Types of Dentures & Causes For Treatment

Happy elderly couple smiling with good teeth

Denture types and options for replacing missing teeth

Losing teeth can impact how you feel, your confidence when you smile and the ability to eat your favourite foods. Sometimes teeth are lost even with appropriate preventative care.

Decaying or missing teeth can affect your confidence, but the good news is that there are ways to get your smile and your confidence back!

If you have cracked or decaying teeth, dentures from The Point Dental are one option to get you smiling confidently again. For other options, see our All-on-4 dental implants.

Gloved hands holding dentures in clinic setting

What are dentures?

Dentures are false teeth that allow you to smile, eat and speak with confidence if you have damaged or missing teeth. Removable dentures are taken out at night, while fixed dentures stay in your mouth.

If you’re missing teeth and considering dentures, be assured that you aren’t alone. 13.2% of Australian adults wear one or two removable dentures, with an average of 5.3 missing teeth per person, according to Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia: Key Facts and Figures 2012.

When to consider dentures

You may consider dentures to replace damaged or missing teeth. Some common causes for dentures include tooth decay, accidental damage and cracked or chipped teeth from grinding or bruxism.

Prevention is always better than a cure, so if you have one or a few damaged teeth, it’s not too late to start taking extra care of your healthy teeth!

Two types of dentures

Partial dentures

Partial dentures replace only the teeth that are missing. Partial dentures may be held by clasps around the remaining teeth or fixed using a bridge or implant.

  • Removable dentures replace a single tooth or a few teeth, held by a clasp to adjacent natural teeth.
  • A “bridge” is a fixed partial denture to replace teeth on one side of the mouth.

For partial dentures to be effective, the remaining teeth must be healthy enough to support a partial denture.

Full dentures

Complete dentures replace an entire row of teeth on either the upper or lower jaw. These are typically made from plastic and removed at night for cleaning.

How do I know if I need dentures?

Teeth help to support your health and quality of life. The choice to replace missing teeth will depend on the location and type of the tooth or teeth.

To be healthy and eat properly, you’ll need a mixture of biting teeth at the front of your mouth and cutting teeth at the back.

The teeth at the front of your mouth also appear in your smile and when you speak. Replacing these teeth if they are broken or decaying can help to restore your confidence.

Dentures are one option for replacing missing teeth. You can speak with your dentist about the options available and make the best decision for your situation.

Fixed partial dentures can replace a few missing teeth

Your dentist may recommend a fixed partial denture where one or a few teeth need replacing, and the adjacent teeth are still strong.

A “bridge” is a fixed partial denture secured to the adjacent natural teeth by crowns. The adjacent teeth provide support for the new synthetic tooth mounted on the ‘bridge’ or plate.

Implant-retained dentures

Dental implants may secure a replacement tooth, using an artificial root to hold the partial denture in place.

An implant replaces one or more missing teeth. Dental implants are often preferred as they look, feel and function just like regular teeth.

Snap-on dentures

Snap-on dentures are held in place by dental implants. Unlike All-on-4 dental implants, which are permanent, snap-on dentures are removable. This style of denture may be more suitable to disguise lost gum tissue. As always, discuss the options with your dentist.

Elderly man inspects dentures being held by dentist in clinic

Who makes and fits dentures?

Your dentist, a dental prosthetist or a specialist dentist prosthodontist can make and fit dentures.

Dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth, and it may take several dental visits to ensure the final denture will fit perfectly.

Typically dentures will be made some weeks after the removal of damaged teeth. The gum and bone have time to heal into their final shape heal so that the denture fits better right from the start.

Immediate dentures are suitable when you don’t wish to be without teeth for two or three months. Your dentist measures your mouth before removing any teeth.

As the bone and gums in your mouth heal, their shape may change. Immediate dentures may require adjustments to the dentures to improve the fit.

Tips for adjusting to dentures

Eating with dentures

When you begin eating with dentures in place, start with soft foods. Eat slowly and cut foods into small pieces.

As you grow used to the dentures, introduce hard foods. You may not be able to eat all the same foods as before.

Should you feel any soreness or sensitivity on the gums, return to your dentist for denture adjustments.

Wearing dentures

You may notice that you sound different when speaking when wearing dentures. Another thing you may find is that the dentures may ‘click’. It’s also common for people to produce more saliva or experience dryness in the mouth.

If the difficulty persists beyond a few weeks, see your dentist for a check.

Healthy food choices

Drinking plenty of tap water and eating a wide variety of nutritious foods will help to keep your mouth healthy. Avoid sugary foods or drinks, especially between meals.

Keep dentures clean for a healthy mouth

Caring for dentures helps to keep your mouth healthy. You’ll need to clean dentures every morning and night. You may also rinse dentures in cold water after eating.

How to clean removable dentures:

  1. Remove the denture from your mouth.
  2. Brush all surfaces to remove food and plaque. Your dentist will recommend a denture brush and specific soap or paste. Don’t use toothpaste as it may scratch your dentures.
  3. Hold the denture gently but firmly in the centre. Putting pressure on the ends may cause the denture to snap.
  4. Clean dentures in a basin or sink half-filled with warm water or covered with a towel — this prevents dentures from breaking if dropped.

Caring for your mouth:
When you have dentures, you need to keep your gums and mouth healthy. Use a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean your gums and remaining natural teeth.

How to clean fixed dentures:
Fixed dentures won’t need removing for cleaning — you’ll clean fixed dentures when you brush your teeth. Follow any specific instructions provided by your dentist.

Removing removable dentures overnight:
Taking out removable dentures at night is necessary to allow your mouth to rest and also helps to prevent fungal infection.

See your dentist if you have any discomfort or questions
If you experience any pain, discomfort, or swelling, book an appointment with your dentist.

When to repair or replace dentures

Most dentures last from 5 to 10 years. While wearing dentures, you should have regular checkups with your dentist every six months. Your dentist will be able to check the condition and fit of your dentures, make any adjustments and recommend when a replacement is needed.

Happy elderly couple. Male giving female a piggy back in an autumnal setting

What alternatives are there to dentures?

Dentures or implants can replace missing teeth. The right solution will depend on your situation, so be sure to discuss the options with your dentist.

ImplantsDentures
Fully integrated into the jawArtificial teeth mounted on a plate
Not reliant on adjacent teeth for supportFull dentures rest on gums while partial dentures rely on adjacent teeth for support
Permanent solutionRemovable or crown
Natural-lookingTeeth may look ‘false’ depending on the prosthesis
Requires the insertion of titanium ‘root’ or implantNo surgical implant

Cost, private health and Medicare cover for dentures

Medicare in Australia will cover some diagnostic, preventative and restorative dental procedures, such as a tooth extraction.

If you have private health insurance, this will cover part of the cost of dentures. You’ll need to pay the difference yourself, but rest assured there are various payment options available to suit your circumstances.

Dentures for patients with dental anxiety

If you experience anxiety or fear about dental procedures, speak with your dentist about how we can make you comfortable during your initial consultation.

Unsure where to begin to restore your smile confidence? We specialise in replacing missing teeth even for patients with dental fear and anxiety — make an appointment to find out more about our All-on-4 dental implants.

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