Dentures and partial dentures are removable appliances that replace missing teeth and adjacent tissues. They are made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with a metal framework.

Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents the remaining teeth from changing position.

Types of Dentures

Candidates for complete dentures have lost most or all of their teeth. You can have a full denture on your upper or lower jaw, or both. A denture can improve appearance, chewing ability, speech, and will provide support for facial muscles. The retentive capabilities (how tight a denture fits) is dictated by the size and shape of the ridge of bone that remains after teeth are extracted.

Complete dentures are called "conventional" or "immediate", according to when they are made and when they are inserted into the mouth. Immediate dentures are inserted immediately after the removal of any remaining teeth. To make this possible, the dentist must go through several steps to prepare for this during preliminary visits. A conventional denture is done after all healing has occurred or when a new denture is being made to replace an existing one. 

The primary advantage of an immediate denture is that the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the period of healing. However, bones and gums will shrink over time, especially during the first three months after the removal of teeth. When gums shrink, immediate dentures get loose and will require a reline to fit properly. A reline or a new conventional denture is then made once the tissues have completely healed. Healing usually takes 8-12 weeks.

An overdenture is a removable denture that fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth or implants. The natural teeth must be prepared to provide stability and support for the denture.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are often a solution when several, but not all teeth are missing. Several factors influence how stable a partial denture will be- the number of natural teeth remaining, the position they are in, and the size and shape of the ridge of bone is where the missing teeth are located. All affect how tight a partial denture will be.

Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected to a metal framework. Removable partial dentures are held in your mouth by metal clasps which attach to your natural teeth. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the retention of a removable partial denture.

How are dentures made?

The denture process takes 4 -5 appointments over about a one month time period.  The initial diagnosis,treatment plan options and costs are discussed prior to beginning. Next an initial impression is taken and sent to a dental labratory. Following this, a wax bite is done to determine the proper vertical dimension and jaw position, and a tooth shade is agreed upon. Next a "try-in" visit is done to verify color, shape, bite and fit.. Changes are made at this time if the are needed. If everything looks good, the dentures are finished and delivered to the patient. Instructions on cleaning and caring for the dentures are discussed. 

It is normal to have adjustments following the placement of any new appliance. Sore spots, rough edges or the bite not feeling perfect are all very common occurances. Call our office as soon as you discover a problem.

Getting used to your denture

For the first few weeks, a new denture may feel awkward or bulky. Speaking clearly and eating with it will require practice However, you will eventually adapt become accustomed to wearing it. Inserting and removing the denture will also require some practice. Your denture should easily fit into place. Never force a partial denture into position by biting down. This could bend or break the clasps, break your teeth.

For the first day or two, you may be asked to wear your denture all the time. Although this may be temporarily uncomfortable, it will allow for the quickest healing to occur after extractions, and will be the best way to identify any denture areas that need adjustment. If the denture puts too much pressure on a particular area, that spot will become sore, and your denture will need to be adjusted for it to fit more comfortably.

After the first couple of days, it is always recommended to take out any removable appliance at night and replace it in the morning. This allows saliva to freely circulate in the mouth as a natural cleaner. It lets the teeth and gums that support the appliance relax, not being "loaded" 24 hours a day. This will help prevent potential bone loss and allow you to have a tighter fitting appliance and require fewer less frquent relines.  

Start out by eating soft foods that are cut into small pieces. Chew on both sides of the mouth to keep even pressure on the denture. Avoid sticky or hard foods, including gum. You may want to avoid chewing gum while you adjust to the denture.

Care of your denture

It's best to stand over a folded towel or a sink filled with water when handling your denture, just in case you accidentally drop it. Brush the denture (preferably with a denture brush) daily to remove food deposits and plaque, and keep it from becoming permanently stained. Avoid using a brush with hard bristles, which can damage the denture. Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under a partial denture`s metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of decay on these teeth.

Hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid to clean dentures is also acceptable, but I don't think they taste very good. Other types of household cleaners should not be used for cleaning dentures as they are too abrasive. Do not use bleach on a denture. A denture can lose its proper shape if it is not kept moist or is heated up. At night, place the denture in a soaking solution or water. If the appliance has metal attachments, use a soaking solution that is suitable for partials or just use plain water.

Even with full dentures, you still need to take good care of your mouth. Every morning, brush your gums, tongue and palate with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Selecting a balanced diet for proper nutrition is also important for maintaining a healthy mouth.


Over time, adjusting the denture may be necessary. As you age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, resulting in a loose-fitting denture. Loose dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. Dentures that do not fit properly can be adjusted or relined. Avoid using a do-it-yourself kit to adjust your dentures, as this can damage the appliance beyond repair. Glues sold over-the-counter often contain harmful chemicals and should not be used on a denture.

If your denture no longer fits properly, if it breaks, cracks or chips, or if one of the teeth becomes loose, see your dentist immediately. In many cases, dentists can make necessary adjustments or repairs, often on the same day. Complicated repairs may require that the denture be sent to a special dental laboratory.

Over time, dentures will need to be relined, re-based, or re-made due to normal wear. To reline or re-base a denture, the dentist uses the existing denture teeth and refits the denture base or makes a new denture base. Dentures may need to be replaced if they become very loose or the teeth show signs of significant wear.

Common concerns

Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the dentures from rocking. As you become accustomed to chewing, add other foods until you return to your normal diet.

Continue to chew food using both sides of the mouth at the same time. Be cautious with very hot or hard foods and sharp-edged bones or shells.

Some people worry about how dentures will affect their speech. Consider how your speech is affected when you have a number of your natural teeth missing. Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating troublesome words will help. If your dentures "click" while you`re talking, speak more slowly. You may find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile. Reposition the dentures by gently biting down and swallowing. If a speaking problem persists, consult your dentist.

Denture adhesives

Denture adhesives can provide additional retention for well-fitting dentures. Denture adhesives are not a solution for old, ill-fitting dentures. A poorly fitting denture, which constantly slips will cause irritation and  will lead to sore spots. These dentures need either a reline or may need to be replaced. If your dentures begin to feel loose, or cause pronounced discomfort, consult with your dentist immediately.