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Types of Dentures & Indicators for Treatment

Alyssa Hill Headshot
Written by
Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Khushbu Gopalakrishnan
8 Sources Cited

What are Dentures?

Dentures (false teeth) are synthetic replacements for missing natural teeth. Tooth decay, gum disease, and facial injuries can lead to tooth loss.

Some dentures replace a few missing teeth. Others replace all teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues.

Missing teeth can cause facial muscles to sag over time. Dentures are designed to help fill out your facial profile and improve your appearance. They also make it easier to eat, chew, and speak regularly.

The different types of dentures include:

  • Complete (full) dentures replace all missing teeth, gums, and tissues. These can be removed by the user at any time.
  • Partial removable dentures replace some missing teeth. These can also be removed by the user at any time.
  • Fixed partial dentures replace some missing teeth. They can't be removed by the wearer.
  • Implant-retained dentures provide an anchorage for the teeth to connect to when in the mouth. These dentures are removable.
  • Implant-supported dentures are similar to implant-retained dentures but can only be removed by a dentist, not the wearer.
  • Immediate (same day) dentures allow for tooth extractions and denture installation on the same day.

What Causes Tooth Loss?

Tooth loss is the main reason people get dentures.

There are a few primary causes of tooth loss:

You're also at a higher risk for tooth loss if you:

  • Are older than 35
  • Are male
  • Smoke or use tobacco products
  • Have rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Don't get professional teeth cleanings and exams regularly
  • Neglect dental care, including brushing twice a day, flossing daily, using fluoride, and rinsing with mouthwash

Types of Dentures

There are many different types of dentures available. The type that is best for you depends on your oral health status and lifestyle.

complete denture NewMouth

Complete Dentures

Complete dentures are also called full dentures. They're replacements for entire sets of teeth.

Most dentists will try to save at least some natural teeth before recommending full dentures. But complete dentures are usually necessary if all other options have been exhausted.

These dentures are completely customized and restore the shape and look of natural teeth. They also improve mastication (chewing), but never to the same level as natural teeth. Denture wearers usually only have about one-fourth to one-fifth of the mastication efficiency as those with natural teeth.

Dentures are made of acrylic resin and are only supported by remaining hard and soft tissues. They are not as stable as natural teeth or implants, which are anchored into the bone.

Many people also develop speech impediments with complete dentures. This is due to the thickness of the material covering the palate and neuromuscular control of the tongue and cheeks with the new prosthesis. The acrylic cannot be thinned significantly, as this will cause fractures over time. Some people adapt to it over time, while others don't.

Elderly people are the most common candidates for complete dentures. In rare cases, young patients may also be candidates. This is only the case if they lost all of their teeth from an injury or severe tooth decay.

Pros
  • Restores eating and chewing
  • Improves self-esteem and confidence
  • Maintains a fuller, more youthful appearance
  • Cost-effective
Cons
  • Requires maintenance like relines and repairs
  • Retention of lower dentures declines over time
  • Can slip out of place when speaking or eating
  • A lisp may develop
implant supported bridge NewMouth

Fixed Partial Dentures (Implant-Supported Bridge)

Fixed partial dentures (FPD) are also called implant-supported bridges. FPD's replace a few missing teeth in a row with two dental implants and a prosthetic tooth or teeth in between. They are permanently glued or screwed into the mouth.

Unlike complete and removable partial false teeth, implant-supported bridges are not removable.

Pros
  • Improved aesthetics
  • Patients typically feel more secure with fixed (permanent) dentures
  • Stronger than removable false teeth
  • Consistent tooth positioning and better bite
Cons
  • Requires surgery
  • Cost is higher than removable dentures
  • More difficult to keep clean (requires special floss)
removable partial denture NewMouth

Removable Partial Dentures

Removable partial dentures (RPD) only replace some missing teeth. An RPD consists of replacement teeth attached to a plastic, gum-colored base.

Some RPDs have a metal framework, including metal clasps that hook onto the adjacent teeth for increased support. They restore the natural look, feel, and function of teeth.

RPDs can be removed at any time and replaced easily. They are commonly recommended for people who aren't good candidates for an implant-supported bridge. This includes people who can't or don't want to undergo surgery.

