually will need additional extractions making it possible to add teeth to the partial at a later date
  • When one or more back teeth are to be replaced with implants or fixed-bridgework, a partial can be made with a flexible material avoiding unsightly clasps

Patients frequently ask whether removable partials can result in early loss of additional teeth. Some studies have shown that over a ten-year period nearly half of the teeth that have partials attached to them will be lost. This problem can be minimized with good care and maintenance of the teeth and the appliance. It is necessary to thoroughly brush and floss all of your teeth, especially those that are used for attachments. A partial and/or complete denture must be brushed using toothpaste or a mild soap to remove plaque from all surfaces. Also, soaking appliances in denture cleansers or placing them in ultrasonic cleaners can be useful. Never place them in boiling water or in bleach. See your dentist for regular check-ups to help maintain the health of your teeth and to insure that your partial fits properly. 





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