Dentures, or “false teeth”, can be used as a replacement for just one missing tooth to a replacement for a full arch of teeth.
Full dentures are used to replace a full arch of teeth. These comprise a base made of a hard plastic called acrylic which hold the replacement teeth. The replacement teeth are usually also made of acrylic but in some cases porcelain teeth are used.
Partial dentures are used where some teeth remain. Partial dentures have their base made in a metal called ‘chrome cobalt’. This allows for a very precise fit between the denture and the teeth that support and retain it. Like in a full denture, the teeth can be either acrylic or porcelain. The teeth are attached to the Chrome Cobalt base with pink acrylic.
Immediate dentures are a slight variation on the theme. In most cases, the process of producing dentures begins after the teeth have been extracted. In some cases, the patient has hopeless teeth that have to be extracted but doing so prior to making the dentures would mean they would have to spend some time with neither teeth nor the denture. To avoid this, special techniques are used to construct the denture in advance, and the denture is fitted at the same appointment as the teeth are extracted.
Unfortunately, this process does not allow for the construction of as well fitting dentures as would be possible if the impressions were taken a while after the teeth were extracted, and relining the fitting surface of the denture is usually required within a few months.
Implant-supported dentures are a significant improvement that we are now able to offer our patients. Implants can be used to support and retain partial or full dentures. Their greatest benefit is in stabilising lower full dentures.
Relining of denture fitting surfaces can help to keep dentures as comfortable and functional as possible. From the moment a tooth is extracted the bone that was supporting the tooth starts to resorb. Initially, the loss of bone is usually very rapid and slows down with the passing months and years. While it slows down, the loss of bone never stops. As the bone ‘shrinks’ the dentures become increasingly loose. Relines can help to extend the life of dentures before new ones need to be made.
Care of Dentures
Care of dentures is very important. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, as the saying goes. Dentures should be cleaned at least twice per day. Place some water in the basin (to help cushion the blow if you drop the denture) and then use a toothbrush and some soap to thoroughly scrub the denture. About once a week or fortnight, it is beneficial to soak the dentures overnight in a proprietary denture cleaner or even neat white vinegar.
NEVER try to adjust dentures yourself, especially bending the metal clasps of partial dentures. The metal is extremely strong but at the same time very brittle, and clasps are easily broken if bent.
If a tooth should ever break off your denture or the denture base itself break, please try to avoid using superglue to repair the denture. The repair will fail in a matter of hours and the glue on the denture makes repairing a lot more difficult for the dentist.