A complete denture or plate is used when someone is missing all of their teeth. A full denture is usually made of a plastic material that matches the patient’s gingiva color and plastic teeth. It is important to remember than a full denture is not a replacement for real teeth, but a replacement for nothing. The most perfect denture in the world cannot compare to the chewing efficiency of one’s natural teeth; therefore, new denture wearers will be carefully instructed on what to expect from their new dentures.
For patients that currently wear dentures, several options for adjusting an older denture are available. These include a soft reline and a hard reline for dentures that have become loose over time. Many times patients are more comfortable with a soft reline; these last a few months at a time, while a new denture is being made. This gives the patient a “back-up pair” in case something untoward was to happen to their newer dentures. Also, the hard reline option is irreversible while the soft reline option can easily be redone.
Dentures can also be supported by implants for greater retention; see the “Implants” section for further details.
Partials (Removable Partial Dentures, “RPD”):
A partial denture (also sometimes called a plate) serves as a replacement for teeth (one or more) when the patient has sound teeth remaining. These come in a variety of designs and materials, and each partial will be designed to fit your specific needs. Generally, RPDs can either have a metal framework or an all plastic framework. Each provides clasps to retain the partial by hugging the undercuts of the teeth. The metal framework provides better retention and is extremely resistant to flexing under chewing stress. The all-plastic partial tends to blend in to the gums better, but is also more flexible while chewing. Each type can be very successful, but careful planning of the patient’s desires, needs, and dental condition is needed and will be discussed at the treatment planning portion of your exam.
Partial dentures can also be supported by implants for greater retention; see the “Dental Implants” section for further details.