Generally speaking, there are two types of removable dental prosthesis – removable partial dentures for people who are missing some of their teeth, and complete dentures for people who are missing all of their teeth. Tooth decay, gum disease, and facial injuries can lead to tooth loss. Depending on how many teeth are lost, dentures may be necessary.
Types of denture
There are many different types of dentures available. They type of denture that is best for you depends on the condition of your oral health and your lifestyle. The most common types of false teeth include:
Complete dentures, also known as full dentures, are removable replacements for a patient’s entire set of teeth. They are completely customized and restore the shape and look of natural teeth. Conventional dentures also improve mastication, which means the patient can crush, grind, and eat food normally again.
If your chewing functions were normal before denture placement, the functions will be much less than with natural teeth or implants. The lack of anchorage in the bone means you are not able to produce as much chewing force.
Many patients also develop speech impediments, such as a lisp, with complete dentures. This is due to the thickness of the material covering the palate (which is necessary and cannot be thinned). Some people adapt to it over time, while others do not.
Complete dentures are the last option for a patient after all other tooth restoration options are ineffective. False teeth do not prevent bone shrinkage, and sometimes, poorly fitting teeth can contribute to it. Only a dental implant will preserve the bone and prevent it from shrinking after tooth loss.
Candidates for complete dentures include:
- Elderly Patients — a “complete edentulous situation” (lack of teeth) is most common in elderly people (65+). This is because tooth loss relates to age, especially geriatric patients (those with diseases and problems due to old age).
- Younger Patients — in rare cases, young patients may also be candidates for complete dentures. This is only the case if they lost all or their teeth due to an injury or from severe tooth decay.
Removable Partial Dentures
Unlike complete dentures that replace all teeth, removable partial dentures (RPD) only replace some missing teeth. An RPD consists of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base.
Removable partial dentures are built onto a cast metal framework for strength. They restore the natural look, feel, and function of your teeth. RPD’s can be removed at any time and replaced easily. They are most commonly recommended for patients who cannot get a dental bridge (implant-supported bridge).
There are two types of removable partial dentures available, including:
- Cast Partial Dentures — cast partial dentures are made of tissue colored acrylic (gums), replacement teeth, and a metal framework that holds all of the materials together. Dentists recommend these dentures when one or more natural teeth remain in the lower or upper jaw.
- Acrylic Partial Dentures — acrylic partial dentures, also known as “flippers,” are made of acrylic resin and mimic the look and function of natural teeth. They come with or without clasps of wrought wire. Acrylic false teeth are temporary because a patient’s gums entirely support the teeth. Long-term use can lead to gingival recession.
Fixed partial Dentures (Implant-Supported Bridge)
Fixed partial dentures (FPD), also called implant-supported bridges, use existing teeth as abutments. Abutments refer to the surrounding teeth that serve as the main support for the denture. FPD’s replace a few missing teeth in a row with two dental implants.
Unlike complete and removable partial false teeth, implant-supported bridges are not removable. These permanent dentures restore one or more missing teeth in a row when strong natural teeth are present on both sides of the missing ones.
Implant-retained dentures, also called overdentures, do not permanently attach to dental implants. They click into place and latch onto the abutments (metal posts). Implant dentures support more than one tooth and, oftentimes, an entire set of teeth.
Implant-retained dentures increase stability and improve chewing function better than traditional dentures. However, you must remove them every night for cleaning and tissue rest.
In traditional dentures, after all of a patient’s teeth are extracted, they must wait at least 6 to 8 weeks before false teeth are placed. This gives the extraction site and jawbone enough time to heal.
Removable immediate dentures can be used directly after your natural teeth are extracted. Although convenient, immediate dentures are more challenging than traditional dentures because they are not molded specifically to the gums.
What to Expect When Getting Partial or complete Dentures
Generally consist of 4 visits:
- During the first visit a mold or impression is taken of all the teeth.
- The second visit consists of bite and custom teeth shade selection.
- Third visit consists of trying the teeth and making necessary adjustments.
- Forth visit consists of the final delivery of the partial or complete dentures.
- Follow up visits are needed for adjustments.
Best ways to clean partial or complete dentures
Caring for your dentures:
- Your dentist can recommend a denture cleaner.
- When cleaning a denture, it’s a good idea to stand over a folded towel or a sink of water just in case you accidentally drop the denture.
- Do not use toothpaste since it can be too harsh for cleaning dentures.
- Some people use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid to clean their dentures, which are both acceptable. However, most household cleaners are too abrasive and should not be used for cleaning dentures.
- Brush the denture each day to remove food deposits and plaque. The helps the denture from becoming permanently stained.
- It’s best to use a brush that is designed for cleaning dentures because it has bristles that are arranged to fit the shape of the denture. A regular, soft-bristled toothbrush is also acceptable.
- Avoid using a brush with hard bristles, which can damage the denture.
- Clean your dentures by thoroughly rinsing off loose food particles. Moisten the brush and apply the denture cleaner. Brush all denture surfaces gently to avoid damaging the plastic or bending the attachments.
- A denture could lose its proper shape if it is not kept moist. At night, the denture should be placed in soaking solution or water. Your dentist can recommend the proper method for keeping your dentures in good shape.
- Don’t chew, swallow, or gargle with denture cleansers.
- Always thoroughly rinse the denture before placing it in your mouth.
Complications with partial or complete dentures
Denture slippage is a common denture problem. New dentures take time to get used to. At first, you might notice your denture slipping out of place when you talk or eat. If the dentures continue to slip, there might be a fit issue that needs to be adjusted by your dentist. For example, the metal framework or resin clasps might not fit snugly enough to hold the dentures in place.
Denture slippage can also happen to people who have had their dentures for a while. Over time, the remaining teeth can shift or the gum tissue can recede. Dentures that once fit perfectly can start to feel loose and uncomfortable. If this happens, see your dentist. The dentures can be adjusted or re-made if necessary. In some cases, a denture adhesive could help.