Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic), nylon or metal. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps. Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. Sometimes, all the teeth need to be removed and replaced.
You may therefore need either:
Complete dentures (a full set acyrlic) – which replace all your upper or lower teeth, or
Partial dentures – either a Acrylic, Chrome Cobolt or Sunflex which replace just one tooth or a few missing teeth
Dentures can help to prevent problems with eating and speech and, if you need complete dentures, they can also improve the appearance of your smile and give you confidence.
A full denture will be fitted if all your upper or lower teeth need to be removed or you’re having an old complete denture replaced.
The denture will usually be fitted as soon as your teeth are removed, which means you won’t be without teeth. The denture will fit snugly over your gums and jawbone.
However, if you have dentures fitted immediately after the removal of several teeth, the gums and bone will alter in shape fairly quickly and the dentures will probably need relining or remaking after a few months.
Occasionally, your gums may need to be left to heal and alter in shape for several months before dentures can be fitted.
You can either see a dentist or a qualified clinical dental technician to have your dentures made and fitted. The difference between a dentist and a clinical dental technician (in terms of producing dentures) is outlined below.
A dentist – will take measurements and impressions (moulds) of your mouth, and then order your full or partial dentures from a dental technician.
A clinical dental technician – will provide a full set of dentures directly without you having to see your dentist (although you should still have regular dental check-ups with your dentist).
A trial denture will be created from the impressions taken of your mouth. The dentist or clinical dental technician will try this in your mouth to assess the fit and for you to assess the appearance. The shape and colour may be adjusted before the final denture is produced.
A partial denture is designed to fill in the gaps left by one or more missing teeth. It’s a plastic, nylon or metal plate with a number of false teeth attached to it. It usually clips onto some of your natural teeth via metal clasps, which hold it securely in place in your mouth. It can easily be unclipped and removed.
Occasionally, the clips can be made of a tooth- or gum-coloured material, although this type of clip isn’t always suitable, because it tends to be more brittle than metal.
Your dentist can measure your mouth and order a partial denture for you, or you can see a qualified clinical dental technician, who can provide a partial denture for you directly after you’ve first seen your dentist for a treatment plan and certificate of oral health.
A fixed bridge is an alternative to a partial denture and may be suitable for some people. Crowns are put on the teeth either side of the gap and joined together by a false tooth that’s put in the gap.
Looking after your dentures:
Dentures may feel a bit strange to begin with, but you’ll soon get used to wearing them.
At first, you may need to wear your dentures all the time, including while sleeping. Your dentist or clinical dental technician will advise you on whether you should remove your dentures before you go to sleep.
It isn’t always necessary to remove your dentures at night, but doing so can allow your gums to rest as you sleep. If you remove your dentures, they should be kept moist – for example, in water or a polythene bag with some dampened cotton wool in it, or in a suitable overnight denture-cleaning solution. This will stop the denture material from drying out and changing shape.