Removable dentistry is the perfect solution for patients who have lost either some or all of their teeth, or will be having them extracted. A complete denture, or partial denture is a viable treatment option. The complete denture is a removable prosthesis designed to replace all of the teeth on an arch with artificial teeth, while a removable partial denture is designed to ‘anchor’ to the remaining teeth.
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 8 to 12 weeks after teeth have been removed.
The full denture, like the one pictured here on the left, meant to replace all of the upper teeth, rests directly on the gums. It is removable, and it’s adhered using a special denture adhesive to help keep them in place and comfortable.
Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, you do not have to be without teeth during the healing period – which could put quite a crimp on your social life! However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth extractions. Therefore, the inherent disadvantage of ‘an immediate’ compared to conventional dentures is that they will require more follow up appointments at the office for adjustments in order to fit properly to the changes taking place in the gums. An immediate is more of a temporary consideration until a conventional denture can be made.
A removable partial denture consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum colored plastic base. This is then connected by a metal framework that holds the denture in place inside the mouth.
The picture here on the left illustrates a partial denture that is in place in the roof of the mouth. Notice the pink (gum colored) plastic base, the metal framework, all supporting the three visible teeth near the front of the smile.
Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. It fills in the spaces created by missing teeth, which in turn prevents them from shifting and changing position.
So How Exactly Are They Made?
Building a denture (and yes, it is a feat of engineering) can take from 3 to 6 weeks time spread out across several appointments. The initial appointment will be focused on collecting data about where your remaining teeth are in relation to each other and how they come together when you bite, as well as measuring distances from where your jaw hinges. A set of impressions will also be taken at this first appointment.
All of this information is then transferred to a lab and both clay and wax models will be fabricated in the exact shape and position of the denture that is to be made. The follow up appointment will enable you to “try in” the model several times and it will be assessed for color, shape, and fit, before the final denture is cast. We then send all of the information from the ‘fitting’ appointment back to the lab where they’ll cast the final denture.
The third appointment will be for fitting the final dentures and you’ll have additional follow-ups as needed to address any concerns with bite, sore spots, or any others issues that develop.
Many people are overwhelmed or frustrated at the number of visits required, and the length of time it takes to come home with a finished denture, however because the mechanics of your mouth are so individual, and most people want to be able to enjoy a good steak once in a while, it is imperative that it is built correctly from the very beginning.