Getting dentures is a big change and can take some getting used to. There are a wide variety of denture types available, but not every type is suitable for every mouth. Depending on your particular dental needs your denturist will be able to recommend which type of denture is best for you.
Types of Dentures
This handy guide is here to help you learn more about the different types of dentures and help you determine which type is best suited to your unique needs.
Complete dentures, also called full dentures, are what we picture most often when we think of false teeth. Complete dentures are designed for individuals with no remaining natural teeth, are removable, and are held in place using suction. There are two types of complete dentures: Immediate dentures and Conventional dentures.
Immediate dentures are made before any of your remaining teeth are removed. During your first visit, your denturist will take measurements of your jaw and teeth and create custom models of them so they can create dentures that are unique to you and your mouth. Once your teeth have been extracted your denturist will fit you with immediate dentures. The main benefit of immediate dentures is to provide you with teeth during the healing process, which can take up to six months. During the healing process your bones and gums may shrink, so your immediate dentures may need to be relined in order to ensure they continue to fit you properly.
Once your gums and jaw have completely healed you graduate to your conventional dentures. Conventional dentures, like immediate dentures, are removable and held in place by suction. You should remove your dentures before bed and give them a thorough cleaning each day just like you would with your natural teeth.
Partial dentures, which can also be called “removable partial denture prostheses” or “partials”, are similar to complete dentures. However, as the name suggests, partial dentures are used when you still have some of your own natural teeth but they are not strong enough to support a bridge. They may also be used if you are missing a fair number of teeth but your remaining teeth are healthy enough that they do not need to be removed.
Partial dentures are made up of one or more artificial teeth and are held in place by clasps which your denturist has fitted onto your adjacent teeth. Partial dentures are removable, and you should take them out before bed and clean them thoroughly before you go to sleep.
A bridge, also called a “fixed bridges” or a “fixed dental prosthesis”, is similar to a partial denture. The key difference is that bridges are not removable. Bridges can be used to replace one or more missing teeth and extend across an area that has no natural teeth left. All bridges are custom made to fit your mouth.
There are several different types of dental bridges:
If you have healthy teeth on either side of your bridge your denturist will file down the healthy teeth so that the bridge can sit comfortably on top of them.
If you don’t have healthy teeth or enough teeth necessary to support a bridge your bridge will need to be supported using dental implants. We will talk more about dental implants in the dental implants section of this post.
Resin Bonded Bridges
Resin bonded bridges, also known as “Maryland bridges”, are typically only used when you are missing teeth at the front of your mouth. This type of bridge is created by fusing artificial teeth together using metal bands. The bands are then connected to the back of your natural teeth using dental cement.
Cantilever bridges are used when you have healthy teeth on only one side of your missing tooth or teeth. A cantilever bridge is anchored in place by fitting it over one or more of your natural adjacent teeth, and unlike a traditional bridge is secured on only one side.
A dental implant is an artificial titanium root that is inserted into your jawbone to replace the natural root of a tooth. Implants can be used to hold a single artificial tooth or a bridge of artificial teeth in place. If only one tooth needs to be replaced then the single tooth is attached to the top of the implant. If several teeth need to be replaced then a bridge is fitted on top of two anchoring implants.
Dental implants are not for everyone. In order to get dental implants you must be in good health, have healthy gums, and have enough bone in your jaws to support the implant. However, if your jawbone has shrunk or did not develop properly you may be able to undergo a bone graft to sufficiently build it up so that you can get a dental implant.
Keeping Your Dentures Clean
Removable dentures should be cleaned regularly. After eating they should be removed and rinsed thoroughly. When you remove your dentures you should also clean your gums using either gauze or a soft toothbrush to clean any remaining natural teeth as well as your tongue, cheeks, and palate (the roof of your mouth). You should brush your dentures thoroughly at least once per day to ensure that no food, plaque, or other particles remain. You should soak your dentures overnight in either water or a mild denture-soaking solution. In the morning you should thoroughly rinse your dentures, especially if you used a denture cleaning solution. Denture cleaning solutions are not designed to come in contact with your mouth.
Non-removable dentures should be cleaned like natural teeth. Make sure you brush them at least twice per day and floss at least once per day to remove any food particles or plaque. Your dentist or denturist will be able to show you how to properly floss around your dental bridge.
You should only ever use a soft-bristled toothbrush on your dentures. Stiff bristled brushes, strong cleaners, and harsh toothpaste are too abrasive and can damage your dentures. If you are unsure how to properly clean your dentures, or which products are safe to use, ask your denturist for guidance.