Dentures are used to replace missing teeth that can be taken out and put back into your mouth. There are generally two types of dentures available: complete dentures and partial dentures. The type that is needed can be determined by your dentist. Typically complete dentures are used to replace all teeth and partial dentures are used when you still have some of your natural teeth in place.
Dentures have a brief adjustment period and never feel exactly the same as one's natural teeth. However they are designed to be comfortable and functional and have a similar appearance to natural teeth, improving the smile and facial appearance.
Depending on the type of denture you need, complete, partial or fixed, will determine how the dentures fit and function. Dentures are custom-made in a dental laboratory from impressions of your mouth that your dentist will take in a preliminary evaluation.
Complete dentures contain a gum colored acrylic base that fits over your gums. The base of the upper denture covers the palate (roof of your mouth), and the lower denture is horseshoe shaped to accommodate the tongue. Complete dentures can either be "custom" or "immediate."
Custom dentures are made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal. This type of denture is ready for use about 3 to 6 months after tooth removal. Immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed, so that the wearer does not have to be without teeth for the healing period as in conventional dentures. The disadvantage to this is that they must be relined several months after being inserted. Bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. For this reason immediate dentures should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures are made.
A removable partial denture usually is made of replacement teeth attached to a gum colored plastic base, which rests on a metal framework that attaches to your natural teeth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed bridge will replace one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them.
The partial denture not only fills in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. They are removable and have internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to adjacent crowns for a look that is more natural-looking and comfortable.
A fixed partial denture is a restoration that replaces the space where one or more teeth have been lost. As its name describes, a fixed partial denture does not need to be removed from the mouth for cleaning. A fixed partial denture is bonded or cemented into place only a dentist can remove it.
Generally a bit more expensive than a removable partial denture, a fixed partial denture, when indicated may feel more stable and comfortable. A fixed partial denture also helps maintain the natural shape of your face and may help support your lips and cheeks. Your appearance, dental health and the proper functioning of your mouth all are important reasons for wearing a fixed partial denture.