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On March 24th, 2020

Partial & Complete Dentures: Which Is Right for You?

Wade Klimpke
smiling woman with complete dentures

What Are Dentures?

Dentures are an option for patients that require replacements for their natural teeth and gums. Decay, disease, and other factors may cause you to lose teeth or need tooth extractions, and dentures may provide an option that allows you to eat and speak comfortably.

Dentures are available in two types; partial and complete. With either type, your denturist will make a specially formulated model of your teeth by taking impressions so they can then make custom-fitted dentures.

graphic show a complete denture on the left and a partial denture on the right

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are a suitable option when you still have one or more healthy natural teeth. To give your mouth a rest, you should remove your partial dentures every night before bed. 

Partial dentures feature artificial teeth attached to a pink or gum-coloured base with a metal framework that helps to keep the denture anchored in the mouth. They usually have clasps that attach to adjacent crowns on remaining natural teeth, providing a stable fit and natural appearance.

Fixed Partial Denture

You can refer to some permanent or fixed dentures as a “bridge.” A bridge can fill in spaces of missing teeth by using dental implants or crowns and attaching artificial teeth to them. The artificial teeth are then cemented into place and can help prevent other teeth from moving.

a graphic showing how a fixed partial denture is attached with implants and crowns

Complete Dentures

Complete (or “full”) dentures are a good option when all your natural teeth are missing. When you get new dentures, it may take some time to get used to them, and you may experience mild discomfort. 

Complete dentures are removable and stay in place by suction, although you may want to use adhesive for peace of mind. 

Based on your situation and your denturist’s advice, you may want to opt for conventional or immediate dentures.

If you need to have any teeth extracted, you can have immediate dentures fitted and placed right away following the removal. However, due to bone and gum shrinkage that may occur as your gums heal, you may need to have them refitted and adjusted.

Conventional dentures are another option but must be fitted after your gums have healed. They usually do not need adjustments and are comfortable to wear.

Denture Care

Care for your dentures just like natural teeth, or you risk a buildup of plaque and tartar. If not properly cleaned regularly, your dentures can become stained and cause bad breath and gum problems.

a graphic showing how to brush your dentures with a toothbrush

The best way to care for your dentures is to remove them and rinse them under warm water to remove any loose food particles that may have gotten stuck. Use a denture brush or soft-bristled toothbrush coupled with denture cleaner or mild soap to brush the dentures, including any clasps, gently.

Be careful not to bend your dentures as they may snap or crack, and if they become misshapen, you may need to get them replaced or refitted.

Always remove your dentures before bed to give your mouth a chance to rest. You can soak them in warm water and denture cleanser to keep them from drying out and warping.

If you have partial dentures, ensure to brush and floss your remaining natural teeth to prevent plaque from building up.

If you are considering dentures, it is always best to consult your denturist for a professional opinion on what will work best for you.

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