Should You Get Partial Dentures or Full Dentures?

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Partial Dentures or Full Dentures – Which Option is Best For You?

Dentures are an excellent option that we have to accommodate the loss of teeth. It is an option however that comes with a ton of misinformation in regards to types offered, how to properly care for them, application, cost and life expectancy of your new teeth. Let’s start with why you may need dentures in the first place. Tooth loss may be caused by a variety of issues such as poor dental hygiene, injury or lack of tooth growth for example. Due to the range of issues, it is essential to not only think about the immediate needs for a new smile but also the long term needs. Due to the differences in types of teeth replacements, thinking about the future, comfort and cost will all be important factors in making your decision. It is also imperative to find a dentist who specializes in cosmetic dentistry and who you can trust to assist you in making this decision.

dentures patients smiling on the beach in Santa Monica

Types of Dentures

First, let’s discuss the different types available to you – partial and full dentures are the two options out there to know and understand. A partial is used if a person is missing some teeth only, but still retain their actual teeth in some areas. We will discuss in further detail how this type of denture is fixed in the mouth in a bit. A full set is used when all teeth are missing; this can be either the top row of teeth or the bottom row of teeth. Full dentures come with two options, an immediate option, and a conventional option. Depending on your needs, as discussed below, you and your doctor will decide on which set will meet your personal needs.

Partial Dentures

Partials are created to fit a gap in your mouth where one or more teeth are missing. They are fixed in your mouth via a bridge connected to teeth you still have in your mouth. However, here is when you and your doctor will need to discuss the option that will work best for you. Partials come with a removable and permanent option depending on your needs at that time. A removable partial denture is connected to a “gum” colored appliance and can be held in place in the mouth with a metal frame that allows it to stay in the mouth. As the name indicates, you can remove this piece as needed – bedtime, eating, etc. and to be cleaned. This option is available if there are teeth still available in the jawline to connect it to.

A permanent partial denture is a bit different than it’s removable counterpart, as it requires crowns to be placed on teeth. If a permanent partial denture is chosen, crowns will be placed on the teeth at either end of the space in which the denture will be spanning. Due to needing to put crowns on the outlying teeth, this option is a bit more invasive but also longer lasting. Due to the permanent nature of the partial denture, you will need to work closely with your dentist to ensure proper hygiene of the fixtures and your surround teeth and gum tissue to avoid future problems.

Lastly, there is a precision partial option that can be an option. This option is a mixture of both the removable and permanent dentures discussed above. The precision partial denture allows for the piece to be removed and has the most natural of appearances. This version is still attached via crowns at both ends of the gap for the bridge to connect to. However, instead of it being cemented in place like the permanent partial denture, the precision partial denture is held
in place with an internal attachment.

Full Dentures

Next, we will discuss full dentures and the two options available there, immediate and conventional. The direct option allows for an instant result after teeth are pulled so that a person does not have to go a long period without teeth. This is the pro to this option; the cons to this option are that it is only recommended as a temporary solution. These immediate dentures are “ready-made” before tooth removal and therefore allow you to have teeth during the healing process. During the healing process, the gum line changes due to bone deterioration to some degree and the immediate dentures will not be a perfect fit for very long and will most likely result in the need for adjustments to them while healing. This is why they are only a temporary solution until you can get conventional dentures.

Senior couple riding a classic scooterConventional dentures are ready to go within 8-12 weeks post surgery/tooth removal and are made to the wearers’ specifications. This option allows for a more personalized fit, fewer odds of discomfort and fewer adjustments need to be made in the immediate future. This option will mean you have to go without teeth for up to 12 weeks unless the immediate route is utilized as well. Conventional false teeth can last you years if fitted properly initially if taken care of and with routine visits with your dental provider.

Your dentist will provide you with the specifics of how to care for your dental implant whether it be a partial denture or a full set. It is imperative to follow the instructions provided on how to keep them clean, what to do/not do with them and how often to visit your provider to ensure ongoing care rather than the need for emergency care if left neglected. Some essential items to consider are – full dentures may become ill-fitting due to ongoing bone deterioration and other changes of the gum line over time, mention these things to your dentist once you begin to notice them. The clicking of your teeth should not happen and needs to be reported to your dentist as well. It is also recommended to slowly reintroduce foods to your diet with a full set of dentures so that you go through minimal discomfort through the transition.

Talk To Your Dentist About Your Options

The cost will vary for these denture options and the more work needed, will most likely result in a higher price overall. However, some insurance plans will assist to some degree in the cost of the orthodontic items, and you should contact your insurance company to find out what they will or will not cover and with whom. Getting crowns on your permanent teeth to accommodate partial dentures may result in later concerns over time such as tooth loss or the need for root canals in the future – consider this as well when making your decisions.

Once again, it is of vital importance to discuss your options with your doctor to ensure you getting to the best device for you and your personal needs. It is also imperative to work closely with your doctor on a routine basis to avoid developing any additional issues related to your orthodontic appliance. Please note that you will most likely need a new set of dentures over time and for bridges/partial dentures to be replaced as these options are not permanent solutions.

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