Dentures, or false teeth, refer to the prosthetic replacement of all the teeth on one or both arches. They are most often spoken of as full or complete dentures as opposed to partial dentures which are used to replace only a few missing teeth. For this article, we are only discussing full dentures replacing all of the missing teeth on one arch. An arch which is missing all of its teeth is considered to be endentulous.
Two Types of Dentures
There are two types of dentures. One is the conventional and the other is an overdenture. The conventional full denture is most often made of very hard acrylic which contains fibers resembling tiny blood vessels in the “gum” portion of the denture. This enhances the esthetics and looks very natural. The teeth themselves are made of either very hard acrylic or porcelain and come in a large variety of shades and shapes. The natural look is always priority number one along with function.
The patient is seeking a very esthetic, stable, comfortable, and functional denture which does not affect speech and is very natural-appearing and absolutely does not look like false teeth.
Most patients are quite pleased with their upper denture and are usually involved with tooth selection and arrangement, and must approve the final setup before it is processed. The upper denture gains its retention from suction on the palate, similar to two pieces of glass with water between them. This retention is less true on the lower arch due to the U-shape of the lower ridge, the tongue in the middle, and the lessened area available for load distribution. Sometimes a dental adhesive may be necessary.
Cost of Dentures
The cost of dentures ranges from approximately $600 to $3,800 per arch.
An over-denture, as opposed to a conventional denture, is generally superior in that it is placed over a limited number of teeth which are shortened, rounded, and usually treated with root canals. An over-denture may also be placed over implants, with or without a bar or superstructure onto which the denture clips. The implants may be within the bone (endosteal) or on top of the bone and under the gums (sub-periosteal).
The cost of an over-denture is slightly higher than a conventional denture, plus one must add the additional cost of the implants, superstructure, or treatment of the shortened teeth.
If a patient has reached the point where their teeth are well-beyond repair and must be removed, often the back teeth are removed first and the area is allowed to heal. Then a denture is prepared and is immediately inserted upon removal of the front teeth. The patient is never without front teeth. This is called an immediate insertion denture. The cost is approximately the same but four months later, the denture must be relined and the patient must be without if for about 6-8 hours. This reline fills the voids under the denture where the gums and bone have shrunk during healing. There is an additional fee associated with this reline.
- Two types of full dentures—conventional and overdenture
- Cost ranges from $600 to $3,800
- A type of full denture is the immediate insertion denture–
- Dentures are very esthetic and natural looking