Pros
  • Durable due to the underlying metal framework
  • Easily removable for cleaning
  • Don't break easily
  • Cost-effective
  • Maintain the structural integrity of your mouth (prevent teeth shifting)
Cons
  • Can only be used to replace some missing teeth
  • Prone to plaque buildup if not cleaned properly
  • May have some metal clasps that show when smiling
fixed implant denture NewMouth

Implant-Retained Dentures (Overdentures)

Implant-retained dentures click into place and latch onto abutments (metal posts). These dentures support more than one tooth and, oftentimes, an entire set of teeth.

They have more stability and chewing function than conventional dentures. However, you must remove them every night to clean them and allow your gum tissues to rest.

Pros
  • Stable and robust
  • Won't loosen while speaking
  • Good chewing ability
  • Comfortable, custom fit
  • More aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking than traditional dentures
Cons
  • Invasive surgery
  • Increased treatment time
  • Expensive
  • May require a bone graft or sinus augmentation to support the denture implants
  • Attachments can become loose and require tightening
removable denture NewMouth

Immediate Dentures

After all of your teeth are extracted, you must wait at least 6 to 8 weeks before traditional dentures are placed. This gives your mouth enough time to heal.

Removable immediate dentures are placed directly after your natural teeth are extracted.

Although convenient, immediate dentures are more challenging than traditional dentures because they are not molded to your gums. They also don't look as natural and require more upkeep.

Pros
  • Provide a temporary solution for eating and talking after getting teeth extracted
  • Allow you to have teeth while your mouth is healing, reducing the amount of time you don't have teeth
  • Serves as a bandaid to help extraction sites heal, minimizing swelling and bleeding
Cons
  • Not a long-term solution
  • Not as natural looking as permanent dentures
  • Prone to breakage and bacteria buildup
  • Requires multiple adjustments and, eventually, reline or replacement

Who is a Candidate for Dentures?

Men and women with significant tooth loss are candidates for dentures. False teeth are not dependent on age, but more so on the condition of your teeth.

It's also important to have enough jawbone structure and healthy gum tissue remaining. False teeth need a sufficient amount of support from natural tissue to remain in place for a long time.

The most common age group with false teeth is people 65 and older.

How to Care for Your Dentures

Dental plaque buildup on false teeth can lead to bone loss, bad breath, and stomatitis (inflammation of the soft tissue lining inside the mouth).

Another risk factor of poorly kept dentures is a fungal infection called oral thrush.

To prevent these conditions, practice proper denture care:

  1. At night, gently brush the dentures with a soft denture brush and liquid soap without microbeads (not toothpaste) to remove plaque.
  2. While brushing, removable dentures should be held over the sink with a small washcloth. This washcloth acts as a cushion if they drop. It's common for false teeth to break if dropped into the sink, on the counter, or on the floor.
  3. Soak them in a commercial denture-cleansing liquid overnight. In the morning, brush them again and wear them throughout the day.
  4. They can also be soaked overnight in white vinegar diluted with water to remove calculus or to prevent the formation of calculus. Full-strength vinegar is acidic and can damage the surface of the teeth, causing acid erosion.

When Should You Repair or Replace Dentures?

False teeth become discolored over time (just like natural teeth). If your dentures chip or crack, they might only need a minor repair. If they break, you'll need to replace them quickly.

Tips for Getting Used to Dentures

Here are some tips for adjusting to new dentures:

1. Follow your post-op instructions

Your dentist or prosthodontist will provide you with aftercare instructions. Make sure you follow them carefully to ensure proper healing and comfort.

If you have removable dentures, refrain from removing them too often. It's essential to wear them throughout the day to get used to them quickly.

"Regardless of the type of denture you choose with your dentist, keep in mind that any new prosthesis will take time to adjust to. Just like it takes your body time to get used to a new pair of eyeglasses or shoes, your mouth will need time to get used to your new prosthesis," says Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists. "Be patient and always follow up with your dentist with any questions or concerns. They are there to help."

2. Only eat soft foods at first

For the first few days post-op, only eat soft foods to prevent additional discomfort.

According to Dr. Aggarwal, once you are more comfortable, you can cut up harder foods into small pieces and eat them on both sides towards the back. Never bite into an apple or a granola bar with your dentures, as it can cause them to dislodge.

3. Practice speaking & exercise facial muscles

Practice speaking out loud to exercise your facial muscles and prevent any unwanted speech issues. Singing can also help you form words correctly.

