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Different Types of Dentures and Alternative Options

Man smiling, showing his teethThere are several ways you can lose your teeth. If you participate in sports, especially contact sports, you could lose teeth from a blow to your jaw or other facial injuries. Other ways to lose your teeth include malnutrition, disease, and genetic disorders.

Malnutrition and diseases can make the gum area around your teeth develop an infection or recede, causing your teeth to become lose or fall out. Losing your teeth not affects the way you smile. Losing your teeth also affects the way you bite when you eat and speak.

Although dentures are thought of as something “older people” need, they are a dental device that’s used at almost any age to replace lost teeth. To help bring back your beautiful smile, if you lose a tooth or many teeth, there are several types of dentures and other alternative options available.

Dentures Are Devices Made Just for You

Each set of dentures are made to fit the unique contours of the individual’s mouth. They are custom-made by a dental lab and custom-fitted by a dentist. The dentures themselves aren’t permanent fixtures in your mouth, although sometimes parts are implanted in the jaw for the dentures to be placed on.

There are two parts to dentures: lose the plate and the teeth. The teeth are often made of an acrylic resin or porcelain. Dentures are made to look similar in color, texture, and size to your natural teeth. Porcelain is a heavier, resilient material that has qualities that innately make it look and feel like your teeth. Acrylic resin is a lighter material and is often less expensive than porcelain.

The teeth of the dentures are attached to the plate. Often this plate is made from a flexible polymer, a nylon material or a chrome cobalt metal.

Three Types of Dentures

The three types of dentures commonly used are conventional full dentures, immediate full dentures, and partial dentures.

Conventional full dentures are used as a replacement if all your teeth are either removed or have fallen out. The top portion of the denture is a plate that covers the roof of your mouth. The bottom portion is a horseshoe shaped piece that fits around your lower gums. To make dentures, your dentist will first make a mold of your gums. The mold is sent to a dental lab where they build your dentures to custom-fit your mouth. Some dental practices have the resources and training to make your dentures in their offices. To ensure your gums and jawbone heal from any tooth removal, your dentist will wait approximately 8 to 12 weeks before fitting you with your new dentures.

Another type of denture is the immediate full denture. Unlike conventional full dentures, your dentist makes the immediate full denture before removing any remaining teeth. Your new dentures are fitted in your mouth in the same visit when you have your teeth removed. Immediate full dentures are used by a dentist as a temporary device to help the transition before permanent dentures are ready to wear. The configuration of your gums and jaw bone change as your mouth heals and adjusts to the new dentures. The new dentures are refitted several times to ensure proper fit.

When you have only a few missing teeth, your dentist will often fit you with a Partial denture.  The American Dental Association explains that with partial dentures the replacement teeth can be connected to your natural teeth with a metal framework using metal clips. Partial dentures are also connected by precision attachments. If the adjacent teeth aren’t strong enough, crowns are placed on them for a more solid surface for attachment.

Alternative Options That are Available, Other Than Dentures

A popular alternative option to dentures is dental implants. These implants are permanent replacement teeth. A metal rod is surgically implanted into your jawbone where your teeth are missing. The replacement tooth is attached to this post.  For dental implants, because the device is implanted in your jaw, you must have healthy gums and jawbone for the procedure.

Dental implants can also be used to help secure dentures. Denture plates are fitted to sit on your gums. Sometimes a more stable fit is necessary. In this case, the dentures are held in place by metal structures surgically implanted in the jaw bone, very much like dental implants. These metal structures are called implant supported dentures, or implant retained dentures.  For this type of denture fit, just like other dental implants, you must have healthy gums and jaw bone so the dentist can secure the implants.

A professional dental office, such as Kirkland Family Dentistry, is the best place for you to go if you have loose or missing teeth.  After a thorough examination, your dentist can give you the information you need to make the choice that’s right for your oral health. With the help of your dentist, you can choose between the different types of dentures and alternative options for replacing your missing teeth.

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Dr. Benjamin Greene
Dr. Greene has been providing high-quality dental care to Kirkland residents for over 25 years. The Kirkland area is Dr. Greene’s home. He grew up in Bellevue and graduated from the University of Washington before attending dental school in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his D.D.S. at Case Western Reserve University and then returned to practice dentistry in Kirkland, where he has become part of the community.
Dr. Benjamin Greene
Dr. Benjamin Greene

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