Dentures are removable appliances that are designed to precisely and comfortably rest on top of the gums that cover the jawbones. They consist of natural-looking artificial teeth set in a supportive base. In addition to offering a cost-effective solution for the replacement of missing teeth, dentures are quite versatile. They can be used to replace either a few teeth that have been lost or all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaws.
While conventional bridgework and dental implants offer fixed solutions for rebuilding complete smiles, partial and full dentures are removable oral appliances. This means it’s possible to take dentures out of the mouth to clean and maintain the health of the underlying tissues and any remaining teeth, as well as clean the dentures themselves.
Types of Dentures
Full dentures, also known as complete dentures, can effectively replace all the upper teeth, lower teeth, or both the upper and lower teeth. As with other types of dental solutions, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for every case. The ultimate design, fabrication, and insertion of a full denture can vary based upon a patient’s specific needs.
Conventional Full Denture
This type of denture is fabricated and placed after all of the remaining teeth are removed, and the surrounding tissues have adequately healed. Fabricating a full denture when healing is complete supports a precise and comfortable fit.
- Immediate Denture
With an immediate denture, a patient does not have to go without teeth while waiting for complete healing of the extraction sites. Although an immediate denture offers the advantage of not having to go without teeth for any length of time, it can require a reline and adjustments as the tissues remodel and heal. In some cases, for optimal comfort and fit, a conventional denture may eventually be required.
An overdenture is a type of complete denture that receives added stability and support from special attachments that are secured to the remaining underlying teeth or specialized dental implants.
- Implant-Supported Dentures
As the name implies, this type of denture attaches to a select number of strategically placed implants in the upper or lower jaw. These small surgical posts provide precise points of attachment for the overlying denture and add a significant measure of stability and retention.
In situations where some sturdy teeth remain, partial dentures can offer an effective solution for the replacement of missing teeth. Partial dentures typically achieve adequate retention and stability with clasps or precision attachments on the teeth adjacent to the edentulous areas (the spaces formerly occupied by the missing teeth). They also stabilize the dentition and bite and prevent unwanted drifting of the remaining natural teeth.