More than 36 million Americans are edentulous (meaning they have no teeth), and around 120 million people in the United States are missing at least 1 tooth. (1)
If your missing teeth, dentures may be an option to help fix this issue.
There are two types of dentures available – complete and partial.
- Complete dentures replace missing teeth in the upper or lower jaw in patients who have no remaining teeth.
- Partial dentures are built around existing natural teeth to replace missing ones.
They can either be permanently secured or placed onto a removeable piece.
Dentures are used to replace missing teeth, which can be caused by a number of issues that lead to tooth loss, such as: (2)
- Periodontal disease (gum disease)
- Tooth decay
- Traumatic injury
If missing teeth are not replaced, the remaining ones can shift, causing issues with biting and chewing. This can lead to issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and a saggy facial appearance that may make you look older than you really are. (3)
To determine if you are a candidate for dentures, it is necessary to visit your dentist for a complete examination of your gums and supporting bone structures.
Some patients need oral surgery to correct bony ridges to ensure the stability of their dentures. Others may need to have any remaining teeth extracted.
In some cases, the dentist may need to remove teeth; with this, they will provide immediate dentures to enable proper healing of the extraction sites and to serve as a replacement for the natural teeth. The healing process typically takes 6 to 12 months, during which the gums will shrink. (2)
Immediate dentures can be adjusted to changing ridge contours during healing until permanent dentures are made or the intermediate denture is relined for a better fit.
Once your dentist determines that dentures are the right option for you, an impression of your gums is made to create a stone model that guides the denture design.
In addition, they will use a shade and mold chart to select replacement teeth that best match your natural teeth, minimizing any significant changes to the look of your smile.
Adapting to your new dentures
It is normal to experience some discomfort after receiving your new dentures. At first, they may feel awkward in your mouth. Your cheeks, lips, and tongue are extremely sensitive tissues that need time to adjust, and it’s not uncommon to bite them in the first few weeks of wear. However, if you experience constant soreness and irritation, contact your dentist.
Learning to eat with your new dentures will also take practice. Begin by slowly chewing on small bits of soft food, using both sides of your mouth at the same time. Once you’re more comfortable, you can progress to larger pieces of food, and harder food as well.
You may find that talking while wearing your dentures may also require practice. Certain words may be difficult to pronounce, but that problem can often be overcome within a few weeks. It is suggested that you practice reading aloud to adjust more quickly.
Caring for dentures
It is extremely important to take good care of your mouth and dentures to prevent health complications. (1)
To stimulate the gums and remove plaque buildup, brush the gums, tongue, and palate using soft bristle brush. This should be done before the dentures are inserted and after they are removed.
You should remove your dentures at night before bed. This allows your gums to be moistened by saliva, which helps control naturally occurring bacteria and maintain a healthy mouth.
The dentures should be carefully brushed to remove any loose debris and plaque, then bathed in a nonabrasive cleansing solution recommended by your dentist.
An ultrasonic cleaner can be used as well, but keep in mind that it is not a substitute for brushing. Never place your dentures in hot or boiling water, as this could cause them to warp.
Replacing or Readjusting Dentures
Visit your dentist if your dentures do not fit well because of mouth irritation, or a crack, chip, or break.
Over time your gums and bone will continue to change throughout your life, which may result in poorly fitting or loose dentures.
Complete dentures should be remade, or at least relined, every 5 to 10 years. (3)
If you experience significant weight loss, you may find your dentures become loose.
With a variety of options at your disposal for replacing missing teeth, a determining factor may be cost. The price of dentures may be significantly less than the price of dental implants or bridges. Speak with your dentist about which option is best for you.
On average, a traditional set of full dentures costs approximately $1,800, but these prices will vary. (4)
- Low-cost dentures can range from $600 to $1,000 for a full set; these are generally made with lower quality materials and can look artificial.
- Mid-cost dentures can range from $1,000 to $3,000 for a full set; these are prepared differently than low-cost dentures, giving them a more natural look.
- Premium dentures can range from $4,000 to $8,000 for a full set; these are made with the best materials and are completely customized to give the most authentic look.
The cost of dentures fluctuates based on a variety of factors that are unique to each patient. In addition to the complexity of the treatment, some other factors affecting price include:
- Oral Health: If you have hygiene issues like decay or gum disease, you will need to undergo corrective treatment before dentures can be placed.
- Insurance Coverage: Be sure to check with your dental insurance provider about coverage for dentures. They may cover some, if not all of the cost.
- Dental Materials: Highly cross-linked polymer costs more than conventional plastic denture materials, and the addition of metals used in removable partial dentures can also impact the price.
- Oral Surgery: In order to prepare for your dental treatment, additional procedures may be required. These can include tooth extraction or refinement of bony ridges.
- Specialists: If a prosthodontist is involved in your treatment process, the cost of dentures will likely go up.
- Denture Warranty: Your denture warranty may range from a couple of years, up to a decade or more. A longer warranty may yield a higher cost.
Ready to take the next step?
Contact a dentist near you to setup a dentures consultation.
- American Dental Association. Denture Care and Maintenance. April 8, 2019. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/dentures
- Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/dentures
- Johnson J. American Dental Association Patient Smart. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Dentures.pdf
- How Much Do Dentures Cost? https://www.dentureliving.com/en-us/advice-tips/preparing-for-dentures/costs/how-much-do-dentures-cost