Full and Partial Dentures

Your dentures may need to be adjusted or replaced over time. Your mouth naturally changes as you age, and bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, causing the denture to fit loosely.

A full denture, also called a complete denture, replaces all of the natural teeth and provides support for cheeks and lips. By replacing missing teeth, dentures not only support sagging facial muscles, but also improve a person’s ability to speak and eat. Full dentures are divided into two categories according to when they are made and inserted into the mouth.

Conventional dentures are made and inserted after the remaining teeth are removed and the tissues have healed. Immediate dentures are inserted immediately after the removal of the remaining teeth. An advantage of immediate dentures is that the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, immediate dentures may require rebasing or relining to fit properly after gums shrink from the healing period.

A removable partial denture fills in the space created by missing teeth and fills out your smile. Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework, and attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or precision attachments. Precision attachments are nearly invisible, but often require crowns on your natural teeth for a precise fit, and generally cost more than those with metal clasps.

An overdenture fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth. These teeth have been prepared by the dentist to provide stability and support for the denture.

What will a denture feel like, and how long will it take me to get used to wearing a denture?

New dentures may feel awkward or bulky for a few weeks, and while it is not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness, these problems should diminish as you become accustomed to the denture/s.
Full dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep then in place, and saliva flow often temporarily increases. One or more follow-up appointments with the dentist are often necessary after a full denture is inserted.

Your partial denture should fit with relative ease; however, inserting and removing it will require some practice. Never force the partial denture into position by biting down, as this could bend or break the clasps.

Both full and partial dentures require care when cleaning them. You should stand over a towel or basin of water when handling dentures in case you drop them, particularly a full denture, which can break if dropped even a few inches. You should brush your dentures twice a day to remove food and plaque and to prevent your dentures from becoming permanently stained. It is best to use a brush that is designed for cleaning dentures, but a regular, soft-bristled toothbrush is also acceptable.

Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, or use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid. Other types of household cleaners and many toothpastes are too abrasive and should not be used for cleaning dentures.

Begin cleaning your dentures by rinsing away loose food particles. Moisten the brush, apply the denture cleaner and brush all of the surfaces, carefully scrubbing to avoid damage.

Both partial and full dentures may lose their shape if allowed to dry out. When they are not worn, dentures should be placed in a soaking solution or in lukewarm water. Partial dentures with metal attachments could tarnish, so please check with the dentist for proper care methods.

Your dentures may need to be adjusted or replaced over time. Your mouth naturally changes as you age, and bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, causing the denture to fit loosely. Because loose-fitting dentures can cause sores and infections, it is best to see the dentist regularly to check the fit of your denture and make any necessary adjustments.