Dentures – Are they really as bad as people think?

If you have missing teeth dentures are one of a variety of ways to help you smile, eat, laugh and chew again with confidence. As well as dental bridges and dental implants dentures may be the perfect option for you. Dentures tend to be cheaper than bridges and dental implants, because they also replace soft tissue (gum) they can also be a more cosmetic way to replace missing teeth in some situations with patients that have lost a lot of bone. Patients are often asking what are the best dentures on the market?

This blog post will answer that very question.

Types of dentures

Dentures come in 2 primary varieties:

  1. Full dentures
  2. Partial dentures
Full denture

A full denture

Full dentures replace all of the teeth in a single arch, either the upper or lower arch. Partial dentures are used for patients wishing to replace missing teeth but who still have some of their own natural teeth. Very often these existing natural teeth can be used to anchor the partial denture.

A partial denture

A partial denture

The different types of dentures can also be made from different materials:

  1. Plastic/Acrylic dentures. Specifically Poly Methylmethacrylate.
  2. Cobalt chrome
  3. Gold (not used much nowadays due to the cost)
  4. Thermoplastic nylon materials (flexible dentures)

Plastic dentures

Classic plastic dentures have been around for many years, however they have improved in quality significantly, especially in the last 5 to 10 years where technicians have been able to contour and colour the pink plastic gum to exactly match the natural shapes and colours of the human gum tissue. This makes modern cosmetic plastic dentures highly aesthetic and almost undetectable from natural teeth.

Plastic dentures are most commonly used for full dentures, replacing all of the teeth in a single arch. Fully plastic dentures are less common when being used for partial dentures due to strength issues.

Cobalt chrome Metal dentures

Chrome is extremely strong and very light at the same time. It is also relatively easy to process and manufacture plus is highly biocompatible making it an ideal material to be used in partial dentures. When chrome is used to make a denture it is almost invariably used on the inside of your teeth closest to your tongue, keeping it hidden in this way means we can get all of the strength from the metal yet hide the unsightliness of it, covering the outside surface with tooth and gum coloured plastic.

Gold dentures

Gold is used in the same way as cobalt chrome, it is slightly more aesthetic but is much softer and of course, comes with a much higher pricetag. For this reason it has fallen out of favour for use in partial dentures.

Flexible dentures

Plastic and metal dentures have been around for many years now with little change. Flexible dentures on the other hand utilise modern advances in material technology which has enabled dental technicians to manufacture dentures from thermoplastic, nylon materials. These modern materials are virtually unbreakable, highly aesthetic, biocompatible and much softer than plastic or metal dentures. This makes them far more comfortable to wear with the wearer often finding they get fewer ulcers as a result.

Permanent dentures

Permanent dentures are also often known as fixed dentures. In essence, they can be made of the same plastic materials as regular dentures but they often have an internal high-strength core made of metal, most typically chrome cobalt or titanium. Utilising the most modern production methods dental laboratories can now make this high-strength framework using CADCAM technology, this ensures some of the best accuracy and consistency in manufacture around.

Permanently fixed denture on dental implants

Implant retained dentures

Permanently fixed dentures are most commonly fixed to dental implants, these dentures are known as implant retained dentures. They can be used to replace multiple missing teeth or to replace all missing teeth. If you need a full denture typically for to 6 dental implants can be placed, the implants have an attachment on top into which the permanently fixed denture is screwed. These fixed dentures can be removed by your dentist but cannot be removed by yourself at home.

This means you need to be particularly careful and vigilant of cleaning to ensure you clean adequately under and around the fixed denture in order to keep it clean and your breath fresh.

Living with dentures

If you have dentures it doesn’t mean that you can ignore your dental health. You will still need to look after your delicate gums and clean around existing teeth if you have a partial denture. Your denture itself also needs to be looked after.

How to clean dentures

Typical advice for cleaning dentures involves not using regular toothpaste as this can be rather abrasive, especially on plastic dentures. It is possible to purchase ultrasonic cleaning baths to clean dentures, as well as using special cleansing tablets.

We also recommend cleaning dentures over a sink filled with water. One of the most classic ways that dentures get broken is if they are dropped into the sink whilst cleaning. Filling a sink means that if you drop your denture it will at least fall into water rather than break against the sink bowl.

Loose dentures?

Loose dentures can be caused by a variety of reasons, if you have partial dentures then the clasps (clips) which grip hold of the natural teeth holding your denture in place can move or bend. If these move then the grip on the natural teeth can reduce and the denture can become loose.

Clearly, if you have a full denture there won’t be any clasps, so why does a full denture become loose?

The reason is that our bodies are living and breathing organisms, constantly changing. As we get older the bone in our jaw has a tendency to resorb. As it resorbs it takes the covering gum with it meaning your jaw is continually changing shape. This even happens if you have all of your teeth, the bone resorbs pulling the gum with it and the teeth become more exposed and look longer… Hence the expression ‘longer in the tooth’.

If you have a denture, this movement of the bone and gum can mean that the denture can become loose, if this has happened then you will need to visit a dentist and your dentist can reline the denture. This effectively keeps the teeth and gum on the outside of the denture in exactly the same place and relines the inside of the denture with new acrylic to fit over the new shape of your gum. Whilst not looking any different this can have a dramatic impact on how well your denture fits.

Fixing a lose denture

Fixing a loose denture with a reline by replacing material where your bone has resorbed.

How much do dentures cost privately?

Dentures will vary in price depending upon the material used, the complexity of the tooth replacement and the dentist you visit. A typical denture will start at around £700. This can be much cheaper than a dental implant which can cost from £2500.