Dentures are prosthetic devices used to replace missing teeth and are designed to look like natural teeth and gums. They have been around and in use as far back as 700 BC, when people used to make them from animal or human teeth – luckily things have progressed a lot since then! They are now made in a laboratory from manmade materials such as acrylic.

Left: Cobalt chrome dentures Right: Acrylic dentures

How do they work?

Denture works by giving the patient synthetic teeth, which enables them to eat and talk as they did before they lost their own teeth. They also provide support for the lips, chin, and cheeks, as without them the patient’s face can often look aged and sunken. They also act to improve speech and more generally a patient’s self-esteem.

When would I require dentures?

They are usually associated with the elderly who have lost their teeth over the years, most commonly due to decay and dental disease. However, dentures can be used for many other generations of patients and are not only for a total loss of teeth but also for the loss of just one or more teeth.

What types are available?

There are three types of dentures which are ‘complete’, ‘partial’, and ‘over’. ‘Complete’ dentures replace the full upper or full lower jaw, or both, and fit over the existing gum or jaw. ‘Partial’ dentures are used for partial replacement of the teeth and are made to fit between the existing teeth, even if they are broken, using clasps to hold them in place. ‘Over’ dentures utilize attachments that hold the dentures down; these attachments are often placed in the tooth roots or implants.

What are dentures made of?

Most dentures are made of a plastic material called acrylic. This is the pink bit that you see on most dentures. To make the dentures fit more comfortably in the mouth, by making them less bulky, most of the acrylic bits of the denture can be replaced with Chrome-Cobalt. These Chrome-Cobalt dentures are also stronger than their acrylic counterparts.

How do I eat with dentures?

It is advisable to take your time initially, as it can take a while to get used to wearing the dentures, just as it can with any unfamiliar object in the mouth e.g. braces. A good tip at the beginning is to try eating small chunks of food whilst you adapt to them. Also, using denture adhesive can help to keep the denture in place, making it easier to chew food.

How do I look after my dentures?

You should clean your dentures using a toothbrush and toothpaste; brushing and soaking them in a bowl of cold water. Do this over a towel just in case you drop them! Fizzy cleaning tablets are available to use with the dentures. However, they should only be used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

How long will the dentures last?

The longevity of dentures depends upon different aspects. You must keep them clean and look after them properly as staining can occur as it does on natural teeth that are not well looked after. Your gums can also shrink and therefore your bite changes, so the denture may no longer fit the shape of the jaw. However, the denture does not always need to be replaced, as cleaning by one of our dentists can remove stains and they can sometimes be adjusted to accommodate movements in the mouth.