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Dentures 101: A Quick Guide To Choosing Dentures

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

What Are Dentures?

Dentures are devices worn in the mouth to replace missing teeth. There are two types of dentures: partial dentures and full dentures.

  • Full dentures replace all the teeth on a jaw.

  • Partial dentures replace one or a few teeth in a jaw and they typically use remaining the teeth as anchors for stability.

One can wear a combination of a partial and a full denture or a set of full or partial dentures.

Who Wears Dentures and Why?

Anyone can wear dentures. Tooth loss can occur from trauma, dental decay, or gum disease at any time.When tooth loss occurs, it is important to replace missing teeth for function and aesthetics.

Even if you are considering an implant in the future, replacing missing teeth as they happen prevents teeth from drifting and extruding. If a tooth moves, the lack of spacing can make the placement of a future implant impossible.

Furthermore, when teeth are missing, the bone around that area decreases over time which is called bone resorption. Bone resorption can happen on both jaw and they lead to the collapse of the facial height. Having dentures maintains that facial height.

Types of Full Dentures

Acrylic Full Denture

These dentures are made from hard acrylic and are non-flexible. They sit on the gums and use the existing anatomy of the jaw to ensure stability and retention. They are very durable and are your typical every day full dentures. Retention and stability are the main complaints of full denture wearers, they are dependent on the existing anatomy. Lower full dentures don’t hold as well due to bone resorption. When stability and retention cannot be achieved with dentures an implant-supported denture is to be considered.

upper dentures
Set of upper and lower full acrylic dentures

Flexible Full Denture

Flexible full dentures are made from a thermoplastic material which means the denture can slightly soften when immersed in warm water. This change in hardness is temperature-dependent and the denture remains hard in the mouth. This denture is very esthetic and comfortable to wear. The downside of flexible full dentures is that they might bounce a little during chewing. The stability and retention of these dentures are also very dependent on the existing anatomy of the jaw.

flexible denture
Set of upper and lower full flexible dentures

Alternative to Full Dentures

The alternative to a full denture is an implant-supported denture. These dentures sit on 4 to 6 implants which are placed in the jaw. They ensure superior retention and stability as they are screwed onto the implants. These dentures and implants are typically much more costly than simple dentures and can range from $30,000 to $70,000.

Types of Partial Dentures

Cast Metal Partial Denture

These partial dentures are made from hard acrylic and the false teeth and gum rest on a metal frame. Clasps/hooks are required and anchor themselves on existing teeth for stability and retention. These dentures are very sturdy and are considered a long-term solution to missing teeth. Their disadvantages are their bulkiness and the visible metal hooks on teeth.

pair of metal partial dentures
Set of upper and lower cast partial dentures

Acrylic Partial Denture

Acrylic partial dentures are partial dentures made only from pink acrylic, they don’t have a metal frame but do have metal hooks as anchors. They are typically made to replace 1 or 2 teeth and can be considered a temporary solution as they are not as sturdy as cast partials or flexible partials.

lower partial metal denture
A lower acrylic partial denture

Flexible Partial Denture

Flexible partial dentures are made from thermoplastic material and are a newer alternative to cast partial. The denture can slightly soften when immersed in warm water. This change in hardness is temperature dependent and the denture remains hard in the mouth. Denture wearers often prefer them to cast partial for their comfort and esthetics as the clasps are gum-colored and blend well with the existing teeth. There are not easily repaired and are not a good solution for heavy grinders. These dentures can be temporary or long-term solutions.

flexible denture on hand
A lower flexible partial denture
flexible partial denture

Alternative to Partial Dentures

When a few teeth are missing a bridge is a good alternative solution as well as an implant or an implant-supported bridge. A bridge ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. Implants and implant-supported bridges can cost anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the complexity of the case.

How Much Do Dentures Cost?

Dentures are traditionally made by denturists or dentists. A full denture can cost between $900 and $2,500. A partial denture is typically between $750 and $2,000.

Denture Care

Dentures are removable devices. They should be soaked overnight in a denture solution. To clean dentures, they should be brushed gently with non-abrasive soap. It is very important to remove them before bed to let your mouth rest and breath.

Choosing the Best Denture For You

Before considering dentures, it is important to make sure your mouth is healthy and ready to receive a denture. Loose teeth, loose crowns, or unsuspected issues with existing teeth can impact the fit, look, and comfort of your dentures. A dental examination with your dentist is the best way to make sure your mouth is ready for dentures.

When choosing dentures, you should take into consideration the following points:

  • Are you looking for a full or partial denture?

  • Do you have any allergies to metal or acrylic?

  • Are you able to tolerate a denture in your mouth?

  • Do you have any specific concerns with your dentures? For example, you don’t want metal hooks or if you have a gag reflex.

  • Have you considered alternatives to dentures such as bridges or implants?

Once you have considered all these points, schedule a free appointment with one of our denture specialists via our website. We can answer your questions and address any concerns.


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