A denture is a removable appliance for the replacement of missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals. Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position or shifting. Partial dentures usually contain a metal framework for support. However, recently partial dentures have been constructed solely of acrylic resin for cosmetic concerns. Complete dentures are either conventional or immediate. A conventional denture is placed in the mouth about a month after all the teeth are removed to allow for proper healing, whereas an immediate denture is placed as soon as the teeth are removed. Complete dentures can also be supported by implants if bone support is not adequate. This type of denture is referred to as an overdenture.
Denture fabrication from start to finish normally takes about one month to complete depending on the difficulty of the case. Several appointments at the dental office is necessary. The initial appointment is diagnosis and treatment planning. An impression or dental mold is then taken of existing teeth and/or existing tissue structure. For partial dentures several retentive features are placed in existing teeth called rest preps and are used to retain the denture. The second appointment is a "wax try-in" appointment. What this means is wax is constructed in accordance with the existing tissue structure and used to establish a bite registration. The wax is heated and a natural bite is established taking into account proper vertical dimensions and jaw position. The third appointment is the "teeth try-in" appointment. This appointment insures proper teeth alignment, color, shape and fit. The final appointment is delivery of the denture with minor adjustments as needed and instructions given.
All denture users require some time to get accustomed to the denture. Features to get accustomed to are teeth alignment, speech and facial expression. The length of time to get used to a new denture is patient specific but could take up to eight weeks to fully adapt to the new appliance.