March 28th, 2018
The adult mouth is meant to house 32 teeth, or 28 teeth if you’ve had all four wisdom teeth removed. However, most adults have fewer teeth in their mouth due to tooth loss. According to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a larger percentage of people are missing teeth than you may imagine:
Average Remaining Teeth
Age 20-34 – 26.9 teeth
Age 35-49 – 25.05 teeth
Age 50-64 – 22.3 teeth
Age 65 to 74 – 19.34 teeth
Age 75 and up – 18.36 teeth
Percent Who Have Total Tooth Loss
Age 20-34 – insufficient data
Age 35-49 – 2.63 percent
Age 50-64 – 10.13 percent
Age 65 to 74 – 23.93 percent
Age 75 and up – 31.30 percent1,2
As you can see, tooth loss is common among all age groups, especially as age increases. If you are experiencing tooth loss, a full or partial denture may improve the aesthetics of your smile and the function of your teeth, mouth and jaw.
Full Dentures: The Basics
Full dentures act as a replacement for a full set of teeth. They can replace the top or bottom row of teeth or all the teeth in your mouth. In order for them to work, any remaining healthy teeth must be pulled so the dentures can fit on top of the gums. Because of this, full dentures are recommended for people who are missing most or all of their teeth.
Full dentures can be made from a variety of materials, including acrylic resin, nylon polymer and metal, and occasionally porcelain for more realistic-looking prosthetic teeth. The top set will cover the entire roof of your mouth, but the bottom set will allow the tongue to move freely for easy speech and eating. Your prosthodontist will take special care to make the teeth look as realistic as possible, and the base is pink-colored to match your natural gums so your dentures remain inconspicuous.
Types of Full Dentures
There are two types of full dentures that you may choose from, and each serves a vastly different purpose.
These dentures typically last from five to eight years and are created with the intention of long-term use. Before the dentures can be worn, any remaining teeth must be pulled and the gums given time to heal. The healing process can take several months. After healing is complete, your prosthodontist will take molds of your mouth and begin crafting a full denture, taking appearance, fit and function into account.
As their name suggests, immediate dentures can be put in the mouth immediately after your remaining teeth have been removed. Many people take advantage of this option because they do not want to go without teeth during the healing process, whether for aesthetic or functional reasons. However, these dentures cannot be used long-term and may need to be adjusted. As your gums heal, they shrink and change shape, meaning immediate dentures that fit well now will be the wrong size for your mouth over the course of the next several weeks or months.
Partial Dentures: The Basics
Partial dentures are used in instances where a patient is missing a section of teeth but still has healthy teeth around the gap. While some may view partial dentures as a purely cosmetic alteration, these dentures also distribute jaw pressure to prevent the premature loss of additional teeth, stop teeth from shifting and reduce the chance of gum disease due to improper cleaning.
There is great variety in the types of partial dentures you can choose. Some stay put with metal clasps that hook around your healthy teeth; however, these can sometimes show. Other partial dentures are mounted more securely with precision attachments that allow the denture to snap into place. This method also has a downside, as many prosthodontists recommend putting a crown on otherwise healthy teeth so the precision attachments are sturdier.
Types of Partial Dentures
The type of partial denture you choose will likely depend on what you can afford, how natural you want your dentures to look and which fit is most comfortable for you.
Fixed Partial Dentures
When people use the term “fixed partial dentures,” they are actually referring to a fixed bridge or a dental implant bridge. A fixed bridge is a connected set of prosthetic teeth that slips over two filed down abutment teeth on either side of the tooth gap. These abutment teeth support the bridge, which rests on the gums. With a dental implant bridge, the prosthetic teeth slip over two implants instead of two natural teeth. These implants are surgically inserted in the jawbone to keep the bridge anchored more firmly.
Removable Partial Dentures
When most people talk about “partial dentures,” they are referring to removable dentures that can be taken out by the patient for regular cleaning after meals and at night. You don’t need any special tools to remove these dentures; simply slip them out using your fingers. There are a few options available to suit people at every price point.
Also called acrylic removable partial dentures, dental flippers function much like a regular retainer with sets of prosthetic teeth and gums attached. Typically, the teeth are connected to a metal framework that can be popped in and out of your mouth with ease, and like conventional dentures, flippers can have metal clasps that hook around nearby teeth. They are by far the most affordable partial denture option out there, generally costing only 300 to 500 dollars.3 While most people use dental flippers temporarily while waiting for their mouth to heal after an injury or surgery, especially in the case of a missing front tooth, some prefer to use them forever because of their lightweight feel and low cost. However, flippers can be thinner and more fragile than other partial dentures.
Flexible Partial Denture
Unlike other versions, flexible partial dentures don’t contain any metal. Instead, they are made of a thin thermoplastic nylon resin, as opposed to more rigid acrylic. Some patients feel they blend in more seamlessly with natural teeth for an unaltered-looking smile.
Cast-Metal Partial Denture
A cast-metal partial denture is a more permanent solution and can replace more teeth than a flipper. These dentures tend to have a larger metallic base as well. They will typically take longer to make than a flipper so they fit more comfortably in your mouth.
Receive Quality Dentures From Family Dental Associates in Georgia
If you feel you would be a good candidate for full or partial dentures, the highly qualified dental professionals at Family Dental Associates can help! Our team has been serving Warner Robins, Georgia for more than 60 years. We prioritize patient comfort during every visit, so you can be sure we’ll find a dental solution that’s right for you.
All our patients also have access to an in-house Dental Savings Plan starting at just $299. Under this plan, you get two standard exams and cleanings per year completely free as well as discounts on many other dental services, including cosmetic procedures like dentures. Check our Dental Savings Plan page for more details.
To schedule your first appointment, call us at (478) 971-7701 today!