Dentures

A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available: complete and partial. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.

Complete dentures

Dentures can be 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. 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. 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.

Partial dentures

A removable partial denture (don’t mistake it with a bridge which is a fixed prosthesis) 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. 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 has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance.

Attached dentures

Dental implants and bridges can be used to replace missing teeth eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. However, depending of the situation in your mouth “high-end dentures” might be an unavoidable solution. In many cases dentures can be “anchored” to dental implants and to natural teeth using several types of attachments.

How are dentures made?

The denture development process takes several weeks and several appointments. Once your dentist determines what type of appliance is best for you, the general steps are to:

  • Make a series of impressions of your jaw and take measurements of how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.
  • Create models, wax forms, and/or plastic patterns in the exact shape and position of the denture to be made. You will "try in" this model several times and the denture will be assessed for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast.
  • Finally several adjustment appointments will be necessary to make a denture comfortable.

Over dentures

Partial dentures can sometimes move as gums change shape. Securing the denture to an existing tooth is one way to solve this problem. After a stud is fixed to an adjacent tooth, the partial denture “clicks” onto this stud to secure it in place.

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