Dentures are divided into two general categories: Complete Dentures and Partial Dentures.  

Complete dentures are designed to replace all teeth in either the upper or lower arch.  Partial dentures are an option for patients who have some remaining healthy teeth.  Importantly, any remaining teeth must be evaluated for strength and fracture resistance prior to selecting the proper prosthesis.  Remaining teeth must be strong enough to anchor and support a partial denture.  In general, partial dentures provide better stability and retention compared to complete dentures.  Patients generally note that complete dentures may move slightly when they chew whereas partial denture wearers generally find their dentures are “locked in” and don’t move during chewing.

Complete Dentures

Complete dentures have two main components or “parts”:

  • A pink acrylic portion which has a “gum-like” appearance
  • Denture teeth which provide aesthetics as well as chewing and speech function

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The pink acrylic portion of an upper complete denture covers much of the gum surface as well as the roof of the mouth.  This extensive gum coverage can provide some level of suction and retention depending on the volume of jawbone and gum tissue remaining.  The pink acrylic portion of a lower complete denture is less extensive and features an open area around the tongue.  Because of this design, there is less contact with the gums and therefore less suction and retention compared to a complete upper denture.  In some cases, individuals with complete lower dentures will opt to have 2 or more implants placed to significantly improve retention and stability.

Implant-Retained Complete Dentures

Dental Implants are surgical screws that can be utilized to connect your denture directly to the upper or lower jaw.  The implants can be covered with adapter components so that you can clip your denture directly into place.  Implant-retained complete dentures can increase the retention of your denture significantly to limit movement during chewing function.  Most commonly, two implants are placed in the positions normally occupied by the canine teeth.  Advantages of implant-retained complete dentures include:

  • Improved retention and stability compared to traditional complete dentures
  • Improved comfort compared to traditional complete dentures
  • Improved chewing function compared to traditional complete dentures
  • Provide the ability to enjoy a wider variety of foods

Partial Dentures

Denture with clipping path on white background

Partial dentures are more complex appliances compared to complete dentures. Like complete dentures, they have pink acrylic “gum” and white acrylic “tooth” components. However, partial dentures also have metal components like “rests” and “clasps” that anchor the denture to some or all of your remaining natural teeth.  Sometimes, it is necessary to prepare or adjust small portions of the teeth so that your partial denture can fit with better retention.  Because partial dentures engage natural teeth for support, it is critical to make sure that remaining teeth are well-anchored, non-mobile, and fracture resistant.  In some cases, the extraction of weak or loose teeth may be recommended prior to having your partial denture made.

Denture Relines

Over time, the gums and jawbone that support a complete denture can change shape and contour.  As the shape of these tissues changes, suction and retention diminish.  Over a short period of time these changes are unnoticeable, however, over the course of years patients will note: “my denture doesn’t fit like it used to”.  This is inevitable for all denture wearers and the solution is often a simple one – they require a denture reline.  Advantages of a denture reline include:

  • Being less costly compared to fabrication of a new denture
  • Provide updated inner surface of the denture to fit the gums perfectly
  • Dramatic enhancement of suction and fit
  • Incidental repair of small wear spots, cracks or irregularities in existing acrylic

What is involved in relining my complete denture?

Denture relines can be conveniently completed on a same-day basis.  During a brief morning appointment, you will have a highly accurate impression material applied to the underside of your denture and it will be seated in the mouth for adaptation to the gum tissues.  After 2-3 minutes, the reline material will set and your denture can be removed for inspection.  The denture reline can be completed at our dental lab within 5-6 hours.  This process entails converting the reline compound to solid pink acrylic for durability and longevity.  Your relined denture is typically ready for insert in the mid- to late-afternoon on the same day.

Denture Repairs When an individual requires extraction of a fractured or infected/abscessed tooth, the lost tooth can typically be added to their existing partial denture.  The vast majority of denture repairs can be completed same-day.  Commonly, if a repair is required in conjunction with the removal of tooth, treatment can be completed and impressions taken during a morning appointment.  Our dental lab can make the adjustment and return the denture for insert/delivery on the afternoon of the same day.  If your repaired denture cannot be processed and returned same-day, you will be notified in advance.  Denture repairs allow you to adapt your partial denture to existing conditions without incurring large costs associated with fabrication of a new prosthesis.  

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