Understanding Immediate Dentures
Immediate dentures are exactly what they sound like. They are dentures that are inserted “immediately” after all the teeth have been extracted. Immediate dentures are a temporary type of complete denture that is inserted immediately after any remaining teeth are extracted. This eliminates the need to be without teeth during the healing period before conventional dentures can be placed. While immediate dentures provide some benefits, they also come with inherent problems.
An immediate denture is created in advance of the tooth extraction surgery. Impressions are taken of the existing teeth and soft tissues. The denture is fabricated based on the patient’s current oral anatomy before any extractions take place. During surgery, any compromised teeth are removed. The immediate denture is then inserted right after extractions while the gums are still numb. The dental lab has to guess where the gum tissue and underlying bone will settle to. Thus, the immediate dentures do not fit well.
The advantage of immediate dentures is they allow patients to leave surgery with a new set of teeth in place. Patients avoid spending weeks or months without teeth while healing occurs. Having teeth after surgery aids chewing and speech as the gums heal and shrink. Esthetics are also preserved with a full set of same day teeth.
However, the fit and function of immediate dentures is initially poor and takes time to adjust. Since they are created before extractions and bone remodeling, immediate dentures do not fit properly after surgery. The gums and bone will change shape as healing progresses. This causes immediate dentures to become loose and uncomfortable over the first few months.
Speaking is challenging with the poor fit of immediate dentures. Lack of stability and cheek support makes proper pronunciation difficult. Patients need speech therapy to relearn clear speech patterns. As gums shrink and settle, immediate dentures also lose their ability to aid chewing. Soft foods that don’t require chewing are easiest to manage until denture fit improves.
Frequent denture adjustment appointments are required after surgery. As swelling resolves and tissues change, the dentures must be relined and adjusted for proper fit. This process takes several months until the gums are fully healed. Patients should expect 3-4 adjustment appointments over the first six months after receiving immediate dentures.
Since they are intended to be temporary, immediate dentures are made from inexpensive acrylic. The material wears down quickly and is prone to cracking or breakage in the first few months. Repairs and remakes are common until conventional dentures are created. Patients often express frustration with the fragile nature and poor performance of their immediate dentures.
Immediate dentures provide the benefit of same day teeth after surgery and prevent months of toothlessness. However, the poor initial fit and fragile materials make eating, speaking and denture care quite difficult. Patients need coaching and patience to adjust to the limitations of immediate dentures during the long healing period before conventional dentures can be made. While not an ideal permanent solution, immediate dentures do serve an important temporary function after extractions.