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 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.
It is important to replace missing teeth if you want to keep a healthy smile. When teeth are missing, the remaining teeth can shift into the missing spaces and become crooked. It is hard to clean crooked teeth and it can lead to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) diseases.
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.
It takes practice to put in and take out a removable partial denture. It may feel odd for the first few weeks. But in time, you should get used to it. The partial denture should fit into place easily. Never force it into place by biting down. This could bend the clasps. If you have a problem with your new partial denture, talk to your dentist. It may need an adjustment.
Your dentist can tell you how long to wear the removable partial denture and when to take it out. If the denture puts too much pressure on one spot, it may cause a sore spot on your gum tissue. Usually your dentist will make follow-up appointments to look for pressure points or sore spots and to adjust your denture so it fits comfortably. Your dentist may tell you to take out the partial denture at bedtime and put it back in when you wake up.