Dentures can be the most affordable treatment for replacing missing or severely damaged teeth and surrounding tissues. They may be fixed or removable and made from a range of quality materials, depending on your preferences and your price range.
Modern dentures have come a long way from the false teeth of the past and are chosen by people of all ages who want to replace their teeth and restore their smiles.
If you want to replace a single missing tooth, several teeth or a whole arch, your dentist can explain the pros and cons of dentures and the different options available so you're free to decide what's best for you.
Why choose dentures?
Missing teeth can affect your appearance, your oral health and your general health.
- Teeth rely on each other for support. When individual teeth are missing, the surrounding teeth may lean into the gap and go crooked, which can make them harder to clean.
- Having several missing teeth may affect your ability to speak clearly or to eat certain foods, which can have effects on nutrition and digestion.
- Your teeth also support your jaw and facial muscles, so losing teeth can lead to bone loss and a sunken or prematurely aged appearance.
Dentures can replace missing teeth to restore their function and appearance. Dentures may also be recommended to replace teeth that have been too badly damaged by trauma, disease or infection to repair. These teeth will need to be extracted before dentures can be placed.
It can take a few weeks to get used to eating and speaking with dentures, but after this adjustment period, you should barely notice you're wearing them. When your dentures are designed by an experienced prosthetist, they should look and feel just like natural teeth.
What are my denture options?
Your dentist will make sure you know all your options for teeth replacement and can recommend the best type of dentures for your needs. This will depend on how many teeth you want to replace and other considerations. These options may include:
- Full dentures
- Partial dentures
- Implant-retained dentures
- Immediate dentures
Read more about these options below and other things you should know about denture treatments.
Full dentures or complete dentures replace a full arch of teeth. This may be the best option if:
- all of the teeth in your upper and/or lower jaw are missing
- your remaining teeth are too damaged or unhealthy to save and need to be extracted
- you're replacing existing dentures
Full dentures can give you a functioning set of teeth that also support your face. These dentures consist of false teeth and gums attached to a base that attaches to the roof of the mouth (upper dentures) or rests on the gum (lower dentures).
Creating your custom dentures involves several appointments, as your dentist or prosthetist needs to take impressions of your mouth to make sure the dentures are a perfect fit. Final adjustments will be made to ensure your dentures fit comfortably and won't come loose.
Replacing a full arch of teeth with removable dentures is more affordable than the alternative of full arch dental implants, although dentures won't prevent bone loss in the jaw.
Partial dentures or a denture bridge can replace individual teeth or several adjacent teeth. They are designed to fit seamlessly between your remaining teeth and are usually attached to these teeth using metal wings or clasps.
Replacing missing or damaged teeth with partial dentures can prevent problems such as teeth shifting into the gap, an imbalanced bite and eating or speech difficulties, as well as restoring the appearance of your smile.
A partial denture consists of one or more teeth on an artificial gum base that covers the natural gum. These dentures are normally removable, or they may be supported by one or more dental implants in the jaw.
Implant-retained dentures or over-dentures are full or partial dentures that attach to dental implants secured in the jaw bone, rather than relying on suction or clasps to attach directly to the mouth.
This denture option has several advantages. Implant-supported dentures:
- are more secure than unsupported dentures and less likely to come loose
- can feel more comfortable and are less likely to develop sore spots
- allow you to eat a wider variety of foods
- support the jaw to prevent bone loss and deterioration
On the downside, placing dental implants involves minor surgery and associated clinical risks. These risks will be minimised when you choose a reputable dentist or oral surgeon for the procedure. Implant-retained dentures are also a more expensive option.
Depending on the type of implant-retained dentures you choose, the dental implant procedure may take several months to complete, as the implant needs time to fuse with the jaw bone. Other options include immediate dentures and full arch implants with dentures that can avoid this waiting period.
If you're having any teeth extracted and replaced with dentures, your dentist will normally recommend waiting for the gum to heal before they create your custom dentures. This is to allow any swelling to subside to ensure that your new dentures will be comfortable and well-fitted.
Gum healing can take 8 to 12 weeks on average, during which time you will be provided with temporary dentures so you can continue to eat and speak as normal. However, these temporary dentures may feel less comfortable than your final dentures.
This can be avoided with immediate dentures. These are custom dentures that are prepared in advance based on measurements of your mouth and your dentist or prosthetist's expertise. This avoids the waiting time of conventional dentures, but there can be a risk of immediate dentures not fitting well if the shape of your mouth changes following extractions.
As well as choosing the style of dentures you want, your dentist may also offer a choice of denture materials. The materials your dentures are made from can affect their cost, durability and care instructions.
Common denture materials include:
- Plastic (acrylic or nylon)
- Metal (such as cobalt chrome)
- Porcelain (ceramic)
- Composite resin
In the hands of a skilled prosthetist, these materials can be designed to look like natural teeth and gums. Acrylic dentures attached to a chrome base can offer a high level of strength and longevity, as well as feeling comfortable to wear.
How long do dentures last?
Dentures will have to be replaced after a number of years due to normal wear and tear, but you may need replacements sooner if your dentures are damaged, lose their shape or there are changes in your mouth.
How long dentures can last for depends on their materials and how well you care for them. Full dentures generally last from 5 to 10 years, while partial dentures may last up to 15 years. Your dentist will check the condition of your dentures when you attend your regular check-ups.
If you have implant-retained dentures, the underlying implants can generally last a lifetime, but the dentures themselves should still be replaced after a number of years.
Caring for your dentures
After fitting your dentures, your dentist will explain how to take care of them every day. Whether you have full or partial dentures, daily cleaning is important for removing bacteria, food and stains from your dentures and maintaining your oral health.
- Dentures should be brushed every day using plain water or a denture cleaning solution – not toothpaste, as this can damage their surface.
- If you take out your dentures overnight or at other times, store them in a cleansing solution to keep them moist, as this helps to maintain their shape.
A denture reline is recommended every few years or if your dentures have become loose or uncomfortable. This involves adjusting the shape of the dentures where they rest in the mouth.
Your dentist may recommend a hard reline or soft reline, depending on the problem you are experiencing. These can be carried out by your dentist, but take-home kits are also available for soft relines.
If your dentures are damaged and you rely on them to eat and speak, you should make an emergency appointment to see your dentist for denture repairs.
This may involve repairing or replacing a single tooth, multiple teeth or a damaged denture framework.
Damage to dentures is less likely when they are made from strong materials and you follow your dentist's advice about avoiding hard foods.
What are alternatives to dentures?
Your dentist will make sure you know all of your options for replacing teeth. These will depend on how many teeth you want to replace.
- Dental bridges can be an alternative to partial dentures to replace a single tooth or several teeth. A bridge is supported by crowns fitted over the teeth on each side.
- Dental implants can be placed in the jaw to support full or partial dentures or a bridge.
- Full arch implant restoration can be an alternative to or provide support for full dentures.
Free denture consultation in Brisbane
If you're thinking about dentures and want to know more about your options, book a free initial consultation with our dentists in Brisbane. Dentures at Face Value Dental are provided by our experienced prosthetist, Alan Chappell.
Healthdirect. Dentures [Online] 2021 [Accessed January 2022] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dentures