What is a denture?

A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available — complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.

Complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate.” Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.

A Complete Denture is a removable prosthesis that replaces all teeth within an arch, thus some patients have only an upper denture, some only a lower and some have both upper and lower complete dentures.

Advantages of Complete Dentures

  • Least costly treatment for replacing all teeth in an entire arch
  • Esthetically pleasing
  • Shortest treatment time from start to finish

Disadvantages of Complete Dentures

  • They can feel very bulky, particularly upper dentures which cover the entire roof of the mouth
  • Lower dentures are rarely as stable as upper dentures because of various muscles, including the tongue, which all shift and dislodge the denture
  • Not all mouths are created equal when it comes to denture retention, thus, no matter how good a denture is made, some patients will never be able to have a comfortable and stable denture due to the anatomy of their jaws.  Other options exist to help such patients obtain stable dentures.
  • A patient’s jaw changes over time and dentures have to be relined occasionally to remain stable.

Types of Complete Dentures

  • Conventional Dentures

This style of Complete Denture involves having all of the teeth removed for at least 8 weeks prior to beginning fabrication of the denture.  This allows the tissues to heal from the extractions so that the denture will fit accurately and the tissue underneath the denture is no longer healing and changing shape.

Fabricating Complete Dentures in this way is very accurate, however, if a patient does not already have a denture, they would be without teeth during this time.  Understandably so, most patients do not want to function without teeth during this time.  This is where Immediate Dentures come into play.

  • Immediate Dentures

This style of Complete Denture involves extracting all of the teeth behind the canines (eye teeth) and allowing the tissue to heal for 8 weeks.  Thus, the patient can still smile during the healing phase.  The denture is then fabricated.  Once completed, the patient is scheduled to have the remaining teeth extracted and the denture delivered on the same day.  This means that the patient is never without front teeth.

Immediate Dentures will usually need to be relined within 3-6 months because of tissue changes that take place following the extractions completed at the day of denture delivery.

  • Over-Dentures

Over-Dentures utilize either existing teeth or dental implants to rest a denture over to aid in retention and stability.  There are many different ways design over-dentures.  Many are fabricated to literally “snap”  into place.  Refer to the “‘Snap-In’ Dentures” page of this website for more information.