Dentures or “false teeth” are a simple and low cost method of replacing missing teeth. They are classified into partial and complete dentures based on whether any teeth remain in the mouth to support and retain them while in use. Prefabricated teeth are attached to a plastic base which may be strengthened by a metal mesh or base and are held in place by wires which grip lightly to the sides of remaining teeth. If all teeth have been lost, the denture will have to rely on a close fit with the gums and soft tissue of the mouth to produce a “suction” effect to keep it in position.

Partial Dentures

The main advantage of dentures is the low cost. A mould is made of your mouth and sent to the laboratory. The missing teeth come prefabricated in a variety of sizes and colour shades and the ones which best fit you are chosen. They are then attached to the plastic base which will carry them and wires which will hold the denture in position. Dentures should be removed at night as they are not hygienic and may cause fungal infection of your gums. In addition small and loose dentures are unsafe as patients have been known to choke on them causing a medical emergency.

Design of a partial denture

The bigger the plate and the more the wires, the more stable the denture becomes. However larger dentures are less comfortable as you may be aware of an object which feels foreign or uncomfortable. In addition the wires may be visible when you smile. To strengthen the base, a metal known as “chrome-cobalt” is used to reduce the thickness while improving the strength of the denture. Dentures without wires to retain them are unsafe as they are usually loose and there is the possibility of these dentures dislodging and the patient choking on them.

Complete or Full Dentures

Complete dentures are made when all our teeth are lost. It is a low cost option and depends on our saliva and natural forces known as “surface tension” to provide the stability. Over time due to the direct pressure of the denture on the underlying soft tissue and bone, the tissues become thinner and the denture becomes loose. In general, lower dentures tend to be less well tolerated by patients as they are usually less stable when compared to upper dentures which have a broader base for support.

The Process

It usually takes more than 4 visits to make a denture as a mould must be made of the toothless mouth. As fit is critical at the margins to obtain an effective suction, a second more accurate mould is often required. The dentist will then need to ensure that the dentures made the two separate upper and lower moulds will match each other for proper biting ability. The teeth will also have to be checked for alignment as the position will affect the lip posture and support as well as the amount of teeth shown. Once these have been verified, the denture can then be fabricated in about a week

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