As part of our prosthodontics services at Greater Baltimore Prosthodontics, we provide full or partial dentures to patients who require tooth replacement. Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth and the tissues around those teeth. Patients with some natural teeth remaining are good candidates for partial dentures and patients missing all their teeth have the option of full dentures for teeth replacement. Dental implants are becoming a popular alternative to full or partial dentures, but for patients who aren’t good candidates for implants, dentures can restore their smile and allow them to speak and eat more naturally than they can with missing teeth.
Complete dentures explained
There are two main types of complete dentures, and they’re conventional or immediate. Which type a patient receives depends on their particular circumstances and preferences.
- Conventional full dentures
- Dental professionals create conventional dentures after removing the patient’s teeth when the gum tissue has started to heal. Conventional dentures receive placement in the mouth 8-12 weeks after extraction of the teeth.
- Immediate full dentures
- Created before tooth removal, immediate dentures receive positioning as soon as the dentist extracts teeth. This means that the patient doesn’t have to go without teeth while their mouth is healing, but as gums and bones shrink over time, immediate dentures can require more adjustments to achieve a proper fit. Immediate dentures are often a temporary solution until a patient receives conventional dentures or dental implants.
Partial dentures explained
Partial dentures or bridges consist of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. Sometimes metal framework holds the base in place in the mouth. When a patient is missing one or more natural teeth in the lower or upper jaw, a partial denture is a common solution. Fixed bridges also replace one or more teeth through an artificial tooth attached to crowns on teeth on either side. A dentist will then cement fixed bridges into place, but precision partial dentures are removable. Both bridges and partial dentures fill the space of missing teeth and prevent other teeth from shifting position.
After the prosthodontist determines the best type of appliance to replace a patient’s missing teeth, the process to develop dentures can take a few weeks and several appointments. The dentist takes impressions of the patient’s jaw and measures how the upper and lower jaws work with each other and the space between them. From those measurements and impressions, the dentist creates wax forms, models and plastic patterns in the precise position and shape of the dentures being made so that the patient can try the model on to assess fit, shape, and color before final denture casting. Following the final denture casting, the dentist makes any necessary adjustments to ensure a comfortable fit in the patient’s mouth.
Adjusting to dentures
New dentures can feel odd or loose to patients when they first receive them but eventually the muscles of the tongue and cheeks help keep dentures in place. There can be initial soreness and minor irritation when patients first start wearing dentures, but these issues diminish over time. Designed to resemble natural teeth closely, there’s a minimal noticeable change in a person’s appearance, and dentures can even improve a smile and fill our facial appearance in patients who have had missing teeth. Speaking properly with dentures may take some practice, and if a patient experiences any denture clicking while talking, they should contact their dentist for an adjustment.
It takes practice to learn how to eat with new dentures and patients may have to start with softer foods in small pieces. Over time, denture wearers adapt to the appliances, and for those who have had difficulty chewing due to missing some or all of their teeth, dentures greatly increase the range of food they can eat. When wearing dentures, patients need to avoid hard or sticky foods and be cautious with hot food or those with shells and sharp bones as these can damage the dentures.
Full and partial dentures help restore a person’s smile and preserve their facial structure, which prevents a sunken appearance. Dental implants are an alternative to dentures that work for many patients, but dentures are ideal for those who want their smile back without undergoing the dental implant procedure. Contact Greater Baltimore Prosthodontics to learn more about our denture options and the possibility of dental implants for tooth replacement.