There are two types of dentures: partial or full dentures.  Partial dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth that clasps onto remaining teeth.  A full denture is a removable set of all teeth in the upper or lower jaw.  Dentures have the advantage of being an economic replacement for multiple teeth.  Disadvantages of dentures include continued bone loss, less chewing strength than natural or fixed teeth, food entrapment, loose teeth, sore spots on the gums, and deficient nutrition.  A denture should be removed and rinsed after eating in addition to being thoroughly brushed once a day.  It is recommended to wear the denture everyday and to take the denture out while sleeping.  

While dentures are an improvement over having no teeth at all, they do not address the problem of bone loss in the jaws.  Bone loss begins once the teeth have been extracted and is continuous.  This photo contrasts the height of bone in a jaw with teeth and the height of bone in a jaw that has been without teeth for 20 years.

Once the teeth are extracted the jaw bones begin to shrink.  Continued bone loss will cause the dentures to gradually become more and more loose. Loose denture cause sore spots on the gums and are harder to eat with. After years of bone resorption the upper lip becomes unsupported, the nose droops, the corners of the mouth frown and wrinkle, and the lower jaw closes too far causing the chin to jut forward. This is the appearance of old age.  It has been nicknamed “witch’s chin” or “bitter beer face.”  Restoring the jaws to their proper height will take years off your appearance.

Bone loss in the jaws

Dentures restore height of jaws, but without implants they won't stop bone loss

Implants are the answer to the problem of bone loss.  We recommend implants to secure a denture and make it less loose, and more implants will stop bone loss in the jaws.  If you are missing teeth, the earlier in life you have implants placed, the sooner you’ll stop the bone loss.  Prevent the problems associated with bone loss (old appearance, difficulty eating, poor nutrition, loose and uncomfortable dentures) by getting implants now.

Dentures should be checked at least once a year to see if they need to be relined to fit the shrinking jaw bones. Denture teeth eventually wear out or the denture may break, and a new set is made every 8-15 years on average.


Partial dentures

Partial dentures have a metal framework onto which the pink acrylic and white acrylic teeth are anchored.  

This patient is missing his back teeth. In the photo on the left notice the gaps in the back teeth. This patient is interested in having a partial denture made.  The photo on the right shows the partial denture in place. The gaps in the back are filled with teeth.

On the left the upper teeth are shown without the partial denture.  On the right the partial denture is shown in place. The missing teeth are replaced with white acrylic teeth anchored in pink acrylic. There are clasps that snap around the natural teeth. The partial denture base covers the roof of the mouth.  The partial denture gives the patient more back teeth to chew his food.



Full dentures

This patient is missing all of his teeth.  He is interested in a set of complete dentures. On the left you can see what the gums of the upper jaw look like without any teeth. On the right is the upper denture in place on the same patient.  The white denture teeth are attached to a pink denture base. The teeth and the denture base are made of acrylic. The inside of the denture is the same shape as the gums and rests on the gums.  It is held in place by water surface tension of the saliva or by a denture adhesive (paste or powder).

Here is the lower jaw without any teeth. The tongue rests behind the ridge of bone and the lip has been stretched out of the way. On the right is the same patient with a denture resting on the lower jaw.  If a patient has problems with their dentures, it is usually a problem with the lower denture.  The lower denture is commonly loose and moves or floats when eating or speaking.  

Implants help to secure the lower denture and eliminate these problems.