The Difference between Dentures and Partials

Growing up, we may have had an elderly relative who wore dentures and liked to scare us by popping them out ghoulishly. But contrary to popular belief, there are many reasons for tooth loss besides aging – and many solutions to tooth loss other than loose, artificial-looking teeth!

Full Dentures

Full dentures, a.k.a. overdentures

  • Replace all of one’s natural teeth
  • Provide support for the cheek muscles and lips
  • Improve a person’s ability to speak
  • Can be inserted immediately after all the teeth are removed, however, immediate dentures will require adjustments, including re-basing or relining, to fit properly once the gums have fully healed
  • Are usually made from acrylic
  • Rest directly on the gums
  • Upper dentures are held on to the roof of the mouth via suction and are thus usually much more stable than lower dentures

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures (removable)

  • Are removable teeth that fill out your smile, replacing any missing teeth
  • Usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink plastic bases that are connected by metal attachments and clasp onto your natural teeth
  • May require crowns over your natural teeth for a precision fit
  • Prevent the surrounding teeth from changing position
  • Are usually made with acrylic teeth

Full or Partial?

If you have no natural teeth left, you are an obvious candidate for full dentures, however, even people who do have some remaining teeth may opt to have these teeth extracted, rather than try to bridge many gaps with partial dentures – particularly if the remaining teeth are compromised in some way. The decision, of course, will be up to you – with the help of an experienced denturist who can explain all your options.

Implant retained dentures, which are growing in popularity, are becoming increasingly affordable for patients and offer a much greater degree of stability than traditional dentures because the teeth are securely attached to implants in the jaw, rather than simply sitting on the gumline. Dental implants and non-removable dentures mimic natural teeth better than do full or partial dentures. Your denturist can give you more information on the different types of implant supported and non-removable dentures.

It’s important to remember that whether you choose full or partial dentures according to your particular needs, they’re going to take some getting used to, particularly if you have lived without some or all of your natural teeth for a long time. Your tongue and cheek muscles will have to get used to the placement of the new dentures, and you will have to learn to speak and eat with them, as well as recognize problems such as your dentures becoming loose or component parts wearing down. However, most patients are delighted with their new realistic looking and feeling dentures, as compared to struggling with the physical and psychological discomfort of missing teeth.






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