Dentures and Partials
What is a denture?
A denture is a removable appliance that substitutes for missing natural teeth and surrounding tissue. Dentures can be an affordable and time-effective solution for one or more missing teeth. There are two types of dentures:
- Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing
- Partial dentures are an option when some of your natural teeth remain; they also help prevent your remaining teeth from shifting.
The base of each denture is supported by your gum tissue and jaw bone. The upper complete denture covers your palate (roof of the mouth) while the lower complete denture is horseshoe shaped to allow room for your tongue. Traditionally, the upper base is held in place by suction and a thin film of saliva while the lower base relies on gravity. Dentures can also be securely supported and retained by dental implants.
Why should I care about how my denture is made?
New advances have made dentures more comfortable and durable than ever before. All of our dentures use the same high quality materials and are guaranteed for one year against breakage during normal use and wear.
Our lab makes the base of complete dentures using acrylic plastic formed by a high-impact injection-molded process. This process is slightly more expensive than a regular poured-acrylic process but the finished denture has a much better fit and a smoother, more natural appearance.
Almost all of the partial dentures we make are Valplast®, a flexible base material with a number of benefits over traditional metal-frame partials:
- more flexible and easier to insert
- stronger and more durable
- increased comfort
- a more natural appearance
Do I need a metal-base denture?
Metal-base dentures are recommended for patients who may be prone to breaking dentures or may have problems keeping the lower denture in place.
Metal-base dentures are complete dentures that have an acrylic-base supplemented with metal. On the upper denture the palate is replaced with metal and on the lower denture the metal is incorporated into the base.
While metal-base dentures are more expensive, they have some advantages over acrylic-base dentures:
- Increased denture strength resists breakage of the base
- The metal base conducts hot and cold, ensuring a natural experience of foods like coffee, tea, soups, ice cream, etc.
- Added weight makes the denture fit better on the lower jaw if there is a lack of bone support
Why should I consider implant-supported dentures?
Implant-supported dentures are the only denture treatment that helps prevent bone loss, helps preserve your appearance, and gives you completely secure protection against denture slippage and movement.
Consider implant-supported dentures to:
- Preserve bone loss that will occur with traditional dentures
- Maintain facial structure and support
- Increase denture stability
- Eliminate the need for denture adhesives
- Help reduce denture pain or discomfort from a poor fit
- Help improve eating habits to improve overall health
- Restore chewing ability - you can eat what you like!
- Improve speaking clarity
- Increase self-confidence while eating, speaking and being active
There are three kinds of implant-supported dentures:
- Implant-retained dentures: your denture snaps onto as few as two implants to lock into place.
- Implant bar-supported dentures: your denture snaps onto a bar that’s attached to 4 or more implants.
- Fixed crown and bridge dentures: multiple implants retain your denture with the advantage of using little to no base material. This is often the best option for people who cannot tolerate the palatal coverage of an upper denture. Your smile only shows teeth and your natural gums.
Your dentist can determine if you are a candidate for dental implants and which system would be best for you. Learn more about dental implants here or ask for a free denture implant consultation.
Three key reasons to replace missing teeth with dentures
- Your speech will be more normal with dentures than without teeth.
- You’ll have a beautiful white smile and - by filling out and supporting your mouth and lower face – you will retain a more youthful appearance.
- Well-fitting dentures protect your health by enabling you to comfortably eat a wider variety of foods. Effective chewing helps you absorb more nutrients, cuts down on gas formation (fewer burps), decreases the chance of choking on a large piece of food.
Five things to know about dentures
New dentures will feel awkward or uncomfortable for the first few weeks. They may feel loose, salivary flow temporarily increases, and there also may be minor irritation or soreness. These problems often diminish as your mouth becomes accustomed to your new dentures and the muscles of your cheeks and tongue learn to hold them in place. Follow the written instructions we gave you when you received your new dentures.
- Temporary denture discomfort: The main cause of denture discomfort is a change in the fit between your denture and your gums. If dentures loosen and move against sensitive gum tissue it can lead to soreness and swelling. Untreated, the problem can worsen until you won’t be able to wear your denture at all without severe denture pain. What to do? Remove your denture to increase blood circulation to the area and allow your gum tissue to breath. Be sure your gums are clean and your denture is clean and smooth. Call us to schedule an appointment for a denture adjustment if the pain is persistent.
- Temporary change in taste: With a full upper denture, the acrylic-base covers the roof of your mouth (palate) and covers some of the taste buds that line the palate. Additionally, taste buds along your tongue are also in contact with the acrylic denture base. This is why new denture wearers have that “plastic” taste no matter what they eat. The good news is that over time your taste buds and brain get used to the flavor of plastic and will learn to ignore it. You’ll soon be able to enjoy the flavor of your favorite foods in much the same way as before you wore dentures.
- Temporary change in speech: Your tongue must also learn to adapt to the placement of your new denture. Until it does, usually in a few weeks, pronunciation of certain words may sound different. This will be most noticeable on words which contain the “TH”, “T” and “S” sounds. Your goal is to shorten this process by reading out loud from a book or a magazine. You may also try counting aloud backwards from 100 when you are by yourself. What you are doing is giving the tongue muscles (there are 16 of them!) a chance to adapt to the thickness of your new denture/s. As soon as this happens your speech will be back to normal.
