Types of Dentures and How They Work

Dentures are removable replacements for those who have lost some, or all, of their natural teeth. These replacements are impressions taken of your mouth and custom-made in a dental laboratory. The two main types of dentures are full dentures and partial dentures.

Partials are replacements for those who are missing only some of their teeth, and can be made according to where the teeth are missing in the mouth. Full dentures come in two kinds—the conventional full denture, and the immediate full denture. Your dentist will help you decide which type is best based on the number of teeth that have been, or will need to be removed, as well discussing the cost of the new dentures.

Because natural teeth help to preserve bone structure, a dentist will only remove those that are necessary for your health. The remaining teeth will help keep the new dentures stable in the mouth, and reduce shifting. Natural teeth also bear some of the pressure sustained when chewing, as well as reducing the burden on the rest of the jaw. It is also beneficial because if you have not lost all of your teeth, you can also get a better sense of where your jaw is and the kind of pressure you’re placing on the new dentures.

The process of creating types of dentures will happen over several dentist visits.

  • The dentist will make multiple impressions of your jaw, as well as taking measurements to figure out how the jaws line up, and the amount of space that is between them.
  • Models, plastic patterns, or wax forms are created in the shape the new dentures will need to be.
  • You’ll be asked to try out these model dentures, so the dentist can decide whether or not the shape and fit are suitable, and also that they are the right color to match the inside of your mouth before the real dentures are made.

If the model fits all the criteria, the dentist will cast the new dentures. When they are ready, you will again try them to see if any final adjustments will need to be made. This is the process for all types of dentures, and though it will take several weeks, and appointments, it will be worthwhile when you receive your new, perfectly-fitting dentures.

Different Types of Dentures

Conventional Full Dentures

types of denturesConventional dentures are used when all of the natural teeth have been removed. After removal, all the tissues in the gums must be fully healed before the dentures can be used. This healing process could take several months, and you will be without teeth for the entire length of time.

When the gums are healed, the dentures can be placed in the mouth. A seal is created with the gums to hold them in place. Some denture wearers prefer to have dental implants surgically added to the jaw bones, though this is a more expensive alternative. The full dentures are usually made with a plastic base, complete with a set of plastic or porcelain teeth. The base is colored to blend with the rest of your mouth.

Immediate Full Dentures

types of denturesUnlike with the conventional dentures, you do not need to wait for your gums to be healed before inserting the immediate full dentures. They can be used right after all of the remaining teeth have been removed. There is an advantage to this, because you’ll never have to be without teeth.

Of course, as the gums heal, the bones will reshape, and the dentures will become loose. This will require them to be relined several times during the months of healing. For this reason, immediate full dentures are usually recommended as a temporary measure until a set of conventional dentures are made available.

Partial Dentures

types of denturesThese types of dentures are used when only some of the teeth need to be removed.They are made with a pink or gum-colored base, made of plastic, with replacement teeth attached.

Sometimes, partial dentures have a metal frame, and connect to the teeth using clasps, though more natural-looking devices referred to as precision attachments,which replace the clasps with internal attachments, can be used for a more aesthetic appearance.

A partial denture is used when the surrounding teeth are too weak to support a bridge, or if there are too many teeth missing. To replace one, or only a few teeth, a fixed bridge is made, and works by placing crowns on the teeth around the open space. An artificial tooth will be placed where the missing tooth used to be. These new denture teeth will not only fill the empty space, but they will keep the remaining teeth on either side from changing position.


Though dentures are often necessary for patients who need them, they may be uncomfortable for the first few weeks, and sometimes even a few months. Simple things like eating or speaking, may now require some practice. Your dentures could feel bulky compared to your natural teeth, and your tongue may feel crowded in your mouth.

You might find that you suddenly have an excess of saliva to deal with as well. There could be some discomfort and soreness with the new dentures, but that is not uncommon.  If the irritation becomes too much to bear, consult with your dentist to ensure that they fit properly and are not in need of an adjustment.

Eventually, when your mouth has adjusted to the new dentures, they will no longer be uncomfortable, and your speech and ability to eat will be back to normal. Of course, over time, the shape of your gums and jaw will change, and your dentures will loosen. As with the new dentures, this will cause some irritation, and again make chewing more difficult. When this occurs, your dentures will most likely need to be relined, and it is time to consult with your dentist.

In essence, there should be only a small noticeable change in appearance as dentures are made to closely resemble your natural teeth. These replacements may even improve your smile and compliment your facial appearance.


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