Complete and partial dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth. Complete dentures replace missing teeth for people with no remaining teeth and a partial denture replaces several teeth. Missing teeth may be a result of gum disease, tooth decay or traumatic injury. For a person’s health and well-being, missing teeth should be replaced as soon as possible. Failure to replace missing teeth can cause remaining teeth to shift, difficulty biting into or chewing food and a sagging facial appearance.

Complete Dentures

Complete dentures can be either "conventional" or "immediate." Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.

Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.

Partial Dentures

Removable partial dentures are replacement teeth on a metal framework over top of pink coloured plastic made to resemble gums. They attach to your own teeth with metal clasps. They are a cost-effective alternative to bridges or implants, but they do not perform as naturally and can be mobile while in the mouth. If you need any other dental work (crown or fillings) it is recommended to be done before the partial is made as this will ensure a more precise fit than doing the other dental work afterwards. There is also a partial that does not contain a metal framework, commonly called a "flipper".

When Metal Framework (Cast) Partials Are Indicated

  • A lower-cost alternative to an implant or bridge is desired

  • There is not enough bone or support from other teeth to do an alternative treatment.

  • More chewing surface is necessary and as a means to keep other teeth in position.

When A Flipper Is Indicated

  • A replacement tooth is needed very quickly – most often in the front as flippers push on the gum tissue they are usually only used for a short time (months).

  • A temporary tooth while another option is being done for the long term.

How Many Appointments Are Necessary?

Usually at least five appointments are necessary. The first appointment consists of taking impressions of your teeth to make a "custom tray". The custom tray is then used at the next appointment to take a very precise impression of your teeth. Teeth are prepared by making small "dips" in a few of them for the partial to sit on. The next appointment the metal part of the partial is tried in (sometimes this appointment can be combined with the next one). On the fourth appointment, the acrylic teeth will be tried in and evaluated. On the fifth appointment, your partial will be tried in and you can take it home. A flipper takes 2 appointments, one for the impression and one to ensure the flipper fits.

Caring For Your Partial Denture

To keep it very clean to avoid decay on remaining teeth and irritated gums. Brushing it daily will also prevent the buildup of stains on it. You should brush it with an extra toothbrush using liquid dish soap, at least once a day. Liquid dish soap will not be as abrasive as toothpaste. After meals you may need to take it out and rinse it.

What To Expect Over Time

Your bone under the denture will continue to shrink naturally over time. In the long term, you may need to reline your denture or have a new one made. If you lose other natural teeth, you can usually have acrylic teeth added to your partial denture. This addition takes 2 appointments.