Summary: When a patient looses some or all of their teeth a denture will restore their appearance and function during speech and eating. A denture may have a metal or plastic base, usually though an upper denture will have a plastic base.

When teeth are to be extracted an immediate denture allows the teeth to be replaced on the same day as they are pulled out. A denture of this type though needs to be replaced after six months as it will become loose as the gums shrink during healing.

When the patient has no teeth in an arch the usual treatment is to provide a full denture. Many patients have difficulty adapting to full dentures as they are held in place by relatively weak forces when compared to real teeth.
The upper denture is held in place by suction, the saliva acts as a seal. The muscles of the cheeks also help to a lesser degree.

The lower denture is held in place by gravity and mainly by the muscles of the cheeks and the tongue. When the denture is removed from the mouth and empty space exists between the tongue and cheeks , the denture is designed to sit in the space with the muscles on either side acting as support.

When a patient has teeth, the dentist may construct a partial denture which fits false teeth inbetween the standing teeth.

The base of these dentures may be plastic acrylic or a metal called 'cobalt chromium'. The advantage of a plastic base is that it can easily have teeth added later. This is of particular importance with patients who have gum disease.

The metal bases allow a thinner base which is less obtrusive to the patient and also having the advantage of transmitting heat when food or drink is taken.

When you lose teeth, the bone that supported them disappears with time. This leads to problems later as dentures may start to rock, your face may appear to become sunken and eating may become difficult.

One solution is not to extract certain teeth which are decayed, but instead to cut the crown off and root fill the root section. The tooth then acts as a support under the denture and also decreases the level of bone loss. Treatment with these dentures tends to be more expensive than a partial denture as teeth need to be root filled and small fillings placed on the top.

When a patient has to have teeth taken out, a decision must be made whether the space is left empty or a artifical tooth used to fill the gap.

An immediate denture is placed in the patients mouth at the time of the extraction so that they don't need to walk around with a space which may be visible. Impressions are taken before that appointment and the lab technician has to estimate how the gum will be once the tooth is removed.

After immdiate dentures are placed they may become lose after a month or so, this is because the gum and underlying bone shrink after they heal. This produces a space under the denture which allows it to tip. The solution is for your dentist to 'reline' the denture, usually you will have to be without your denture for 24hours while it is sent back to the lab.