Edentulous refers to the quality of having no teeth, or few teeth. In humans, tooth loss is usually due to disease, accident, the aging process, or dental decay.
Humans may lose teeth for various reasons, most often as a result of poor dental hygiene. Common causes include periodontitis, or gum disease, dental caries, or tooth decay, and trauma to the mouth. Because routine access to dental care is a key method of preventing tooth loss, the rate of edentulism increases with lower socioeconomic status, lower income, and lower education level. This is likely correlated to the inability of many impoverished people to afford dental insurance, which inhibits their ability to practice proper dental hygiene. Other risk factors for becoming edentulous include advancing age, being female, smoking, poor health, chewing tobacco, and poor diet.
Becoming edentulous can pose several problems, functionally and cosmetically. Teeth are central to pronunciation of speech. Some sounds may require the tongue and teeth to contact, such as the sound of “s” or “t” in the English language. People missing teeth may also have trouble pronouncing English letter sounds such as “f” or “v,” which require the lips to touch the teeth. Tooth loss can also pose patients with difficulty chewing. A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available — complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
Complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate.” Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about 8 to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed. Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. In our Dental studio, Djordjevic/Mitic, we make both types of dentures.
As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.
In our experience, Implant supported dentures (or simply implant dentures) are a type of full overdenture that is secured in place by dental implants instead of simply resting on the gums as conventional dentures. Implant supported dentures can be used in either the lower or upper jaw, but generally upper jaw dentures need a larger number of denture implants for adequate support.
A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This “bridge” is then cemented into place. Not only does a partial denture fill in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. A precision partial denture is removable and has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance.