Partial, Removable, or Fixed Dentures? You Decide.

Tooth replacement options

Choosing the best tooth replacement option for you

When it’s time to make an important choice, we love having options. Even if we have to research each of our options and weigh them a little more carefully, having choices is often better in the long run because it ensures that we find a solution that genuinely works well for us. After all, few issues have a truly one-size-fits-all solution. This is especially true when it comes to your oral health and needing to replace missing teeth.

Thankfully, even if you’ve lost many or all of your teeth, modern dentistry has several tooth replacement options for you to choose from, including partial, removable, and fixed dentures. But what exactly are these tooth restorations, and how do you know which is best for you? To help you choose the best treatment, we’ve broken each option down for you.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are pieces of acrylic, sometimes strengthened with metal, that support prosthetic teeth. They’re used to replace several missing teeth along a single arch and are often held in place using precision attachments or clasps that are attached to the healthy teeth on either side of the gap in your smile.

Just like other dental restorations, partial dentures are custom made just for you and are designed to look as natural as possible. The goal is for your partial denture to blend in with your natural smile, so the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth, and the acrylic gum material beneath them, are all carefully matched to your existing smile. Anyone who has lost multiple teeth but whose remaining teeth are relatively healthy is a potential candidate for partial dentures.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Like other tooth replacement options, a major advantage of partial dentures is that they fill in the gap in your smile. This restores a lot of the function and appearance of your missing teeth and protects your oral health by preventing your remaining teeth from shifting into the gap. The biggest advantages to partial dentures are that they don’t require any invasive procedures and they’re one of the most cost effective tooth replacement options.

Despite their customized appearance, partial implants don’t look as natural as other options. They won’t feel as natural, either, and it can take some time to get used to the way they feel in your mouth. They also can’t prevent the bone loss in your jaw that’s caused by tooth loss. This bone loss can weaken your jaw, change the shape of your face over time, and make it harder to get tooth replacement options supported by dental implants in the future; so, it’s a consequence you’ll need to consider before you decide if partial dentures are right for you.

Care and Long-Term Results

Following your dentist’s instructions to care for your partial dentures is an important part of keeping your oral health in great shape and ensuring the restoration lasts as long as possible. Partial dentures are removed at night, but they need to be kept in water or soaking solution at night to prevent them from losing their shape. You should also brush your dentures every day with a brush and cleanser that are specifically designed for dentures.

Partial dentures can be quite fragile, so using products that are designed for them is the best way to keep them in great shape while also keeping them clear of bacteria, smelling fresh, and preventing staining. Generally, partial dentures need to be replaced every five to 10 years due to wear and tear and changes in the shape of your jaw.

Traditional Removable Dentures  

Traditional removable dentures are likely what you picture when you think of dentures. They consist of an acrylic base that’s designed to match your gums and that supports an entire arch of prosthetic teeth. Removable dentures are often used to replace either one or both arches of your teeth. Each denture is custom made for you, allowing you to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth. Anyone who has lost all or most of the teeth on a single arch of their mouth is likely a good candidate for removable dentures.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Similar to partial dentures, full dentures cost less and are a minimally invasive tooth replacement option, making them worth considering for many people. They’re especially useful for people who already have extensive bone loss in their jaw, as they don’t require you to have healthy bone density like implants do.

Dentures can make a huge difference in your daily life, making it so much easier to eat and speak. They’re held in place by suction and shouldn’t slip or move around in your mouth when you eat or speak if they fit well. The materials used for dentures have improved a lot in recent years—the restoration is a single, cohesive piece so they also look pretty natural. It shouldn’t be noticeable to others that you’re wearing dentures, which will help restore confidence in your smile.

There are a few downsides to dentures that you should know before you choose them. Like partial dentures, they cannot prevent bone loss in your jaw. In fact, the way removable dentures sit in your mouth can wear the bone away beneath your gums faster. Over time, this can change the shape of your face, giving it the sunken-in appearance typical of many denture-wearers.

