A denture is a removable appliance that replaces missing teeth. Dentures are made of an acrylic or metal base with porcelain or acrylic teeth. To custom fit a natural looking denture, accurate and detailed impressions of the remaining oral structures have to be taken. Further measurements of the jaw movements must also be recorded in order to ensure that the completed denture will function in harmony with the rest of the mouth.
A well-crafted custom fitted denture should satisfy the following conditions:
- Fit and feel comfortable and natural.
- Restore the function of chewing.
- Maintain the health of the oral structures.
- Provide a perfectly natural smile.
Dentures are divided into two main categories:
- Partial Dentures: These replace a few missing teeth and are constructed of a metal or acrylic frame forming a removable rigid base to which the teeth are fixed. They are secured in the mouth by clasps attached to the remaining teeth.
- Complete Dentures: This removable prosthesis replaces all the teeth in the mouth and is categorized as follows:
- Conventional Denture. This denture is dependant on the remaining bony ridges and the suction generated from a close fit, for its retention. It is usually made to replace an already existing denture.
- Immediate Denture. This transitional denture is inserted at the same appointment that the teeth are extracted. It saves the patient the embarrassment of going without teeth while the gums are healing. The initial denture is made as a transitional or healing denture. After the extraction or loss of teeth, the underlying bone begins to heal. As it heals, the bone shrinks causing looseness of the denture. This process takes anywhere between six to twelve months, depending on a number of factors. During that time, different materials are applied to the denture so that fit remains snug. In the first weeks after extractions, a patient may require frequent adjustments. The bone, having shrunk and held, now provides much greater space for the placement of the teeth. Changes to enhance appearance and fit can now be contemplated.
- Over Denture. These dentures are not solely dependant on the underlining bony ridges for their retention but gain their retention from roots that are treated and retained in the mouth, or from titanium implants that are fused to the bone.
- Cosmetic Denture. This is a conventional denture with a strong emphasis on the esthetics for the more demanding patient.