Full or partial tooth loss effects more than your looks — it can also cause health and eating problems. Fortunately, there's a reliable and time-tested method for treating this condition: full or partial dentures.

Normal facial contours restored with dentures.

Dentures are just one option for replacing missing teeth; some of the others include fixed bridgework and dental implants. Each method has its own pros and cons. There are also several types of dentures including partial dentures and implant-supported dentures. The best option for you will depend on your individual situation.

How Do Removable Dentures Work?

Full or partial dentures are made of a gum-colored plastic resin base which fits over the bony ridge where your missing teeth once were. Teeth are fitted into the base. They are designed to look and act just like your natural teeth. Dentures are mainly held in place by the suction created by their close fit against the bony ridge — that's why it's so important that they are fitted properly. An upper denture gets extra support from the roof of your mouth (palate), which generally makes it extremely stable.

Many people find that wearing dentures takes some getting used to. Your movements for talking and eating will adjust as the dentures become “balanced”. Your muscles, nerves and ligaments learn to work in new ways. Dentures also give support to your face, lips and cheeks, which give you a more youthful appearance. Give it some time and you will find that the new dentures are wonderful.

Types of Full Dentures

Removable denture types.

Immediate Dentures: These are a temporary dentures. You get them as soon as your teeth are removed. You have replacement teeth immediately. When your teeth are extracted the muscles in your mouth change and your gum tissue shrink. For these reasons, the immediate dentures won't fit as well as permanent dentures made after your healing is complete.

Conventional Full Dentures: Once you are fully healed, permanent dentures with near-perfect fit can be made. These are personalized to look as much like your natural teeth as possible, and can last for a years.

Implant-Supported Overdentures: Have you heard about dentures that just don't fit? The roots of your natural teeth help keep your bony ridge strong. Once your teeth are gone, the bony ridge usually shrinks as you age. This makes it hard to keep your denture in place. This is true especially for your lower denture. You can make your denture very secure and stable with dental implants. Dental Implants are placed into the bony ridge. Your current denture is modified to snap onto the implant. TaDa! No more need for denture adhesives. Two to four implants are placed for each denture. Many people find this option offers great comfort, function and value.

Types of Partial Dentures

Transitional Partial Dentures: These inexpensive removable plastic dentures are also called Flippers. They are a temporary tooth replacement. Flippers are used to keep the space from your remaining natural teeth from moving into the area where the missing tooth used to be. They give time to heal from a tooth extraction or the placement of an implant. Once you get your new denture or implant crown you will not need the Flipper.

Removable Partial Dentures (RPDs): Partials are used to replace just a few missing teeth. They have a metal framework covered by gum-colored resin. They are light weight and can be modiied if you lose more teeth.

How Dentures Are Made and Fitted

Lab making denture.

Making quality dentures is a science and an art. First, an impression is made of the top and bottom arches of your mouth. A Dental Lab makes the base of the denture from this impression. Working together, the dentist and lab technician choose from among many different sizes and shapes of 'false' teeth to create a natural-looking smile. When everyone is satisfied with the result, the final dentures are made.

The final step is to balance your bite. Dr. Z makes sure the upper and lower teeth come together properly. The dentures are carefully checked to ensure that they are working and fitting properly.

What to Expect After You Get Dentures

If you've recently lost your teeth and received an immediate denture, it's normal to find some tissue shrinkage and bone loss occurring. Therefore, in several months you may find that your immediate dentures no longer fits well. You have two choices at this point: You can have your immediate (temporary) dentures re-lined. This means that material is added under the denture's base to better fit the new shape of your boney ridge. A better option is to make a set of conventional full dentures, which will last longer and fit better. With proper care, dentures offer a long lasting solution to the problem of tooth loss.

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