Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic), nylon or metal. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps. Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. Sometimes all the teeth need to be removed and replaced.
You may therefore need either:
- Complete dentures (a full set) which replace all your upper or lower teeth
- Partial dentures which replace just 1 tooth or a few missing teeth
Dentures may help prevent problems with eating and speech. They may also improve the appearance of your smile and give you confidence.
A full denture will be fitted if all your upper or lower teeth need to be removed or you’re having an old complete denture replaced. The denture will usually be fitted as soon as your teeth are removed, which means you will not be without teeth. The denture will fit snugly over your gums and jawbone. If you have dentures fitted immediately after the removal of several teeth, the gums and bone will alter in shape fairly quickly and the dentures will probably need relining or remaking after a few months.
Occasionally, your gums may need to be left to heal and alter in shape for several months before dentures can be fitted.
A partial denture is designed to fill in the gaps left by one or more missing teeth. It’s a plastic, nylon or metal plate with a number of false teeth attached to it. It usually clips onto some of your natural teeth via metal clasps, which hold it securely in place in your mouth. It can easily be unclipped and removed. Occasionally, the clips can be made of a tooth or gum-coloured material, although this type of clip isn’t always suitable because it tends to be more brittle than metal.
Valplast partial dentures are made from a nylon resin which means the dentures are much more flexible than traditional acrylic or metal dentures. They can adapt to the shape and movement of your mouth and for this reason can be more comfortable to wear. There are also no metal clasps, which can often be visible in traditional dentures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wearing dentures continually, and especially at night when salivary flow naturally diminishes, often results in a condition called denture stomatitis (“stoma” – mouth; “itis” – inflammation). This affects tissues under dentures. Typically it occurs under upper full dentures that cover the palate, which becomes reddened, inflamed and infected with yeast. This is often accompanied by a disease called angular cheilitis, a cracking at the corners of the mouth and subsequent infection by the same yeast. Denture stomatitis is treated by leaving the dentures out at night, and cleaning them meticulously. Yeast infection is treated by anti-yeast or anti-fungal medication and/or chlorhexidine prescription rinses that can be prescribed by your dentist.
Whether you wear full or partial dentures, taking them out is important to give the gums and other denture-bearing tissues a chance to rest, recover and receive beneficial exposure to the antibacterial agents naturally present in saliva. In short, removing your dentures for at least five to six hours per day is the healthiest thing to do. When is the best time to do that? It used to be recommended that dentures should always be removed at night. However, a recent concern is the issue of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). For some people, wearing dentures at night actually may help prevent OSA — a dangerous sleep-related breathing disorder. If you are at risk for OSA, it may be best for you to remove your dentures only during waking hours to give your supporting tissues a rest each day.
It's important to regularly remove plaque and food deposits from your dentures. This is because unclean dentures can also lead to problems, such as bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and oral thrush. Clean your dentures as often as you would normal teeth (at least twice a day: every morning and night).
- Brush your dentures with toothpaste or soap and water before soaking them to remove food particles
- Soak them in a fizzy solution of denture-cleaning tablets to remove stains and bacteria (follow the manufacturer's instructions)
- Brush them again as you would your normal teeth (but don't scrub them too hard)
Dentures may break if you drop them, so you should clean them over a bowl or sink filled with water, or something soft like a folded towel.