A removable denture is the oldest form of tooth replacement.
Dentures are made of either a light-weight metal alloy or all acrylic material with clasps to help keep them in place. There are two types of dentures available: full and partial dentures. Full dentures are used when all the teeth are missing and partial dentures when some natural teeth remain.
Full dentures can be made for patients with no teeth. A few appointments are required to accommodate the full process. You will likely experience some discomfort and sensitivity whether it’s your first full denture or a replacement one. After fitting them in, some minor adjustments will be necessary over a couple of appointments. Time allows the soft tissue to get accustomed to the new denture. Learning to eat and talk will also require some time and practice. Consult your dentist for more information on methods used and their advantages and disadvantages.
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Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. When a tooth is removed, it is recommended that it be replaced without delay to prevent drifting of adjacent teeth. Failure to do this may make it impossible for either a partial denture or any other procedure to be done at a later stage.
A partial denture usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-coloured plastic base, which is connected by metal framework to hold the denture in place in the mouth. Apart from filling in the spaces created by missing teeth, partial dentures prevent other teeth from changing position. Partial dentures can be used as a permanent method to replace teeth or as an interim replacement treatment before advancing to a fixed more costly option of a bridge or implant.
Denture development process takes about three to six weeks and several appointments. The following are general steps taken once your dentist determines the best appliance for you:
- 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 colour, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast
- cast a final denture
- adjustments made as necessary
Alternatives to Dentures
A bridge or dental implants are alternatives that can be used. It is more costly but implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative to dentures but it is not suitable for everyone. Consult your dentist for advice.