Additionally, while dentures cost less initially, they need regular maintenance. The way your dentures fit will change over time due to bone loss in your jaw, so they need to be evaluated every year to see if they need adjustments. This means continued costs in the long term. The fact that these costs are spread out makes it doable for many people, but it’s important to know this before making a decision.

Care and Long-Term Results

Caring for removable dentures is also a lot like caring for partial dentures. They need to be cleaned with specialized brushes and cleansers every day, taken out to soak in water or a soaking solution at night, and rinsed before you put them back in your mouth in the morning.

Removable dentures are often fragile, so you should handle them carefully when you clean them, including putting a rag in the bottom of your sink in case you drop them. You’ll also need to clean your gums carefully to keep them healthy. Taking good care of your dentures will help them last longer, but they’ll still need to be replaced every five to 10 years due to wear and tear and bone loss that changes the way they fit.

Fixed Dentures

Fixed dentures, often called implant-supported bridges, are dentures that are fixed in place because they’re supported by dental implants. These implants are titanium metal rods that are embedded in your jawbone to replace your missing tooth roots. Implants are versatile, so they can be secured with a range of tooth replacement options, including either partial or full dentures. This means that implant-supported dentures could be a great option for you no matter how many missing teeth you need to replace.

That said, dental implants require healthy bone density in your jaw and several surgical procedures, so they’re not always the right option for everyone. If you’ve already lost a lot of bone density in your jaw, you may need a bone graft before you can receive the implants you need to support a fixed denture.

You also may not be a good candidate if you have health issues that make you vulnerable to infection or slow your healing process, so it’s important to discuss the procedure with your doctor beforehand. Despite these limitations, many people are still great candidates for dental implants, making them an incredibly popular procedure.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Implant-supported dentures share the benefits of other tooth replacement options, but they often improve upon those benefits. Since they’re rooted into your jaw like natural teeth, they provide a level of security and strength that other tooth replacement options simply can’t match, allowing them to feel completely natural.

With implant-supported dentures, you even have the security and freedom to eat whatever you want without worry! They also look more natural than other tooth-replacement options. The use of implants gives fixed dentures a unique advantage. They’re the only tooth replacement option that prevents bone loss in your jaw, protecting the health of your jaw and maintaining your face shape long term.

The biggest downside of implants is that they are more expensive up front and can take quite a while to receive, generally requiring multiple procedures spread out over several months. This is mostly because you need time to heal between each procedure. Despite this, the process is often easier than many people expect, and it provides life-long results that many people feel are worth it.

Care and Long-Term Results

Caring for implant-supported dentures is more like caring for your natural teeth, but you do have to commit to a very good at-home oral hygiene routine. Brush your dentures with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a non-abrasive toothpaste twice a day, floss every day, and use mouthwash. This keeps your gums healthy and your breath smelling fresh while preventing your fixed dentures from developing stains.

With proper care, implants are designed to last an entire lifetime—you’ll never need to get them replaced! You will eventually need to get your dentures replaced, but without bone loss, they last much longer than other types of dentures—they typically last approximately 15 years before needing to be replaced.

Which option is right for you?

If you’re still wondering which tooth replacement option is best, the answer is that it depends! Everyone is different, so the best option for you might be different than it is for someone else. When you’re choosing your treatment, it’s always best to consult with a dentist specializing in prosthodontics near Buffalo MN. They’ll examine your teeth and jaws, listen to your treatment needs and wants, answer all of your questions, and recommend the treatment they feel is best for you.

Having so many options when it’s time to replace missing teeth can feel overwhelming at first, but it’s a key part of ensuring that you get the absolute best treatment with results that you love. If you’d like to learn more about tooth replacement options, or would like to begin your treatment process, feel free to schedule a consultation at our Buffalo dental office any time.

DCA of Buffalo