A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
Complete dentures can be either ‘conventional’ or ‘immediate.’ Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.
Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal, so immediate dentures require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and will require relining to make up for shrinkage and healing gums after six months.
A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-coloured plastic base, which is sometimes connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This “bridge” is then cemented into place.
Dental implants can be used to make dentures (usually lower) as they are more stable. Dental implants are a good alternative to dentures but not everyone is a candidate for implants, so take the time to talk to your dentist about what the best option is for you, when you need to replace missing teeth.