4. Brush your dentures and gums regularly

Brush your dentures and gums regularly to prevent bacteria buildup and bad breath.

5. Use denture adhesive when necessary

A denture adhesive can be used to soothe any irritation.

If you notice that your dentures aren't fitting properly, set up an appointment with your dentist. Adhesives can't fix poorly-fitted dentures, says Dr. Aggarwal, and shouldn't be used as a crutch.

Cost of Dentures & Insurance Coverage

Most full dental insurance policies cover at least some of the cost of dentures.

According to Carefree Dental, the cost depends on the chosen type and individual insurance coverage policies:

Complete denture $1,300-$3,000 (upper or lower, not both)
Temporary (immediate) denture $1,500-$3,200 (upper or lower, not both)
Partial removable denture $650-$2,500 (upper or lower, not both)
Implant-retained denture (overdenture) $1,500-$4,000 (upper or lower, not both)
Snap-in denture $1,500-$4,000 (upper or lower, not both)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about dentures. All of these answers have been written or reviewed by Dr. Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists.

How much are partial dentures?

Partial dentures cost $650 to $2,500 for an upper or lower denture, not both.

Does Medicare cover dentures?

Medicare doesn't cover dentures or other dental devices like partial plates. Medicare Advantage plans sold through private insurance companies may provide coverage for dentures and other dental care.

Does Medicaid cover dentures?

Medicaid coverage varies by state. This document detailing Medicaid Adult Dental Benefits from the Center for Health Care Strategies Inc. provides an overview.

Contact your state's Medicaid department for more information.

What are dentures made of?

Dentures are usually made of acrylic, metal, nylon, and/or plastic.

How do you clean dentures?

Dr. Aggarwal says dentures should be cleaned with a liquid soap without microbeads, not toothpaste. They are very abrasive and can scratch dentures.

Gently brush the dentures with a soft denture brush to remove plaque. Soak them in a commercial denture cleanser liquid overnight.

In the morning, brush them again before you insert them. They can be soaked overnight in white vinegar diluted with water to remove calculus. Full-strength vinegar is too acidic and can damage teeth from acid erosion.

Are there any alternatives to dentures?

According to Dr. Aggarwal, implants can be used for a variety of dentures, including implant-retained or supported prostheses.

Are dentures worn all day?

Most dentures can be worn throughout the day but should be removed at night, says Dr. Aggarwal.

Can you eat with dentures?

Yes, you can eat with dentures in your mouth. It may be difficult to eat at first but you'll get used to them over time.

Dr. Aggarwal says it is always better to cut up harder foods and chew them on both sides of the back of your mouth, rather than biting into an apple or granola bar with your front teeth.

Do dentures change the way you speak?

Dentures can change the way you speak at first. Your voice might also sound different (but only to you). This is because the sound travels to your ears through vibrations in the skull and jaw. Dentures increase this sound, but only you will notice the change.

Do dentures change the way you look?

Dentures change the appearance of your smile. If you had many missing teeth, especially in the front, dentures will improve your self-confidence.

Your face might have a sunken appearance after you lose teeth, says Dr. Aggarwal. Conventional dentures can provide lip and cheek support so your face has a more full appearance.

Can I get my teeth pulled and dentures on the same day?

You'll go back in to get your permanent dentures once your mouth fully heals, says Dr. Aggarwal.

When should I use a denture adhesive?

If your dentures don't fit properly, you can use denture adhesive to keep them in place temporarily.

How often should I see my dentist if I have dentures?

After you adjust to your new dentures, visit your dentist at least twice a year for routine check-ups. This is the same for patients who don't have dentures.

What do new dentures feel like?

Your dentures may feel bulky and uncomfortable at first. This is normal and will get better over time as you adjust.

Many people experience speaking, chewing, and eating difficulties during the first few weeks.

Extra saliva flow is also common.

Last updated on May 3, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 3, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. Complete Denture.” Complete Denture - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics.
  3. Devlin, Hugh. Complete Dentures: a Clinical Manual for the General Dental Practitioner. Springer, 2012.
  4. Hollins, Carole. Basic Guide to Dental Procedures. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.
  5. Rangarajan, V., and T. V. Padmanabhan. Textbook of Prosthodontics- E-Book. Elsevier India, 2017.
  6. Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.
  7. Tooth Loss in Seniors.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  8. Upper Denture Savings.” Carefree Dental.
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