Dentures are designed to replace missing teeth, and are worn by millions of Americans. Technological advancements have resulted in dentures that are lightweight and mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Most dentures are made from a combination of metals and synthetic material such as acrylic resin. Dentures are generally classified as partial or full. Partial dentures are designed to replace a small section of teeth, and help prevent existing healthy natural teeth from shifting position; full dentures generally replace an entire set of teeth such as upper and lower dentures.
Many candidates for conventional dentures (also called “immediate” dentures) are able to wear the appliances immediately following removal of affected natural teeth. Before immediate dentures are worn, a mold of the patient’s mouth – specifically the jaws – must be made in order for the dentures to be customized for the individual. Partial dentures, also sometimes called “overdentures,” are designed to fit over a small section of implants or natural teeth. Partial dentures are characteristic by their pinkish gum-like plastic bases, on to which replacement teeth are attached. Small clasps are used to attach the denture to existing teeth.
Some clasps, which can be more expensive, are made of natural-looking material that is hard-to-detect. In some cases, a crown will be installed on an existing healthy tooth to facilitate a better hold for the clasp. Denture candidates can expect to have their appliances fitted after about five visits. The process takes about a month.