What are Complete Dentures?
There are a wide variety of dentures available for people who are missing some or all of their teeth. But when dental professionals talk about “complete dentures,” they are referring to a complete set of teeth that totally replace either your upper teeth, your lower teeth, or both. Complete dentures are intended for people who have already lost their teeth or need to have their existing natural teeth removed. As you can imagine, for these people a complete set of dentures can improve the quality of their lives in so many ways!
Types of Complete Dentures
Generally speaking, there are three different types of complete dentures that are available to dental patients. These include the following:
- Conventional dentures are intended for people who have already lost their teeth and/or had their teeth extracted, and whose gum tissue has fully healed. They consist of a full set of upper or lower artificial teeth that are permanently mounted on a gum-colored acrylic base. The teeth are usually made from either acrylic or dental porcelain. The base is most often made from pigmented acrylic called polymethyl methacrylate or PMMA. In upper denture plates, the acrylic base covers the entire roof of the mouth, while in lower dentures the base is U-shaped to allow room for the tongue. Conventional dentures rest directly on the wearer’s gums, which means that natural suction helps to hold dentures in place. But the vast majority of conventional denture wearers use denture adhesive to hold the appliances more firmly in place and to prevent food particles from being trapped under the denture. Conventional dentures are removable by the patient and, in fact, should be removed and soaked in water or a cleaning solution overnight while the patient sleeps.
- Immediate dentures are usually intended to be worn temporarily while the patient waits for his or her permanent dentures to be made. Unlike conventional dentures, which are fitted onto already healed gum tissue, immediate dentures are fitted onto the patient’s gums immediately after the teeth are extracted. This provides some obvious benefits for the patient since it eliminates the problem of having to live without teeth for a period of time after the extraction procedure is complete. Immediate dentures also provide a good way to make the transition to wearing permanent dentures. Immediate dentures are also referred to as “temporary” because they’re intended to only be worn for a short period of time. However, some patients choose to wear their immediate dentures for longer periods of time. While this may work for some people, it means additional periodic trips to the dentist to have these dentures adjusted since the gum tissue changes shape as it heals.
- Implant-supported dentures are held in place by dental implants that are strategically placed in various locations inside the patient’s mouth. An implant consists of a metal rod (usually made from titanium) that is inserted into a patient’s jawbone. After a period of months, the metal rod fuses to the bone tissue, creating what is essentially an artificial tooth root. Once that is complete, the dentist affixes a porcelain crown to the top of the implant. The result is a completely real-looking tooth that functions exactly the same as a natural tooth. Implants are often an excellent way to replace individual missing teeth because they are a permanent solution and can be cared for in the same way as a patient’s natural teeth. But there are other uses for dental implants – namely, as anchors for dentures. There are two types of implant-supported dentures available: implant-supported fixed dentures and “snap-on dentures.” Although both types of appliances are held in place by implants, “fixed” dentures are permanently attached to the implants and are not removable by the patient, while “snap-on” dentures are removable and literally snap onto and off of the patient’s implants.
Whatever type of denture you choose, remember that it is very important to replace missing teeth. The benefits of replacing teeth are usually much more obvious for denture wearers who have lost all their top teeth, all their bottom teeth, or both. Having a set of comfortable, natural-looking dentures not only makes it easier to enjoy all your favorite foods and speak clearly; dentures also maintain facial muscles so that the natural shape of your face remains the same – even after you lose your teeth. And just as importantly, having an attractive set of functional dentures makes you feel better about yourself and boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem.
But even people who have no natural teeth left need to remember the importance of good oral hygiene. You should keep your gums and your dentures clean by carefully following the instructions provided by your dentist. And you should visit your dentist on a regular basis for oral exams.
If you are missing teeth, or if you need to have your teeth extracted, modern dental technology offers you so many choices for how to replace those missing teeth! And there’s no time like to present to start planning for your future oral health. For more information about complete dentures, and for help deciding which type would be best for you, contact your Austin, Texas dentist today.