What is a denture?

A denture is a removable option for the replacement of any missing teeth. This can be as a partial denture, when you have some natural teeth remaining, or a complete denture when you have no teeth remaining. Partial dentures can be used to replace just a single tooth or nearly every tooth and every combination in between. They have many different applications and are an economical way to give a patient back their smile and chewing teeth. Your dentist will be able to advise which type of denture is best suited to your needs.

Dentures usually require 4 to 5 visits to make and then expect a few visits to adjust sore spots as the dentures settle in during use.

Most dentures will last 5-10 years but this does depend on the health of supporting teeth, strength of bite force and stability of supporting gums.

As we get older our gums change and various repairs and maintenance are likely to be needed to extend the life of a denture. This may be in the form of adding a tooth if a natural tooth has to be extracted, repairing a broken base, chipped tooth or a reline, to ensure the denture is seated properly in the mouth.

Many factors influence the success of dentures, one of the most important being how well you look after them and any remaining natural teeth, hence we recommend regular prevention and plaque control visits with the hygienist.

Prices from £1400 for a full set.

Types of dentures

Acrylic (plastic) dentures consist of the denture teeth attached to an acrylic base plate. The stability (i.e. rocking) and the retention (i.e. how well they grip and stay in place) are reliant on three things:

  • The denture fitting closely and tightly against the gums and natural teeth (Upper dentures use mainly suction to stay in place and lower dentures the gums and muscles)
  • The use of wrought metal clasps (retainers) to grip the teeth
  • In cases where only a few teeth remain, a well fitting base plate, covering as much of the hard tissue, (that's the jawbone, palate and/or ridges) in your mouth as possible.

They are the best option when:

  • Lots of changes are expected or needed as time progresses
  • As a training denture before having to wear a full denture
  • A tooth has been lost through trauma
  • A tooth has been extracted as they are easily relined as the gum heals
  • A temporary solution is required as part of a more extensive course of treatment, such as implants

Advantages of having acrylic dentures

  • Least investment required
  • Easy to alter such as adding a tooth or relining
  • Easiest type to take in and out.

Disadvantages of acrylic dentures

  • Least grip (retention)
  • Least stable
  • Often bigger and more bulky
  • Requires more muscle control
  • Have a tendency to break more easily
  • Design has to cover the palate if teeth are missing on both sides of the upper arch, this affects detecting temperature and the chewing experience.

Cobalt chrome (metal) dentures have a metal base plate or framework that sits on and around the natural teeth onto which denture teeth are attached by acrylic. They are the first choice of denture where biting space is limited and/or when the highest strength is required, and/or bulkiness needs to be minimised.

The stability and the retention is affected by both the number and position of any remaining teeth. The design of the denture is bespoke to you to optimize stability and retention. Teeth may need adjusting to make sure the denture has the best possible grip and resistance to the forces experienced when chewing.

They are the best option:

  • Where the mouth is unlikely to change
  • Where you have suitable natural teeth with a good prognosis
  • In patients where muscle control is compromised
  • For patients with a gag reflex due smaller size and close fit.

Advantages of having a cobalt chrome denture

  • Smaller, thinner and more streamlined
  • The best grip (retention)
  • Best chewing experience
  • Easier speech as can have palate more uncovered
  • The most hygienic
  • Very close fitting and precise
  • Are designed specific to each mouth - numerous features can be incorporated to improve the denture.
  • Can use precision attachments to avoid visible clasps
  • Very strong

Disadvantages of having a cobalt chrome denture

  • More expensive initially and when any changes need to be made
  • Some changes can be difficult to do (such as adding teeth), as this depends on the design and a remake is occasionally needed
  • Problems with natural teeth such as fractured fillings will affect the fit of the framework
  • Are made of metal which may be visible
  • Technically more difficult to make and fit

Flexi-dentures (e.g. Valplast) are a relatively new development in denture materials. The teeth are attached to a slightly flexible gum coloured denture base which extends to make the clasps, meaning they are completely metal free. Stability and retention come from the very close fit of the denture, and the flexible gum coloured clasps that extend from the denture to tightly grip the natural teeth.

Just as in acrylic dentures, flexi-dentures get their support from sitting on the ridges in the mouth.

They are the best option:

  • Where the mouth is unlikely to change
  • Great for a single missing tooth at the side or back (premolars/molars)
  • In patients where muscle control is compromised but not dexterity-for putting them in and taking them out, can be more difficult than acrylic dentures
  • Where there is an allergy to metal or a metal free denture is desired
  • As a thinner alternative to acrylic dentures when many teeth have been lost and hence more grip is required

Advantages of having a flexi-denture

  • Easy to adapt to
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Smaller and thinner than acrylic dentures
  • Better grip than acrylic dentures
  • Aesthetic - blend very naturally with the gums
  • Metal free
  • Good chewing experience
  • Slightly flexible so almost unbreakable
  • Don't require as much muscle control as acrylic

Disadvantages of having a flexi-denture

  • Plaque retentive and requires special cleaning product
  • Difficult to adjust and add teeth
  • Can be difficult to remove if dexterity impaired
  • Less chewing strength as denture flexes slightly in use

Light metal plate

This pleasant lady was unhappy to smile and had difficulty chewing with her old worn plate.  A new plate with a strong light metal base was made by Dr Briony Wood and she was able to smile without embarrassment and choose anything to eat on the menu!

Full upper denture

This gentleman was nervous and had avoided the dentist for years. He had worn down his lower teeth and just had a few remaining upper roots in. After discussing all the options to restore his smile and chewing capacity Dr Briony Wood designed and fitted an upper denture and placed white fillings to build up his lower teeth. He can chew his food and smile with confidence and wonders why he didn’t do it years ago!

Valplast denture

This is Mrs S, she was very unhappy with the condition of her front teeth - it affected her confidence significantly. The upper spaces were filled with a flexible Valplast denture, vastly improving her appearance.