This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are in the mouth. The condition of the other teeth also affects the decision. There are three main ways to replace the missing teeth. The first is with a removable false tooth or teeth - a partial denture. The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth. The third is with dental implants. See our separate sections on Dental Bridges and Dental Implants.
Why should I replace missing teeth?
Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean greater strain is put on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your "bite" is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes both decay and gum disease.
Dentures can make you feel more comfortable about your smile and make eating and speaking easier. They are removable substitutes for missing teeth, and can be made as partial dentures, replacing a few missing teeth, or full or complete dentures, replacing a whole set of teeth. Plastic dentures that is necessary to restore or maintain oral health are available on the NHS.
Dentures are usually made from an acrylic base - a type of plastic, which is fitted with artificial teeth, and will be made to look as natural as possible.
What is a partial denture?
This is a plate with a number of false teeth on it. It may be all plastic or a mixture of metal and plastic. Both types may have clips (clasps), to help keep the denture in place in the mouth. Depending on where they are, some of these clips may show when you smile or open your mouth.
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An impression and precise measurements are taken of the mouth over a number of visits and given to a dental technician, who will build bespoke dentures to the correct size and shape.
A trial denture is made, fitted by your dentist, and small adjustments made to ensure you are happy and can bite comfortably. This is then sent back to the technician, where the teeth are permanently fixed, and returned to your dentist for collection.
Should I take my denture out at night?
Dentists recommend removing your dentures at night to give your mouth a chance to rest. If you remove your dentures, it is important to leave them in water to prevent any warping or cracking.
How do I look after my denture?
The general rule is brush, soak, brush. Always clean your dentures over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them. Brush your dentures before soaking, to help remove any food debris. The use of an effervescent denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your denture feeling fresher. Then brush the dentures again, as you would your own teeth, being careful not to scrub too hard as this may cause grooves in the surface. Make sure you clean all the surfaces of the dentures, including the surface which comes into contact with your gums.
Can my dentures come loose when eating?
Yes. Denture adhesive paste or strips can be used, or implants can provide the necessary stability to securely fix dentures in place.