A smile just isn’t a smile if it’s incomplete. Missing teeth cause a host of problems, from difficulty speaking and eating to low self-confidence to jawbone deterioration.
Don’t give up on your smile. Advances in dental materials and technology have made full and partial dentures more lifelike and comfortable than ever.
This page will provide an overview of full and partial dentures, but it cannot advise you about your unique situation. The best way to determine whether dentures are the right tooth replacement option for you is to speak with West University dentist Dr. Heather Fleschler in person. Please call 713-660-6500 today to schedule an appointment at our Houston office.
What Are Dentures?
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They can be full (replacing all the teeth on either the upper or lower jaw) or partial. Partial dentures are sometimes called bridges. Complete dentures are called conventional, which actually could be called “permanent,” and are placed from two to three months after tooth extraction. Another term you may have heard is “immediate dentures,” but those are simply temporary dentures that are used while your gums heal, and your conventional dentures are being fabricated.
Dentures are built upon a framework, called a plate, usually made from rigid acrylic resin, flexible nylon polymer, or cobalt metal. When full dentures require an artificial gum line, the resin is used because it can be tinted to accurately match the patient’s natural gum color. The artificial teeth are made from acrylic resin or porcelain.
What Are The Benefits Of Partial Dentures?
The most obvious benefit is the return of the patient’s complete smile. Whether through poor hygiene, trauma, or other reasons, people can wind up with a number of missing teeth. Because our teeth stay in place in our jaw due to the pressure placed upon them by the teeth on each side of them, when we’re missing teeth the teeth on each side of the gap tend to slide over into the gap. This creates problems with your overall alignment and with your bite, and that can lead to bigger issues such as increased tooth wear and temporomandibular joint disorder. A partial denture uses any existing teeth as anchors, and it fills in the gaps of the missing teeth. This is aesthetically pleasing, and it keeps the teeth in place.
Partial dentures also enable the wearer to eat a full diet. When a person is missing a number of teeth, he or she usually avoids eating certain foods because chewing can be a problem. This means the person will often eat fewer fruits and vegetables, as they are harder to chew and can lodge in the spaces caused by the missing teeth.
Partial dentures are typically removable, and this makes hygiene easier. The prosthetic is easy to clean, as are the gums beneath it.
Returned confidence in your smile is probably the most valued benefit. When we’re missing a few teeth, most people unconsciously try and cover their mouths to not show the gaps. This is difficult when speaking in groups at social events or at work. A complete smile eliminates those issues and returns confidence.
Also, partial dentures are less expensive than dental implants for replacing a series of missing teeth. While implants are the superior option for tooth replacement, placing a number of implants are usually cost-prohibitive for most people.
Full Vs. Partial Dentures
A partial denture, commonly referred to as simply a partial, consists of multiple teeth on a gum-colored base. The teeth are not in a row, but rather spread across the base to fit like a puzzle with your existing teeth. A partial is normally secured with clips or brackets, but unlike a dental bridge, a partial is removable.
A full denture is a complete top or bottom row of teeth mounted on a gum-colored base. Dentures can be closed or open palate, and they may require denture adhesive to hold them in place.
Implant-Supported Dentures And Partials
Dental implants are small titanium posts anchored into the jawbone. If you prefer a secure full or partial denture and do not want clips or adhesive, then consider implant-supported dentures. In a brief surgery, Dr. Fleschler can secure a few dental implant posts to hold your dentures in place. With implant-supported dentures, you won’t have to worry about slippage, and your prosthetic will feel safe and sound.
How Long Does The Partial Denture Process Take?
Once Dr. Fleschler addresses any problems with tooth decay and gum disease and extracts any teeth that can’t be saved, the next step is to take impressions and images of your existing teeth and bite. These are then sent to the dental lab for fabrication of your partial denture. This process usually takes about three weeks. When your partial denture is finished, you return for a second appointment and Dr. Fleschler checks the fit and the color match with your other teeth, and she places the partial denture. That’s it.
How Long Will My Partial Denture Last?
There are many factors that affect the lifespan of a partial denture. Where is partially located? What materials were chosen for construction (cast, acrylic, and flexible acrylic)? What are the eating habits of the wearer? Does the person eat lots of hard, chewy foods? How is the hygiene of the remaining natural teeth that anchor the partial denture?
Partial dentures typically perform their best for 5 years and then begin to degrade. The upper limit for most partial dentures is around a decade before the prosthetic needs to be replaced.
Can You Sleep With Partial Dentures?
Unlike complete dentures, which need to be removed every night to allow the gums to rest and breathe, you can sleep with partial dentures. That’s not a recommendation from Dr. Fleschler, however. While you can sleep in a partial denture, it’s still a good idea to take it out most nights. Most people do use the nighttime to soak their partial dentures in the cleaning solution. This helps the acrylic retain its shape and stay fresh. Plus, even though partial dentures don’t fully cover the gums like full dentures do, removing them allows the antibacterial agents in your saliva to get to work helping keep your mouth clean.
What Are The Risks Of Partial Dentures?
There aren’t any risks with partial dentures. Whether removable or fixed, these are simply dental appliances that replace missing teeth. Partial dentures, and full dentures, do not help the patient with jawbone loss, but this isn’t a risk per se. Because our jawbone receives energy passed down through the teeth into the jawbone when we bite and chew, this is how the jawbone is triggered to continually shed old bone cells and replace them with new bone mass. This is how our jawbone stays healthy. When we are missing a tooth or teeth, the jawbone in that area now no longer receives this energy, so it begins to deteriorate. Dentures don’t stop this bone loss, but it’s not really a risk, more of a continuation.
“Dr. Fleschler is the best dentist I’ve ever been to, and the only dentist I’ve been to in whom I’ve had complete confidence. She does an excellent, careful job. She explains what she’s doing and why. Her offices are beautiful and very professional. Her staff, such as Marcy, Nancy, and Lisa, are really excellent as well. I’m very happy with Dr. Fleschler’s office and wouldn’t consider going anywhere else.”
– Tom P.
Schedule A Consultation
If you’re interested in learning more about dentures and partial dentures please contact us for a consultation at 713-660-6500 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.