Alternative orthodontic treatments have long been available but may not always be as comprehensive as orthodontics.
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More adults are living longer and healthier lives. According to U.S. Census data, more than 12 percent of the population is age 65 or older. And, among adults ages 35 to 44, 60 percent have lost at least one permanent tooth. So, as life expectancy increases and the baby boomer population ages, the need for versatile dental treatment options is necessary.
Since dentures come in a variety of forms, they may provide a solution for people who have lost teeth, according to an article in the April 2006 issue of AGD Impact, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) monthly newsmagazine.
Dentures, which are removable pieces for missing teeth and adjoining tissues, can replace some or all teeth. Complete dentures replace all of the teeth and are recommended for people with very few or no teeth. Partial dentures fill in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevent other teeth from shifting.
There are many benefits to having dentures, including improved chewing ability, improved speech, and support for facial muscles. For those reasons, dentures can greatly enhance a patient's facial appearance and smile.
However, Maharukh Kravich, DDS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson, says that in her experience very few patients require full dentures. "Older patients are keeping their natural teeth for longer periods of time," says Dr. Kravich. Partial dentures are ideal when "surgery is not advised or adequate bone support is impossible."
First-time denture wearers should keep in mind that they will need time to get accustomed to their new teeth, because even the best-fitting ones will feel awkward initially. Normal speaking ability usually resumes after final denture placement, and it is often recommended that new wearers start with soft, easy-to-chew foods.
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