A denture or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, attempts to replace natural teeth, and provides 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.
- An immediate denture is fabricated prior to extractions. The denture will be placed the same day of the extractions. The tissues (gums) are allowed to heal under the denture. After the healing phase is complete, it is common to have a second denture made that better fits the mouth following the changes that occur in the mouth during the healing phase.
An upper denture has acrylic 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. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated teeth and a complete denture can be attached to dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance. This is called an overdenture and offers greater stability compared to a denture that rests only on the gum tissue. The overdenture “locks” into the implants and helps to prevent movement of the denture that is common to a regular denture.
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 dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer, so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.