A denture or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replacing natural teeth and providing support for the cheeks and lips.
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 for at least a number of months. This time frame is when most of the tissue and bone shrinkage occurs after tooth extractions.
- An immediate denture is fabricated prior the extractions. It is then inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted. The tissues are allowed to heal under the denture. These dentures will need further attention in the coming months as the tissue and bone heal and shrink.
- An upper denture has acrylic, usually flesh colored, that covers the palate (roof of the mouth). It usually is held in place with a suction fit. There is considerable variation of the retention of upper dentures from one patient to another due to a number of factors.
- A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue. They do not get a suction fit and are prone to moving around.
A complete denture can be attached to dental implants in a variety of ways to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance.
Dentures over a normal course of time will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the teeth/jaw alignment normal and to improve fit and comfort. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.