A denture or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips.
Full dentures can help individuals with:
- Mastication—chewing ability is improved by replacing teeth
- Aesthetics—provides a natural facial appearance lost due to loss of teeth. Replacing teeth and adjoining gingiva tissues provides support for the lips and cheeks, correcting the collapsed appearance that occurs after losing teeth.
- Phonetics—replacing missing teeth helps improve pronunciation of syllables and vowels.
- Self-esteem—patients feel better about themselves.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated two different ways:
- A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed.
- An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are allowed to heal under the denture.
- An upper denture has acrylic, usually flesh colored, that covers the palate (roof of the mouth).
- A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue.
The teeth are made of plastic. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated teeth and a complete denture can be attached to dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance.
Dentures over a normal course of time will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.