While the word may conjure images of sunken cheeks and rattling teeth, dentures have come a long way in recent years. These days, modern dentures are more comfortable and natural looking than ever before. If you are considering full dentures (or partial dentures), here’s what you need to know to re-achieve your dazzling smile.

How do dentures work?

In the U.S., an estimated 120 million people are missing at least one tooth. Dentures are artificial teeth fitted to either a plastic or metal base (or mixture of both) designed to replace one or more missing teeth.

They help maintain the natural shape and structure of your jaw, but they also perform another important function. Many people who choose not to replace their missing teeth suffer from malnutrition because they simply cannot eat a variety of healthy foods. Replacing missing teeth means patients can comfortably eat the foods they love.

Finally, these are a great solution to replacing teeth that are painful or causing other oral health issues. Infection and periodontal disease can lead to serious health issues. With advances in dentures, patients do not have to suffer or worry about if their dentures will feel stable and look natural.

What are the different types of dentures?

According to the George Washington legend, his only option was a full set of wooden clackers. These days, dentures come in a variety of cutting-edge materials and constructions.

What are common denture materials?

They used to be made of porcelain or ceramic. These days, most dentures are made of hard resin. Although this material is not as strong as natural teeth, it can be custom fitted and matched to existing teeth for a more discreet look.

In some cases, flexible polymer replaces the hard resin material at the gumline for a more comfortable fit. Metal is also used in implant-supported types (see below).

Fixed vs. partial dentures

Full dentures work for patients who have no healthy teeth to preserve. These completely replace all teeth and are held in place with a full upper palate section that suctions the device in place.

Since there are no natural teeth to support them, some patients opt to use adhesives such as creams, powders, pads/wafers, strips, or liquids. These should only be used as directed to preserve the health of the patient’s gums and the life of the dentures.

Partial dentures, on the other hand, are used when there are healthy teeth remaining but the healthy teeth are not strong enough to support a dental bridge. They are fitted over the gums and existing teeth and can be removed.

Patients can get either full or partial implant supported devices.

Bar-retained vs. ball-retained implant supported dentures

Implant supported dentures snap into place with implants. Implants placed into the bone of the jaw provide more stability. Also called fixed dentures or overdentures, implant supported dentures are fitted most commonly in the lower jaw but can be fitted in the upper jaw as well.

There are two types of implant supported dentures: bar-retained and ball-retained.

Bar-retained devices use a bar that follows the line of the jawbone, and ball-retained uses essentially a ball and socket arrangement. Each implant has a ball on it that snaps securely into a socket located on the denture itself.

Implant-supported dentures are also called one day or snap-in dentures because they “snap” into place on the implant.

Answers to common denture questions

Since we see a number of dental patients, we’ve heard some of the same questions over the years. Here are our answers to some of your most FAQs about dentures. If some of these answers don’t line up with your dentist’s advice, always follow your dentist’s recommendations completely as they are more aware of your current situation.

Can you sleep with your dentures in?

Although it is possible to sleep with your dentures in, most people find they sleep more comfortably without them.

When they are out of the mouth, they should be stored in water to prevent them from warping.

How to clean dentures

As with nat