Dentures are artificial teeth that either completely or partially replace the natural human teeth. In common parlance, the complete replacement of a set of teeth is classified as “third teeth”, because every human being has two types of natural teeth during his or her lifetime: Milk teeth up to about 13 years of age (they are replaced from the age of six) and the second, regular teeth, which according to the genetic program should last until about 50 years of age. Of course they do not fall out completely by then, but all people should be prepared for the necessity of dentures from around the age of 40. The second natural set of teeth consists of 32 teeth including the four wisdom teeth.
Necessity of dentures and cost coverage by the statutory health insurance
If second teeth have to be removed or fall out completely, they can be substituted by dentures. They then take over the complete function of natural teeth, and food intake is possible without functional disturbances, just as with natural teeth. Aesthetic factors also speak in favour of thinking about dentures if several teeth are already missing. With regard to cost absorption, patients with statutory health insurance can count on regular care from the statutory health insurance, which grants a fixed subsidy of up to a maximum of 65 percent if medically necessary, but does not reimburse modern implant solutions. Rather, only those bridge or prosthesis solutions that are second-class from a dental point of view are subsidized. Better care benefits privately insured persons with adequate policies or those with statutory insurance with supplementary dental insurance, and the costs can be covered by between 70 and even 100 percent depending on the tariff. Implant solutions will also be reimbursed.
Types of dentures
Basically there are dentures, bridges, crowns, veneers and dental implants. The special dental bridges (partial dentures) are used for smaller tooth gaps. They only function with maximum stability if there are natural teeth to the right and left of the gap.
- Dental implants: A single tooth can be replaced with a dental implant. The implant is inserted into the jawbone and replicates the artificial tooth root. It is usually made of resistant titanium, which is fully compatible with the biological tissue and therefore in most cases is extremely healthy. For those patients who have an intolerance to titanium, we then choose ceramic implants. After an implant has been screwed in, the wound heals and then an artificial tooth is placed. The jawbone withstands the corresponding load very well and does not degenerate any further, as is usually the case when a tooth is lost.
- Dentures: Dentures are removable replacements, available as partial or total dentures. Even a partial denture can replace several teeth in both jaws (upper and lower jaw). If a patient needs a total prosthesis, it completely replaces all dental areas, a rather rare case that only occurs due to serious jaw or dental diseases with complete loss of teeth. It should be noted that a dental prosthesis requires regular check-ups by a dentist. He has to reline the denture from time to time, so that the tooth bones do not break down due to the movement of the denture.
- Veneers: These are ceramic half-shells that are glued onto the tooth surface as a dental prosthesis. A veneer corrects malocclusions, tooth gaps and discoloration, it is mainly used for aesthetic purposes. The functional purpose is rather limited, but many people choose veneers in the front teeth because of the significantly improved tooth appearance.
- Tooth crowns: If individual teeth are damaged, but still healthy in substance, crowns can be used as an adequate dental prosthesis. They also serve aesthetic purposes, the gold crowns that were popular in earlier years are well known. However, they also serve the functional preservation of the teeth. Nowadays, gold crowns (made of white gold alloys) are still used, but more often plastics and ceramics are used, which of course is purely for cost reasons. Visible gold teeth, however, are also considered aesthetically outdated, even though they are already being used as a status symbol in a certain subculture (for example by rappers). Every dental crown is used for the reconstruction of visible parts of the tooth, especially damaged front teeth can be repaired. Even molar teeth, where fillings are no longer possible, can be restored to their functional capability by a dental crown.