A New Smile for the New Year: A Simple Guide to Dentures

The new year has begun and January is whizzing by. If dental hygiene or getting a new smile in 2016 was part (or the only) resolution you made, or you’ve decided that you need new dentures, then this guide will be a helpful one. Whether you’re looking to replace a few missing teeth or a whole mouthful, dentures are a wonderful way to restore your appearance and confidence, as well as make speaking or chewing easier. Let’s take a look at the types of dentures available, what to expect during the process of getting and fitting them, and what type of maintenance and oral care is required once you have them.


Types of Dentures

There are two main types of dentures, partial and complete. Partial dentures can either be removable or fixed, while full dentures are removable. (If you’d prefer a more permanent full teeth option, please check out the link for dental implants to the right.)
Partial Denture Options

Removable Partial Dentures can replace a couple of missing teeth with the help of present and strong teeth on either side. Permanent prosthesis are fabricated using alloys such as Cobalt-Chromium (Co-Cr), Nickel-Chromium (Ni-Cr), and Titanium alloys in certain cases. Sometimes a more temporary denture can be made of polymers, and are known as “plastic dentures.”


Removable dentures are easier to maintain and allow for better oral care maintenance. However, they are more delicate than their fixed counterparts, and can easily break if accidentally dropped.



Fixed partial dentures include dental crowns and bridges. Spaces are prepared on the natural teeth beside the missing ones, and the prosthesis is bonded to them using a dental cement. Fixed dental appliances can be made with Co-Cr / Ni-Cr alloys, dental ceramics with color matching, or a combination of both. While ceramic dentures are highly brittle, many patients request them when they really want an aesthetically pleasing result, usually in the front teeth. In these cases the majority of the appliance is built with alloy, while the outer layer is ceramic that closely matches the color of the surrounding teeth.


Fixed partial dentures tend to have a longer life span and withstand more pressure from chewing. However, these prostheses tend to be more costly compared to the removable option above, and can occasionally get dislocated within the mouth. Their fixed position makes oral care more difficult for the wearer, so it is very important to take the time to clean the oral cavity well if you have them.


Full Denture Options

When we think of full dentures, it’s realistic for people to imagine their grandparents. The elderly tend to need full dentures due to tooth loss or senile cavities. Within this category, patients can choose either immediate dentures or traditional ones.


Immediate dentures are pre-made and placed in the mouth as soon as all the teeth have been removed and worn as the gums heal. Unfortunately, as the gums heal, they also shrink, so immediate dentures may need several more adjustments than traditional dentures. Typically, a patient will choose to have immediate dentures through the healing process and then get traditional ones once its complete.


A bit more is involved with traditional dentures. They won’t be placed in the mouth until 8-12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.



The Process of Making Dentures


Prior to having teeth removed or dentures places, a few visits to your dentist will be required. First, an impression or mold of you mouth will be taken. During the next appointment, your dentist will do either a recall or bite registration, or a wax try-in. This will depend on how many natural teeth you still have. A bite registration is done by having you bite down on soft wax so the dentist has a better idea of how your jaws and teeth line up, and will ensure that the dentures are comfortable and work correctly in your mouth. The wax try-in offers you a first glimpse of how your dentures will look. The denture teeth are set in wax and placed in your mouth. Then your dentist and you work together to note any changes in position or color that need to be made to the final product.


Dental impression in soft wax.


Sore spots are common during the 6 month healing process succeeding tooth extraction. Once healing is complete, either you’ll have your permanent dentures placed or your dentist will do a hard reline of the polymer one you’ve already been wearing. Your dentist will make adjustments, and you may have some follow up visits scheduled to ensure everything is going smoothly, and that you aren’t having any problems or issues maintaining them and your oral hygiene while they’re in use.



Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Dentures


There are several misconceptions about dentures. While removable dentures do need to be soaked nightly, they also need to be brushed just like your natural teeth would be. Additionally, keeping your mouth free of plaque and bacteria is vital to successful denture use. You will still need to brush, floss and rinse your oral cavity twice daily, as well as meticulously clean around fixed dentures. This will not only reduce the threat of developing oral and bodily healthy problems, but also extend the life of your dentures’ strength and appearance.



Removable dentures need special care. In addition to regular brushing with a non-abrasive toothpaste, they also need to be soaked in water when not in use to safeguard against dehydration, which can warp or fracture the apparatus. It’s also important that you do NOT use bleaching agents to try to whiten your false teeth. Bleach leeches the dyes used in the acrylics of dentures, making them clear in color.


A New Smile for a New Year


With the above information and a consultation with your dentist, you can be on your way to getting a full, bright smile this wonderful New Year. Dentures are a great option to help regain confidence as well as the ability to use your mouth properly again. If you’re in West Texas, please consider Dr. Ku and his staff for this endeavor. We’d be happy to set up a consultation and answer all your questions.

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