A denture, or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated two different ways.
- A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed.
- An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are allowed to heal under the denture. After healing is complete, the denture will need to be relined to perfect the fit.
- An upper denture has acrylic, usually the color of normal gum tissue that covers the palate (roof of the mouth) and other areas of the upper parts of the mouth.
- A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue.
The teeth are made of plastic, porcelain or a combination thereof. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically (root-canal treated teeth) and dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance.
Dentures over a normal course of time will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.