Woman's hands holding a pair of dentures

A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types Of Dentures

Dentures serve as artificial teeth to replace a few or all missing natural teeth. They have both a functional and cosmetic purpose. Denture costs range from $1000 to $3000 or more and, in most cases, are covered at least in part by dental insurance.

People get dentures when they can no longer use their natural teeth or their natural teeth pose harm to their health. This can occur due to:

  • Periodontal disease (most common)
  • Poor oral care
  • Tooth extraction
  • Missing tooth
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Certain genetic diseases
  • Aging

If you’ve decided you’d like to explore the possibility of getting dentures or your dentist has recommended dentures as an option, there are several things you should know.

The first is the various options you have when it comes to dentures. You and your dentist will decide if fixed or removable dentures are right for you based on your lifestyle and oral health.

Once that’s determined, you’ll need to narrow down your choices within these two categories.

What Are the Different Types of Dentures?

Complete Dentures

Complete dentures, also called full dentures, replace your entire set of teeth. They are needed when all efforts to save natural teeth, a less-than-ideal circumstance, have failed.

They are not as stable as your regular teeth or as stable as dental implants anchored into your jawbone. In most cases, people with complete dentures develop speech impediments because they are thicker than natural teeth.

However, they restore your ability to chew and can improve confidence in your appearance. They are also one of the most effective tooth replacement options when you have few or no natural teeth left.

Unfortunately, complete dentures require maintenance over time and tend to slip around in the mouth.

Closeup of a senior woman's mouth, smiling to show her dentures

Fixed Partial Dentures

Fixed partial dentures, also called implant-supported bridges, replace a few missing teeth adjacent to each other with a prosthetic tooth or teeth in between.

Fixed partial dentures are screwed into the mouth with an implant or are permanently glued in the mouth. This type of denture is best for patients who have three or more missing teeth in a row.

A fixed partial denture is more secure and stronger than removable dentures, but they require surgery to install and cost more than the other tooth replacement options.

Removable Partial Dentures

A removable partial denture can replace some missing teeth in the jaw. As their name indicates, they are removable for cleaning and other reasons. This type of denture looks and feels natural and functions much like your natural teeth.

Removable partial dentures include the appropriate number of teeth set on a gum-coloured acrylic base. This base is attached to metal or plastic clasps to hold the dentures in place.

This type of denture is best for people who aren’t good candidates for implant-supported bridges due to the need for surgical implantation.

A removable partial denture is sturdy, easy to maintain, and cost-effective. However, they’re only able to replace a few missing teeth. The clasps might show when you smile, and plaque can build up if they are not cleaned properly.

Implant-Retained Dentures

Implant-retained dentures or overdentures sit on top of the gums. They might be held in place by implants or placed over the upper or lower jaw.

These dentures are more stable and make it easier to chew than other types of removable dentures. They don’t loosen when chewing or speaking and offer a comfortable, custom fit.

However, they usually require surgery that might entail bone grafting or sinus augmentation. They are also expensive.

Immediate Dentures

This type of denture is placed over the area where your natural teeth were extracted to protect the gums and allow time to heal. It takes six to eight weeks after extraction to wear dentures safely.

Immediate dentures improve your appearance and allow your mouth to heal. They are temporary solutions and don’t look as natural as long-term ones.

They allow you to eat and talk normally, for the most part, while your mouth heals. Because they are only intended for short-term use, they break easily, and bacteria tend to build up.

All-on-4 Implant Dentures

This type of denture is ideal for people who need a complete set of replacement teeth. They replace all of your missing teeth.

They are semi-permanent dentures, which means you do not remove them at night (you can’t remove them), but your dentist can remove them.

They are more durable than traditional dentures and have a more natural appearance. You’ll have temporary eating restrictions after the dentures are in place.

Senior man holding his lower denture

Budget or Economy Dentures

This type of denture can cause harm to your mouth and further destroy your oral health. Economy dentures are not custom-made.

The only reason people opt for this type of denture is that they have no other choice financially.

They tend not to offer much security, which affects your ability to speak and chew. They are also uncomfortable because they are not custom-fitted to your mouth.

Do I Need Dentures?

The best way to know if you need dentures is to speak to your dentist. They can recommend the best option for replacing your natural teeth. You might have an increased risk of needing dentures if you:

  • Are male
  • Are 35 or older
  • Have diabetes
  • Have heart problems
  • Smoke or use other tobacco products
  • Have rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neglect at-home and professional dental care

How Do I Get Used to My Dentures?

Once you have your dentures–fixed or removable–getting used to them will take a little time. The following tips will make this transition process easier:

  • Follow all post-op instructions from your dentist/dental surgeon.
  • Avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods for a while.
  • Practice speaking and moving your facial muscles.
  • Practice proper dental care.
  • Use denture adhesive when needed if you experience irritation.

If you notice your dentures aren’t fitting correctly after a few weeks or have any other questions, it’s essential to contact your dentist. Call us now if you’d like to learn more about the best options you have for replacing your natural teeth.