Dentures & Partial Dentures
A removable partial denture is a set of false or replacement teeth. Dentures are either manufactured in a complete set or a partial set, depending on the amount of teeth that need to be replaced. If all of the teeth in a person's mouth need replacement, a set of complete dentures Is required. If a person has some original teeth that do not need replacement, a partial set of dentures is created to fit around the existing teeth.
As the name suggests, removable partial dentures are not permanently applied and are able to be removed by the wearer. This allows the denture to be removed for cleaning and maintenance. A removable partial denture generally consists of plastic, acrylic or porcelain prosthetic teeth attached to a gum-colored base that is made of a hard plastic or flexible nylon-type of material.
Removable partial dentures may be attached to the teeth in several different ways, depending on the specific requirements of the wearer. The first type is often known as a temporary or treatment partial denture, or colloquially as a flipper. A temporary removable partial denture typically consists of prosthetic teeth attached to a plastic or acrylic base. The denture may be attached to the teeth with metal clamps or the base may be designed and shaped to hold the denture in place.
Flippers are typically the most economical dental prosthesis and are not designed for long-term use. They are often used as a temporary means of preserving the oral appearance of the wearer while a longer lasting denture alternative is being manufactured. However, many patients do use a flipper for an extended period of time without needing or desiring a more expensive alternative.
A second type of removable partial denture is constructed around a cast metal framework and is often called a cast metal removable partial denture. These types of dentures are designed to be longer-lasting and more comfortable for the wearer than a flipper design. The teeth are attached to a gum-colored acrylic base and are connected through a metal framework that is specifically molded to fit each patient.
Most cast metal removable partial dentures are designed so that the framework does not come into much contact with the gums. This prevents oral sore spots from chafing and rubbing that is commonplace with the flipper design. A cast metal removable partial denture may be attached with metal clasps that attach to existing teeth, known as abutment teeth. A dentist may need to re-shape the abutment teeth to ensure that the clasps are firmly secured, while remaining comfortable for the patient.
Other cast metal removable partial dentures use what is known as a precision attachment. The partial removable denture has a male attachment which connects to the female portion of the attachment on a crown in the mouth. A precision attachment eliminates the need for metal clasps which may cause damage to abutment teeth if not properly maintained, and are often visible and may be considered unsightly by some.
Full dentures are an entire set of artificial teeth which are used to replace a person's natural teeth. Reasons for needing dentures vary greatly and can include tooth decay or an injury that resulted in a loss of teeth. Some patients have some of their teeth removed, even if they are not damaged, in order to receive full dentures because the price of getting a full set is often less than receiving individual teeth where they are needed.
There are various types of full dentures that are available, each being different in both cost and authenticity. The most realistic way to replace all the teeth is to get dental implants, although this is the most expensive option. Implants come in the form of individual teeth that can be screwed directly into bolts which are surgically placed in the gums. Insurance may not cover this type of full denture because it is often considered cosmetic rather than health·related, especially since cheaper options are available.
Full dentures can also refer to full sets of teeth which are already connected with artificial gum tissue. The teeth often connect to the mouth through suction against the bone, although denture powders or creams may be needed to aid in the suction. This type of denture may need many fittings in order to ensure the sets are a perfect fit for each individual's mouth. Refitting may also be required as the dentures age.
Care for full dentures is much like that of real teeth. They should be brushed every day and many types should be rinsed or soaked overnight. Unlike authentic teeth, dentures do not rot or get cavities, but they can stain if they are not properly cared for or the owner drinks beverages such as coffee or smokes cigarettes. Dentures may also become worn, cracked and loose over time so occasional updates will likely be necessary.
In some cases, a patient may also require what are known as immediate dentures. These are full dentures which are given on a preliminary basis while the real ones are being fitted and constructed. They are placed over the gums directly after the natural teeth have been removed and help promote healing, much like a bandage or gauze pad does for a wound. Immediate dentures may also allow the patient to eat more comfortably until the permanent dentures are in place.
Another option is the Cu-Sil® denture, which is full dentures with openings that allow healthy natural teeth to remain and poke through the gums. This is a good option for those with unusually shaped mouths, because they provide a tighter fit than traditional dentures, or for those who want to keep as many of their own teeth as possible. These, too, will have to be specially fitted and may require several visits in order to get the best fit.