Major tooth loss can make daily life very uncomfortable. It will not only affect your ability to speak properly; it can also keep you from eating the foods you enjoy. For the many people out there who have lost several or all of their teeth, dentures remain one of the best options for improving oral function and bringing back the beauty of their smiles.
If you’re considering a denture application, it would be beneficial to know more about this particular cosmetic dental procedure before visiting the dentist’s office. Learning about the different types of dentures will help you identify which one is the most suitable for your needs.
When people hear the word “dentures,” it’s usually the image of complete dentures that often comes to mind. This is the type of denture that many seniors are wearing (if they’re wearing one). Complete dentures are also called full dentures because they replace all of the patient’s teeth, either in the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. They sit on top of your gums and are easily removable. They are held in place by suction, but most denture wearers also use oral adhesives to keep their false teeth from moving, especially when they’re talking or chewing. Full dentures are usually made from porcelain or acrylic resin, but some may have cast metal as part of the base. If you’ve had teeth extracted, it’ll take anywhere between 8 – 12 weeks before your dentist can install them.
“Partials” fill in the gaps created by missing teeth. They are the typical option for those who still have a couple or more natural teeth left. Like complete dentures, partials are convenient to wear and removable, which means you can take them out at night or for cleaning (or whenever you want to, really). They are fitted to the specific area of the gum line where they’re going to sit and are fastened to nearby natural teeth to keep them in place.
There are three different kinds of partial dentures, classified according to the material from which they are made. You can choose from acrylic partials, metal partials, and flexible partials. Each, of course, with its corresponding advantages and disadvantages.
Acrylic partial dentures are the cheapest, but they’re also the weakest because acrylic, alone, isn’t strong enough to stand bite forces. Acrylic dentures are more for temporary use and not a suitable long-term tooth replacement solution.
Metal partial dentures are the most common type of partial dentures. The false teeth sit on a solid metal framework, which also anchors them in place. Metal partials are strong (unless you drop them), stable, and affordable, but they’re not a great option for replacing missing front teeth as the metal clasps tend to show.
Flexible partials are a newer and more advanced partial denture option. They’re made from resilient and durable plastic that looks very similar to natural teeth. Flexible partials are a better option for front teeth replacement because their pink plastic clasps are less noticeable than metal ones.
Implant-supported dentures are also known as overdentures. As their name implies, this set of complete dentures anchors into dental implants, which provide them with stability and allow the dentures to stay in place. Dental implants are replacement tooth roots that are surgically positioned into the jawbone. They are made up of the implant itself, a metal post, and a crown that looks very similar to a natural tooth. Typically, you’ll need at least two dental implants to support an overdenture. Implant-supported dentures are a great alternative if you find traditional dentures extremely uncomfortable or unstable. Some people also find this type more comfortable.
Custom-made dentures are usually made of more expensive teeth, crafted and fitted to complement the rest of your face. Most custom dentures are digitally-designed in a lab and use 3D technology to give you a more natural-looking smile. If you’re all about aesthetics and have the money to splurge, custom dentures may be the ideal tooth-replacement option out there for you.
About the Author
Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle is the lead cosmetic dentist with Dental Studio 101 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is focused on providing anxiety-free cosmetic dentistry services including invisalign, dental implants, dental crowns and cosmetic fillings. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her friends and family.