A denture or a complete denture as it is often called, is a prosthesis that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth, and provides support for the cheeks and lips. Without replacement teeth an edentulous person’s cheeks and lips collapse in the void left by the missing teeth. Therefore, prosthetic dentures are vital for eating, speaking, singing, and facial appearance.
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 front 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, porcelain or a combination thereof. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated anchor teeth using snap-like attachments. Or a complete denture may be attached to dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance. An implant supported lower full denture is now considered standard of care.
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 annual dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for oral cancer, infections, or denture sores.