When you think of dentures, you might just imagine a set of teeth in a glass of water on the bedside table, but there’s a lot more to them than that! Here is a simple definition:
Dentures, also known as ‘false teeth’ or ‘fake teeth’, are a type of dental prosthesis for people missing one, some, or all of their teeth.
Fitting a denture to replace missing teeth usually helps patients with their eating and speech. It can also protect the remaining teeth, prevent the face from sagging, and improve the patients self-confidence.
If you are missing all your teeth – whether due to injury, tooth infection, periodontitis or another medical condition – you will need a complete set of replacement teeth.
With full dentures, the artificial teeth are fixed to a plate that sits snugly over your gums and – in the case of an upper denture – on the roof of your mouth.
This plate is usually made from a gum-coloured acrylic material, but the inner part can be made from metal. The ‘gum’ extends far enough away from the teeth that the edge is not visible when you smile.
When the base fits well, natural suction keeps it in place. But over time, your jaw bone changes shape and the plate will eventually become loose. False teeth glue can be used to keep it in place for a while, and a soft liner made from silicone can keep older appliances feeling comfortable for longer, but after five years or so you’ll need to get a new set of teeth from your dentist or have your existing set relined.
Partial dentures are used when some healthy, natural teeth are still present. They are carefully shaped by a dental technician to fit around and clip onto any remaining teeth. Both the artificial teeth and gum are coloured to be a good match with your natural teeth and gums.
Although the metal clasps are designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, they may still be visible when you talk, depending on their position. Partial denture clips can be made from a tooth-coloured material, but this isn’t as strong as metal.
Partial dentures are traditionally made from rigid materials like acrylic or metal. But more recently flexible dentures have been introduced to the market, and you can read more about these below.