- Breakage: Although your dentures are made of quality materials they will not withstand the type of stress caused by chewing ice, popcorn kernels, hard candy and similar foods. Do not use your new teeth to open potato chip bags or cut pieces of thread. Treat your dentures with care and they will serve you well.
- Replacement: Dentures will generally need to be replaced every 5-10 years as your gums and bone change shape, teeth wear down and stain from normal use, and the base wears and thins over time.
Can I have dentures right after my teeth are pulled?
Interim dentures (healing dentures) can be inserted immediately after your teeth are extracted, not as a replacement for the conventional denture, but to wear during the 4-5 month healing interval.
In addition giving you an “instant smile”, interim dentures also help shape your gum and jaw bone as you heal. Interim dentures will not be as comfortable or functional as your long-term (conventional) dentures and are mainly for cosmetic purposes. It usually takes two to three visits prior to having your teeth extracted to prepare your interim denture.
Is a flipper right for me?
Flippers are the least expensive of all removable partial dentures and may be a temporary solution if you are missing only a few teeth in front. Flippers can be prepared before an extraction and then put in place as soon as your natural teeth are removed, but they do have some disadvantages:
- The acrylic flipper base has an irregular shape that may be hard to get used to.
- Flippers can break more often, especially if they are replacing lower teeth. The acrylic-base is made thicker to reduce breakage, but that can take some getting used to as well.
- Since the flipper base rests on the gums as your gums shrink over time the flipper will “sink” as well. The base may need relining and the teeth may need to be reset from time to time to keep the appearance natural, adding to the expense.
- Some people also find the clasps around adjacent teeth that hold the flipper in place to be unsightly.
How long does it take to get a denture?
We use the latest technology and finest materials to produce dentures that offer superior fit, function and aesthetics. The process of creating your custom dentures typically requires 4-5 appointments over the course of about three to four weeks. Initially, we take careful measurements and make highly accurate impressions (molds) of your mouth. Subsequent appointments focus on perfecting the fit, shape and color of your custom denture.
How do I take care of my denture?
When you receive your new dentures we will provide you with written instructions on how to care for them. As with natural teeth, proper denture cleaning, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are recommended to extend the life of your new dentures.
- Do follow all your dentist’s instructions regarding wearing and cleaning of dentures.
- Do rinse your mouth after eating to remove food particles that can cause mouth odors.
- Do clean your denture at least once a day.
- Do set a regular cleaning time to make it easier to remember.
- Do remove your denture and soak it overnight in cleansing solution. It helps keep your denture correctly wet until you are ready to wear it.
- Don’t use harsh, abrasive cleansers (like kitchen cleanser) – they scratch and damage the polished surface of your denture.
- Don’t use the family toothpaste – it’s not intended for dentures.
- Don’t try to change or repair your denture yourself – you may damage it.
- Don’t rinse your denture over an empty sink; fill sink ½ way with water so denture won’t crack if it slips out of your hand.
** If you plan to keep your old dentures as a spare set, always leave them soaking in water – do not just leave them on a shelf. You should also change the water at intervals.
Why do I need to see the dentist if I don’t have natural teeth?
Most dentists recommend an annual checkup for all denture patients. A quick exam and free oral cancer screening will help prevent problems with your denture and detect signs of disease of your gums, tongue, lips and cheeks. It’s not uncommon for our dentists to find suspicious areas on the tongue or along the inside of the cheek. If caught early, problems can usually be treated more easily and with a better outcome.
Dentures will last for many years with proper care. However, over time they will eventually require repair, readjustment or replacement. Regular visits to your dental professional will ensure that you enjoy maximum comfort and wear.
My denture is loose – what are my options?
Over time your mouth will change shape and size; gum tissue and bone will shrink. We offer three options at NHCCD:
- Have your denture relined by our laboratory. If your denture is still relatively new, a reline will resurface your denture with acrylic to more closely match the contours of your jaw. A reline may improve the fit, but it will usually not be as effective or long-lasting as getting a new denture.
- Have a new denture made. Because this starts a new process the denture will be custom made to the current shape of your mouth. We always take impressions from your mouth, not your old denture, so your new denture will feel much different. Expect an adjustment period (just like a new pair of shoes) as you get used to the new feel.
- Consider dental implants. Implants might be the best option available for you, especially for lower dentures that often cause the most problems. Even two implants in the lower jaw will keep your denture securely in place. Many times your current denture can be retrofitted with the snaps needed to secure it to the implants. Please read more about dental implants here.
What about denture adhesives?
Sometimes denture creams and adhesives can provide temporary help with denture comfort and fit. These products form a bond between your gums and the denture to help hold it in place. They really are intended for short-term use and you should call us for a denture adjustment or evaluation as soon as possible.
Help, my denture broke!
“I dropped my denture.” “I lost a tooth.” Yes, accidents happen, and usually at the worst time. We offer same-day denture repair service for missing or broken denture teeth and cracked or broken bases (base must be broken into no more than two pieces). However, “The dog chewed my denture” (we’ve seen that one too) can only be fixed with a new denture. We only do denture repairs, not magic.
How do I find out more?
Call or email us to schedule a a comprehensive denture consultation if you are considering dentures or are ready for replacements. You’ll receive:
- The benefits of working with experienced denture dentists with the skills developed from making up to 300 removable prosthetics each year.
- Your dentist will listen to your needs and concerns and provide you with options and recommendations based on that, as well as a written treatment plan.
- Our administrative team will also be available to discuss financial options that will help you fit denture care into your budget.