If Saturday morning cartoons have taught us anything, it’s that dentures only come in one variety: Full top and bottom sets of teeth, either soaking gruesomely in a glass by your grandparents’ bedside, or chattering around on their own like a wind-up toy. Right?
Actually, dentures come in a variety of types (and are not, unfortunately, capable of autonomous movement!) Modern dentures are high-tech, custom-crafted works of cosmetic dentistry designed to precisely suit the needs of the patient. So which type of dentures is right for you?
Partial, Full, and Implant Dentures
If you’re only missing a few teeth, you might not think of dentures at all. This stems from a common misconception that dentures only come as full sets of teeth. In reality, partial dentures are a common and affordable solution to a few missing teeth. They’re made of a few false teeth designed to sit on top of your gums, and are secured to adjacent teeth using hooks or clasps.
While partial dentures may be the right solution for some people, they aren’t generally recommended. This isn’t just because they’re often uncomfortable and unattractive — it’s also because they can cause damage to adjacent teeth, and even increase your risk of tooth decay. Instead, if you’re only missing a few teeth, many dentists will recommend dental implants. Implants are attractive, sturdy, and permanent. And if you have just one missing tooth, a dental bridge may also be a good option.
If you are actually missing a full arch of teeth, full dentures are a great solution. These dentures will be custom fitted to use suction to adhere to the ridge of your gums for a sturdy fit. Upper dentures include a full plate that fits over your palate to provide extra security. Dentures have come a long way in the last few decades, and the best of them are now virtually indistinguishable from real teeth. However, they still need to be removed and cleaned often, and can irritate the gums, particularly if they’re poorly fitted.
Finally, implant dentures provide a sturdier fit because they’re secured to your jawbone with dental implants. This is a good midpoint between dental implants and dentures, because the fit will be sturdier and more reliable than regular dentures, but you can replace whole arches of teeth with only a few implants, rather than having a whole set put in. Plus, the implant can help prevent your jaw bone from losing bone density by stimulating the bone.
Dentures aren’t the only option for tooth replacement, either! Dental implants are a tried and true solution to tooth loss that can replace missing teeth permanently. Implants are custom designed to look just like your real teeth, and since they’re rooted in your jaw, you can use them exactly the same way you’d use a regular tooth without fear of damage or pain.
If you aren’t sure you’re ready to take the plunge for dental implants, dental bridges are a great semi-permanent option for replacing a few teeth.