False Teeth

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Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Lara Coseo
Ellie Swain
Written by
Ellie Swain
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Evidence Based
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8 sources cited
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What are False Teeth (Dentures)?

False teeth are otherwise known as dentures. They are removable false teeth made with acrylic plastic, metal, or nylon. They are a common restorative dentistry treatment.

The fake “teeth” in dentures are usually made of plastic or porcelain. The fake “gums” are made of acrylics. The only exception to this is the implant-supported hybrid dentures, which is made of zirconia.

The materials used to produce dentures are more delicate than natural teeth. If dropped or poorly cared for, dentures can easily chip or crack.

The supporting frame of dentures that holds the false teeth in place resembles the natural gum line. This structure is usually created from a similar acrylic resin. Or, a more flexible polymer material is used, which fits comfortably on the natural gum line.

How False Teeth Work

Dentures sit over the gums to replace missing teeth or to remove any potential issues caused by gaps. They also help prevent problems with eating and speaking. Complete dentures can also improve the look of your smile and boost your confidence.

With time, dentures must be relined, remade, or rebased due to changes in the underlying gums and jawbone. Rebasing requires creating a new base while keeping the current set of artificial teeth.

As you age, your mouth naturally changes. These adjustments can cause dentures to loosen. This can make eating difficult, and it can be irritating to the gums too.

At a minimum, a patient wearing dentures should visit their dental technician at least once a year for an oral health checkup.

Indicators for False Teeth

Tooth loss occurs over time. However, dentures don’t have to be an option for many patients who practice good oral hygiene and have regular checkups with a general dentist.

Below are some indicators that you may require dentures in the future:

  • Visiting the dentist for a checkup is not a regular part of your dental health routine
  • You experience chronic toothaches
  • You have red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
  • You have one or more missing teeth
  • You struggle to eat and chew certain foods
  • You have frequent indigestion
  • You often hide your smile due to lost or damaged teeth

Dentures can improve the look of a smile that has several missing teeth. They can also keep the structure of the mouth steady by supporting the shape of the cheeks and the lips.

False teeth also make it possible to consume foods that require chewing. This allows patients to follow a healthy and nourishing diet consisting of different types of foods.

Dentures are an efficient solution in replacing teeth that cause severe pain and oral health problems, like gum disease or tooth decay. When dentures fit, troublesome teeth are removed and replaced with a strong and attractive alternative.

Types of False Teeth

There are several types of dentures, including:

Complete Dentures

Complete dentures are also known as full dentures. Complete dentures are fitted if all of your upper or lower teeth need to be removed.

If you need to get old complete dentures replaced, you will be provided with a new full set of teeth.

complete set of dentures on white background

For cosmetic reasons, a complete set of artificial teeth is often fitted as soon as the natural teeth are removed.

The complete dentures fit comfortably over your gums and jawbone. If you have false teeth fitted immediately after the removal of some teeth, the bone and gums will adjust in shape relatively quickly. The dentures will likely need to be relined or remade after a few months.

Sometimes, your gums may need several months to heal and mold in shape before dentures can be fitted.

A trial denture will be produced from the impressions taken of your mouth. The dental technician will try to fit this sample denture into your mouth to check the fit for you. This also gives you a chance to assess the appearance. The shape and color can be changed before the final set of dentures is created.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures fill in the gaps resulting from one or several missing teeth. Partial dentures consist of a plastic, nylon, or metal plate with several false teeth attached.

Partial dentures usually clip onto some of your remaining teeth using metal or plastic clasps. These metal clasps hold the partial dentures securely in place in your mouth.

removable partial denture lower jaw

Partial dentures can be unclipped and removed with ease. Sometimes, the clips are produced of a tooth or gum-colored material. However, these types of dentures can be quite fragile compared to metal options.

Your dentist can measure your mouth and can provide a partial denture for you. 

How to Take Care of False Teeth

Properly taking care of your false teeth ensures your gums, jawbone, and artificial teeth stay healthy long-term.

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

To clean your dentures, follow these steps:

  1. At night, gently brush the dentures with a soft denture brush 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 is 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.
  4. In the morning, brush them again and wear them throughout the day.
  5. They can 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.

How to Whiten False Teeth

There are a few ways to whiten your false teeth if they have picked up stains over time:

  • Professional denture cleaning — your dentist will polish your dentures to make them look new. This will provide the deepest clean.
  • Non-abrasive denture cleaners — these are at-home solutions that can be bought online or in drug stores. Make sure you buy non-abrasive cleaners.

Do not use whitening toothpaste or bleach-containing products to whiten your dentures. They will not whiten like natural teeth. These products can actually destroy your dentures.

Also, do not place your dentures in hot water or use abrasive products (stiff toothbrush heads and harsh toothpaste). These products can ruin and warp your dentures.

How Much Do False Teeth Cost?

Dentures cost between $650 and $4,000. Most full dental insurance policies cover up to 50 percent of the cost of dentures

Fake Teeth Alternatives

There are some alternatives to dentures that some patients may find more attractive:

Dental Implants 

Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth. A metal screw is set into the jawbone before a false replacement tooth is set. This replacement root fuses with the jawbone.

Dental implants can replace any number of teeth. A patient can have one dental implant, a full set, or anything in between.

jaw with teeth and dental molar implant

However, dental implants offer the look and feel of natural teeth. They can last for years or even decades without the need for repair or replacement.

Dental implants are significantly more expensive than false teeth. They aren’t affordable for everyone. As a dental implant requires surgery, this raises the cost when compared to dentures or fixed bridges. 

Dental Bridges

Fixed bridges are another popular alternative to dentures. Dental bridges consist of false teeth that are set in place by a dental crown.

This dental crown cements to neighboring teeth or an implant with denture adhesive.

jaw and implants with dental bridge

Dental bridges allow false teeth to fix adjacent existing teeth to hold them securely in place. Therefore, the remaining teeth must be in healthy condition.

Resources

“Complete Denture.” Complete Denture - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/complete-denture.

Edentulism and Tooth Retention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/OHSR-2019-edentulism-tooth-retention.html.

Considerations for the Use of Dental Implants With Removable Partial Dentures, Removal partial prosthodontics, 2011, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780323069908000257.

Dentures, MedlinePlus, 2015, https://medlineplus.gov/dentures.html.

Devlin, Hugh. Complete Dentures: a Clinical Manual for the General Dental Practitioner. Springer, 2012.

Types of dentures, Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279192/.

Taking care of your teeth and mouth, National Institute on aging, 2020, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth.

 

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