Removable prosthesis


A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available: complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.

Complete Dentures

Complete dentures can be either "conventional" or "immediate." Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.

Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.

Partial Dentures

A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is sometimes connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This "bridge" is then cemented into place. Not only does a partial denture fill in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. A precision partial denture is removable and has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance.

Are There Alternatives to Dentures?

Yes, dental implants can be used to support cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth.

Getting Used to Dentures

"I am resigned to getting partial dentures. I realise they are uncomfortable, but what I do fear more than the pain of removal, is the return to work. Will I sound like Daffy Duck? Are they horribly uncomfortable? I know I need them, but I am concerned!”

You will be surprised by how well you get on with the dentures. Millions of people have them and cope very well. Some useful tips and advice are as follows:

  1. It can take about one week for every decade old you are to get used to new dentures. It is important not to panic if they feel loose when you first get them- they should tighten up when they settle. Also your mouth learns to control them but this takes time.

  2. Often they will rub the gums a bit at first, meaning that they need to be adjusted by the dentist – so if you get an ulcer, this does not mean that you cannot or will not be able to wear them – just call the dentist!

  3. When you first get them talk to the plants/pets etc as much as possible to get used to talking with them in.

  4. Practice counting from 65 up to 70 as these sounds can be the hardest to get used to. Remember that your tongue and cheeks etc. are suddenly being asked to move in a different way- give them a chance to learn!!

  5. You should usually take them out at night- but keep them in for the first 1 or 2, as this will let your mouth get used to them being there. (You might find them in the sheets in the morning though!). Keeping them in for the first 24 hours also helps if you have had teeth taken out as it ensures that the gums heal in the best way.

  6. It is common for people to salivate more (which can affect speech) when they first get a denture – basically because the mouth thinks that the plates are big gob-stoppers! It’s not very often that a dentist will advise you to have sweets but it helps to have something like boiled sweets or mints (try to get SUGAR-FREE!!) for the first few hours of wearing your new plates. When you finish the sweet the salivation should naturally decrease and the mouth will not think that your dentures are food also!

  7. It sounds like you are getting immediate dentures (i.e. teeth extracted and the plates fitted on the same day). You will probably need the dentures relined, or new ones made in about 3 months. This is because the dentures are made as a ‘guess’ of what the gums will be like after the teeth come out. So if you do feel that you are struggling a bit, things WILL be improved upon in 3 months.

Very soon your dentures will feel like a part of you rather than foreign objects!

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