Comparing Partial and Full Dentures

Teeth are a vital component to life. They are the initial step in breaking down food into smaller portions which enable the rest of the digestive system to obtain nutrients from the food. Teeth are also important in speaking, aesthetics, and self-esteem. Many times in life, however, people lose teeth due to illness or injury. Some teeth, for example the wisdom teeth, can be lost without significant issues. Other teeth are more important to health and well-being. When these teeth are lost, then artificial teeth called dentures are created to replace them.

Dentures were first seen as early as the 7th century BC. Replacement teeth were often fashioned out of human or animal teeth, and were affixed in the mouth with gold bands. Wooden teeth were invented in Japan in the 17th century AD. Porcelain teeth came about in the 18th century. Today, dentures are manufactured from various forms of acrylics and other man-made materials. They can be crafted in shape and shades to more perfectly match a person’s remaining teeth or they can match the teeth that the person used to have to create a very natural and realistic facial feature.

Two main types of dentures in use today are described as either partial or full dentures. When surrounding natural teeth are still in place and healthy, a single tooth or a couple of teeth can be manufactured and either permanently cemented into the mouth, or be fitted in a metal or plastic plate, or bridge, to hold the tooth or teeth in the mouth. With permanent partial, a mold is made of the teeth on each side of the partial denture. Crowns of those teeth are created, and the partial denture is cemented to the crowns. The entire bridge is then put in place, and the surrounding teeth are covered with the crowns.

When too many of the teeth are damaged or diseased, a full set of dentures is usually required. Complete dentures can either be conventional or immediate. With conventional dentures, a mold of the gums is made after the extractions and the gum tissues have begun the healing process. The actual replacement teeth are then fixed to the gum plates. The full dentures are ready to be placed in the mouth 8-12 weeks after the dental procedure. With immediate complete dentures, the gum plate and the teeth are made in advance of the procedures, and are placed in the patient’s mouth immediately after the procedures. While this is a convenience in that the patient does not have to be without teeth for a period of time, the gum tissues change shape over the healing period, and the dentures generally have to be adjusted several times throughout the healing process.

While the obvious best course of action is to keep teeth as healthy as possible through good oral hygiene, accidents do happen, and often genetics play a part in the overall health of teeth. The medical advancements in dentistry have greatly increased the ability to save many of the natural teeth. Partial dentures are a wonderful alternative for keeping healthy teeth in place and having natural looking replacements. When saving teeth is not possible due to the extent of the injuries or disease, then full dentures are the best way to allow the patient to continue to have a healthy life, physically, mentally, and emotionally.