Missing Teeth: Dentures and Partial Dentures


More than 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth, and 36 million do not have any teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. Having missing teeth can change a person’s appearance and impact their confidence. It can also negatively affect the alignment of their smile, making it more difficult to chew and speak. After tooth extraction, patients have the option to restore their smile. Dentures are one of the most popular and affordable options for replacing missing teeth.

What are Dentures?

Dentures are a type of replacement for missing teeth. These devices are removable, meaning they can be taken out and placed back in the mouth. It can take time to get used to wearing dentures and they never feel exactly the same as your natural teeth. However, modern dentures appear highly natural and are more comfortable than ever before.

There are two main types of dentures: full and partial. When making the decision between them, consider your budget and the number of teeth that need to be replaced.

Full vs. Partial Dentures

If you have missing teeth due to an injury or disease, biting, chewing, and speaking can become much more challenging. Over time, missing teeth can also affect a person’s face and result in sagging muscles. If you are missing teeth, you may be considering either full or partial dentures. Let’s take a closer look at these tooth replacement options.

Full dentures consist of a custom-made set of removable teeth replacements for patients with missing teeth. They are usually designed for patients who are missing all of their teeth from both the upper and lower half of the mouth. Full dentures are constructed of flesh-colored acrylic or plastic that rests on the gums. They are molded to comfortably fit in the mouth and serve as real teeth.

If a patient still has a good number of teeth and they are still in good condition, a dentist may recommend a partial denture. They feature a plate that has one or more prosthetic teeth attached. Like full dentures, partial dentures are made with a flesh-colored acrylic or plastic base and are made to comfortably fit the mouth. Partial dentures are placed either on the top arch or bottom arch – not both.

How are Dentures Made?

When a tooth is extracted, the empty tooth socket begins to fill with bone. In just a short amount of time, the surrounding tissue heals and the area changes shape. It can take several months for the gums and bones to become stable enough for treatment. After fully healing, or about 8 to 12 weeks post-extraction, a conventional denture can be made.

The process of creating dentures begins with taking a series of molds or impressions of the oral tissues that will soon support the denture. These impressions are then sent off to a lab where models of the patient’s mouth are made. The dentures can then start being built upon these models before being transported to the patient’s mouth to ensure a proper fit. The patient may need to return to the dental office once per week for several weeks until the denture is complete. Ongoing visits to the dentist are also essential to have adjustments made.

Dentists can create immediate dentures to give patients something to wear temporarily as their permanent ones are being made. Immediate dentures are typically available the day of extraction.

Are There Alternatives to Dentures?

While dentures can be quite useful, they are not for everyone. Fortunately, there are other options for people who do not want this type of replacement. A bridge is one such option that can be used to replace missing teeth by placing a crown on either side of the space, attached to a fake tooth. Implants are another option that consists of a metal post that is inserted into the lower or upper jaw. A single tooth is then attached using a crown.

Schedule an Appointment with Bonham Dental Arts

Even with good dental health and wellness practices, tooth loss is sometimes inevitable. To learn more about treatment options for missing teeth or to schedule an appointment, contact Bonham Dental Arts.