Dentures and Partial Dentures

Almost as good as the real thing.

Dentures and partial dentures are custom-made replacements for missing teeth and can be taken out and put back into your mouth. While dentures take some getting used to, and will never feel exactly the same as natural teeth, today’s dentures are more natural looking and more comfortable than ever.


Benefits of dentures and partial dentures

Replacing missing teeth can help to improve your appearance and smile. Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag, sometimes making a person look older. Dentures can help you eat and speak more comfortably.

Dentures are replacements for missing teeth that can be taken out and put back into your mouth. While dentures take some getting used to, and will never feel exactly the same as one’s natural teeth, today’s dentures are more natural looking and more comfortable than ever.

There are two main types of dentures: full and partial. Your dentist will help you choose the type of denture that’s best for you based on whether some or all of your teeth are going to be replaced and the cost involved.


How do dentures work?

With full dentures, a flesh-colored acrylic base fits over your gums. The base of the upper denture covers the palate (the roof of your mouth), while that of the lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to accommodate your tongue.

Dentures are custom-made in a dental laboratory from impressions taken of your mouth. Your dentist will determine which of the three types of dentures described below is best for you.


Conventional full denture

A conventional full denture is placed in your mouth after all remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed. Healing may take several months during which time you are without teeth.

Seattle Smiles Dental – Full upper denture

Full upper denture

Seattle Smiles Dental – Full lower denture

Full lower denture

Immediate full denture

An immediate full denture is inserted immediately after the remaining teeth are removed. Your dentist takes measurements and makes models of your jaw during a prior visit. While immediate dentures offer the benefit of never having to be without your teeth, they must be relined several months after being inserted. The reason is that the bone supporting the teeth reshapes as it heals, causing the denture to become loose.

Partial denture

A partial denture rests on a metal framework that attaches to your natural teeth. Sometimes crowns are placed on some of your natural teeth and serve as anchors for the denture. Partial dentures offer a removable alternative to bridges.

Seattle Smiles Dental – Partial denture

Partial denture before it is placed on teeth and gums

Seattle Smiles Dental – Partial denture

Partial denture in place resting on “anchor” teeth and gums


Seattle Smiles Dental – Acrylic-only Partials

Acrylic-only (metal-free) style of partial denture

Seattle Smiles Dental – Cast-metal style of partial denture

Cast-metal style of partial denture

How long before I get used to my dentures?

New dentures may feel awkward or uncomfortable for the first few weeks or even months. Eating and speaking with dentures might take a little practice. A bulky or loose feeling is not uncommon while the muscles of your cheeks and tongue learn to hold your dentures in place. Excessive saliva flow, a feeling that the tongue does not have adequate room and minor irritation or soreness are also not unusual. If you experience discomfort, see your dentist.


How long do dentures last?

Over a period of time, your denture will need to be rebased, relined or remade due to normal wear. Rebasing means making an entirely new base while keeping the existing denture teeth. Relining reshapes just the underside (the part that makes contact with your gums) of your existing denture to match your current gum and bone structure.

Also, as you age, your mouth naturally changes. These changes cause your dentures to loosen, making chewing difficult and irritating your gums. At a minimum, you should see your dentist annually for a checkup to evaluate the oral tissues and your denture. If you have remaining teeth as in the case of a partial denture, you should continue to see your dentist every 6 months for an exam and professional cleaning.


Tips for caring for your dentures:

  • When handling your dentures, stand over a folded towel or basin of water. Dentures are delicate and may break if dropped.
  • Don’t let your dentures dry out. Place them in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in plain water when you’re not wearing them. Never use hot water which can cause them to warp.
  • Brushing your dentures daily will remove food deposits and plaque and help prevent them from becoming stained. An ultrasonic cleaner may be used to care for your dentures, but it does not replace a thorough daily brushing.
  • Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures. This stimulates circulation in your tissues and helps remove plaque.
  • See your dentist if your dentures break, chip, crack or become loose. Don’t be tempted to adjust them yourself — this can damage them beyond repair.

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