Dentures, the dental prosthetic device commonly known as false teeth, are not a one-size-fit-all solution to tooth loss. Dentures are not only custom-made to fit different mouth sizes and gum ridge shapes, they also have varied designs and fitting procedures in accordance with the position , number and distribution of the remaining natural teeth.
Conventional dentures are the standard dentures that most people visualize when they think of dentures. They are also known as full plate dentures because they equip the wearer with a full arch of upper and lower teeth. Conventional dentures are worn by people who are missing all of their teeth. Conventional dentures are made by taking a mould or impression of the gums using dental wax or putty. The mould is taken after the teeth have been extracted and the gums have healed. During follow up visits, any adjustments needed for a comfortable, precise fit are made. People can begin wearing conventional dentures about 8 to 12 weeks following extraction of the teeth.
Immediate dentures are like conventional dentures in that they provide a complete set of artificial teeth. The only difference is that immediate dentures, as their name suggests, are designed to be worn immediately after the teeth have been removed. Because immediate dentures are fitted on gums that are still healing (the gums and jaw bones swell and then shrink during the healing process), more adjustments need to be made compared to conventional dentures before a precise fit is achieved. Immediate dentures are made before the teeth are even extracted and allow individuals to retain the appearance and function of teeth while the gums heal. Dentists recommend that immediate dentures only be worn temporarily.
Partial dentures are designed for people missing only a few of their teeth. Partial dentures may be fixed or removable. Fixed partial dentures are commonly called “crown and bridge” because crowns are placed on the adjacent teeth and the artificial tooth or “bridge” is permanently bonded to the crowns. Removable partial dentures, also called “flippers” are like conventional dentures in that they have a pink acrylic base that mimics the look of gums; however the base is custom-designed to fit over only small areas of the gum ridge leaving spaces for the natural teeth. Removable partial dentures are attached to the surrounding natural teeth with metal clasps. Partial dentures not only fill in unsightly gaps in the teeth but also keep the natural teeth from shifting.
Implant-retained dentures look just like conventional or partial dentures, but can be distinguished by the fact that they are held in place by jaw implants, i.e., tiny titanium screws or posts embedded into the jawbone. These dentures may be partial or complete, permanently fixed or removable. There are two types of implant-retained dentures: ball-retained and bar-retained. With ball-retained dentures, the dentures are attached to the jaw implants using a ball-and-socket system. With bar-retained dentures, an arch-shaped metal bar is permanently screwed to the jaw implants; the dentures are fitted over the bar and attached to it by clips on the dentures. Implant retained dentures are ideal for people who have enough bone to support the implants and for those who want more stable, naturally-functioning dentures.
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