Dentures are a replacement for missing teeth and surrounding gum tissue. They are designed to give a similar appearance to natural teeth. As they are not attached, they have limitations on how they function. They are worn during the day and removed at night while sleeping. Complete dentures are an option when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are an option when some natural teeth remain. Dentures can be a workable way to replace teeth when other methods, such as bridges and implants, are too costly. Dentures are classified as either “complete ” or “partial”. Complete dentures are designed to replace all of the teeth in the upper or lower arch, where as a partial denture is designed to place artificial teeth in the gaps between remaining natural teeth. It usually requires three or so visits to our Boulder Dental Office to complete the process of getting a new set of dentures. During the first visit, we will evaluate the condition of any remaining teeth, the jaw bone configuration and alignment. There may be treatment needs for these issues before proceeding with a denture. After evaluation a plan will be made to address these needs. At subsequent appointments, necessary preliminary treatment can then be performed. Appointments for impressions, jaw relation and esthetic appearance can then be done to have the denture fabricated. After the dentures are delivered it is often necessary to have adjustment visits to address fit and sore spot issues. Dentures often require future relines to maintain a good fit to the remaining jaw ridges.
If there are no remaining teeth, then a removable complete denture is made and adjusted for initial fit without the need for other treatment. Complete dentures are sometimes done as “immediate dentures”, that are delivered at the same appointment, when remaining teeth are removed. Immediate dentures are designed to be used while the mouth is healing from the necessary extractions. This is done so that it is not necessary to go without teeth for a length of time. These immediate dentures will require a healing period during which adjustment for comfort will be necessary. An immediate denture needs to be relined for a better fit after a few months, due to shape changes in the jaws bones ridge as it heals. This separate procedure will result in an improved fit of your new dentures. The downside of immediate dentures is that the jaw bone contours change during the healing process. Immediate dentures usually have to be continually adjusted for comfort as the mouth goes through the healing process. Complete dentures need to be removed during sleeping and require regular cleaning.
A partial denture is a removable prosthesis to replace missing teeth and gum tissue. It is usually held in place by arms that surround remaining teeth. It can be made in an all acrylic or a cast metal frame based acrylic. This is a good way to replace missing teeth without the higher expense of attached “fixed” prosthetic teeth like a bridge. Partial dentures need to be removed during sleeping and require regular cleaning.
Over time, the jaw bones will diminish in size and shape. The contour changes will make it more difficult to keep the the dentures in place. These changes can come from:
- Bone loss in the jaw
- Mouth infection
- Body weight change
- Degradation of the denture appliance
- Healing of extraction sites with immediate dentures
- Extended use of poor fitting dentures
When one of these occurs, it is recommended that the existing denture is relined for an improved fit. Relining simply creates a new contour of the denture base to match the changes that have occurred in the mouth. We can typically have your dentures relined in as little as 24 hours. The denture would have to be left at our Boulder dental office during the reline process. The denture may require adjustments after the reline process.