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What Are Dentures?

If you have missing or badly damaged teeth, dentures can restore your smile. A denture is a removable dental appliance made of acrylic plastic — and sometimes porcelain and metal — that replaces missing teeth and tissues. Due to advances in dentistry, dentures are more natural looking and comfortable than before. A denture can improve your appearance and help you chew properly and speak well again.

The Right Denture for You

Depending on your situation, you may need either partial or complete dentures. Partial dentures fill in the gaps between a missing tooth or teeth. If you no longer have any natural teeth, complete dentures replace all of your teeth and their adjacent tissues.

There are two kinds of complete dentures, immediate and conventional. Immediate dentures are fit into the mouth as soon as any remaining natural teeth are removed. Additional adjustments in the fitting of this type of denture may be necessary as healing occurs, because your gums and bones may shrink over time.

dentures in a glass of water

One of the benefits of immediate dentures, however, is that you won’t be without teeth during the healing process.

Conventional dentures are made at least six to eight weeks after your natural teeth are removed — this allows for the gum tissue to heal before the dentures are placed in your mouth.

Caring for Your Dentures

  • Each day, remove and brush the dentures carefully. Use a brush and cleanser that are both specifically designed for denture cleaning.

  • Remove a partial denture before brushing your natural teeth.

  • Avoid the use of harsh abrasive cleaners on your dentures.

  • Do not clean or sterilize your dentures in boiling water, or damage to the denture is likely to occur.

  • When you’re not wearing your dentures, soak them in a proper cleansing solution or water.

  • Keep the dentures in a safe place, out of the reach of children.

  • See your dentist regularly. Checkups are important to maintain a proper fit for your dentures.

“What Is a Denture?” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, January 2012. Accessed 2013.

“Health Topics: Dentures.” Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, April 29, 2013. Accessed 2013.

“Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth.” National Institute on Aging, April 2011. Accessed 2013.

“Prosthodontic Procedures — Bridges, Crowns, Dentures, Dental Implants and More.” American College of Prosthodontists. Accessed 2013.

“Dentures.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

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