Dentures and partial dentures are used to replace missing teeth, however these prosthetics are removable. They are designed to fit in your mouth resting on gum tissue or remaining healthy teeth and are removed and cleaned regularly at home. There are various pros and cons to each appliance. Ask your dentist which might be best for you.
“Dentures” is a shorthand term that patients often associate with a complete loss of all teeth. In reality, “dentures” can be an all encompassing term used describe removable prosthetic devices replacing any number of teeth. We often split dentures into two categories.
A removable partial denture, or “partial” is a dental prosthetic used to replace missing teeth in the upper or lower jaw. A partial uses remaining natural teeth as anchors, often latches on to these teeth with plastic or metal clasps to help stabilize the denture during chewing and talking.
Pros of removable partial dentures:
Partials can be a very economical way to replace missing teeth. The number of teeth being replaced does not affect the cost of a partial denture.
A single partial may be able to replace every missing tooth in the arch.
Because a partial is removed, the prosthetic and remaining teeth are often easily cleaned.
Partials can be very sturdy and if cared for, can last for many years.
Cons of removable partial dentures:
Because of the lab time involved and the necessity of try-in and check up/adjustment appointments, the process of a partial may take several months and involve several appointments.
Remaining teeth used to clasp or support the partial must be healthy and structural sound. These teeth may need to be shaped or fixed to allow room for the partial and occasionally, anchor teeth need to be crowned to ensure they are strong enough to hold the denture in place during chewing and talking.
Partials may put stress on remaining teeth in the mouth and can weaken them over time.
Patients may notice changes in speech or chewing ability because of the shape and bulk required to make a strong partial.
Partials use metal or plastic clasps, plastic teeth and pink acrylic resin to hold the shape and replace teeth. These solutions and materials are less esthetically appealing than implants or bridges.
Loss of, or damage to remaining teeth may jeopardize the partial. If teeth are lost a partial may need to be repaired, modified or replaced entirely.
Small changes to the shape of the gums, the position of the teeth or even the patients weight may change the fit of the partial. Sore spots may develop and adjustments or repairs may need to be made from time to time.
A complete denture is a removable prosthetic used to replace all teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Dentures use plastic or porcelain teeth set in a pink acrylic base. Support for the denture comes from the gums, the remaining jaw bones and the muscles and tissues in the mouth. Complete dentures may be made to snap onto implants for added retention and support.
Pros of complete dentures:
Complete dentures are the least expensive way to replace teeth if they have all been lost.
Dentures can totally recreate a smile. The patient gets to select the size, shape, color and position of the teeth.
Complete dentures are usually very durable and can last many years.
Cons of complete dentures:
Because of the lab time involved and the necessity of try-in and check up/adjustment appointments, the process of a complete denture may take several months and involve several appointments.
Remaining teeth need to be extracted prior to the fabrication of the long term complete denture. A waiting or healing period of several months is required to allow complete healing and to ensure a proper fit. A patient may choose to have a temporary or “healing” denture made to wear during this period or elect to live without teeth for several months.
A certain bulk of acrylic material is required to give the denture adequate strength and allow it to stay in place. Some patients may not tolerate this material very well.
Patients may experience changes in speech and changes or limitations in chewing ability.
Dentures require a “learning” period where a patient must get used to taking and chewing with the prosthetic device. Over time, the muscles in the face will accommodate the denture and work to keep the denture in place but this process may take time. Some patients take several months to feel completely comfortable with their new dentures.
Certain foods or eating patters may never as they were with natural teeth. Many denture patients will never bite into a sandwich or apple with their front teeth again, and while improvements come over time, there will be some foods that cannot be eaten in the same way as with natural teeth.
Small changes to the shape of the gums and/or bones of the jaw, may change the fit of the denture over time. Sore spots may develop and adjustments or repairs may need to be made.
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