A denture, or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips. The teeth are made of plastic, porcelain or a combination of both. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated teeth and a complete denture can be attached to dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance. The good news is that dentures aren’t what they used to be. Newer materials and technology have allowed great improvements. Now we can fashion dentures that fit securely, appear natural and help you stay healthier.
There are several types of dentures.
A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed over a period of time. Complete dentures are custom made for you. The process involves multiple appointments where the doctor will take impressions of your mouth, you and the doctor select the size, shape and color of the artificial teeth, and the denture gets fitted in your mouth.
An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are allowed to heal under the denture.
A “flipper” is a partial denture that is intended to be temporary and replaces one or more teeth until another form of treatment (bridge, implants) can be made or decided upon. Such a denture can be placed immediately or soon after a tooth is extracted. Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated two different ways. The teeth are made of plastic, porcelain or a combination thereof. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated teeth and a complete denture can be attached to dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance. Natural teeth or even parts of natural teeth can help you retain bone in your jaw. They also can act as stable supports for bridges, over-dentures or removable partial dentures. Saving even a few natural teeth is often better than losing them all.
- An upper denture has acrylic, usually flesh colored, that covers the palate (roof of the mouth).
- A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue.
Dentures over a normal course of time will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. We will try to save as many of your natural teeth as possible. Although dentures may look like your natural teeth, they cannot work like them. Simple actions such as speaking and eating may feel different. You will have to learn how to use and adjust to your dentures. For some people, this can take up to several months. Regular checkups are still important so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.