Dentures can be fixed or removable, partial or full, and implant supported or not.
Dentures are a replacement for missing teeth that can be removed at night or whenever needed. If all of the teeth on a single arch are missing, a full denture is used to replace them. When only some teeth are missing, but not all, a partial denture is used as a restoration. Dentures restore your smile as well as your ability to speak and eat.
Full dentures, also known as complete dentures, are fabricated only after all teeth in an upper or lower arch have been extracted and the gum tissue has completely healed. Once this has occurred, a dental laboratory can create custom-fitted dentures to our specifications with an acrylic base that sits over your gums to hold your prosthetic teeth in place. The process may take several weeks, as it is important to wait until the gums have fully healed from any tooth extractions before fitting the mouth for dentures.
That said, there are circumstances in which an appliance called immediate dentures can be used to replace the missing teeth on a temporary basis until the jaw has healed from the extractions. While immediate dentures may sound like an ideal option because they don’t require the wait of conventional complete dentures, they become loose very quickly and typically need to be relined in six months to a year.
Partial dentures may either be attached to a metal framework that is clipped onto the two teeth adjacent to the denture or attached to crowns. Partial dentures are different from bridges, however, because bridges are permanent and partial dentures are designed to be removed. Overdentures are also another possibility—they are used when more teeth are missing than appropriate for a partial denture, but not enough teeth are missing for a conventional full denture. This type of denture fits over the remaining teeth, which provides the overdenture with more stability than typical dental adhesives might since the teeth are anchored to the jaw.
For a more secure option that helps maintain bone density in the jaw, consider implant-supported dentures. Dental implants provide a stable base of support for full and partial dentures, and because implants are used to hold the dentures in place, adhesive pastes are not necessary. Implant-supported dentures allow you to bite, chew, speak, and smile more comfortably than traditional dentures.
No matter what type of dentures you choose, you can expect to have to replace them periodically. Because implant-supported dentures are anchored by dental implants, they do not need the frequent relining and adjustments than conventional dentures require. To care for your dentures, you will need to clean them with a soft-bristled brush as directed each night to remove plaque and food debris, and then place them overnight in a glass of water or denture cleaner to keep them from drying out. Your tongue and gums, too, will need to be cleaned twice a day with a soft-bristled brush or washcloth.