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Everything you need to know about dentures

Dentures are a trusted and effective way to replace missing teeth. They are removable plastic or metal frameworks that carry single or multiple false teeth. If you choose to replace missing teeth with dentures, they will be custom made to fit the size and shape of your mouth, making them feel and look as natural as possible.

If you’d like to understand more about dentures and whether they’re suitable for your needs, get in touch with your local Bupa Dental Care practice they’ll be happy to advise you, and answer any questions.

What is the difference between full and partial dentures?

Depending on how many teeth you have missing, you may have a full or partial denture. You may also have a temporary partial denture while you’re waiting to have a bridge fitted.

A full denture is a removable acrylic base, or plate, which sits over the gums. On top of this sits a set of crafted acrylic teeth, which will be made to look as natural as possible. This replaces your original teeth.

A partial denture is attached to the teeth either side of the gap and replaces one or a few missing teeth. They are also used as an alternative to a bridge to fill gaps in your teeth. Partial dentures may have a base plate made of plastic or metal. Those made with metal are stronger and lighter, but are more expensive.

Image showing teeth on the upper jaw with dentures

What are the benefits of dentures?

If you have missing teeth it can affect the way you look and make your speech less clear, which may affect your confidence. Dentures can help you smile with confidence again, and they can improve your everyday life by helping you to eat more comfortably and speak more clearly.

Replacing missing teeth can also help to keep your remaining teeth healthy as any issues with the way you bite can be corrected, and gaps, which may lead to decay, are filled.

Dentures are also available on the NHS if it is considered clinically necessary to replace missing teeth. Bupa Dental Care can offer dentures through the NHS or privately, depending on your needs and availability.

Contact your local Bupa Dental Care practice and our friendly staff will be happy to discuss your options with you.

What are the downsides of having dentures?

It's important to have realistic expectations of dentures. Dentures are removable, they’re not a permanent, fixed solution to missing teeth. Getting used to them will take time, and they may feel a bit uncomfortable to start with. Your dentist may schedule a check-up appointment a week after fitting your new dentures to check the fit and make any necessary adjustments. Your dentures should start to feel more secure as you get used to them.

Generally, dentists advise against wearing dentures at night. But your dentist may suggest that you wear them night and day for the first week or two, to help you get used to them.

You may find some words difficult to pronounce at first, but this usually improves with time. Try reading out loud to practice.

It can take a while to get used to eating with new dentures, so it's best to start with soft food. Try to use both sides of your mouth at the same time. This will help to keep your dentures in place.

You need to look after and maintain your dentures. If not cared for, they can become brittle. As you age, your facial structure changes, which means you might need to have your dentures adjusted to fit properly. However, they should last between five to eight years, depending on how well they’re cared for.

What are the alternatives to dentures?

Alternatives to removable dentures include:

  • Bridges – false teeth that are fixed onto existing natural teeth
  • Dental implants – false teeth fitted on top of a titanium implant that is fixed directly into your jawbone

What’s best for you depends on the number of teeth you have missing. It also depends on which teeth are missing and the condition of your remaining teeth and gums.

Your dentist will help you decide which option is best for you. Dentures and bridges are generally available on the NHS (although you do have to pay a set fee) but dental implants usually aren’t.

Contact your local Bupa Dental Care practice to find out more about your options for replacing missing teeth.

How are dentures fitted?

Your denture will be designed just for you. Your dentist will take an impression of the area with dental putty before the denture is made to make sure it fits well. The impression and precise measurements of your mouth will be given to a dental technician, who will build your dentures to the correct size and shape to make them feel and look as natural as possible.

Before having your denture fitted, you may have more teeth removed. This might be to allow for a full set of dentures to be fitted or because your other teeth are already too decayed or loose to save. You may be able to have full dentures fitted straight afterwards or your dentist may recommend that your gums are left to heal for up to a couple of months. This might mean that the dentures fit better. If you have your dentures fitted straight away, they could need adjusting later to improve the fit. Your dentist will help you decide which option is best for you.

Keeping your dentures in place

Partial dentures often have clasps that clip on to the teeth next to your denture and help to keep it in place. Full upper dentures cover the roof of your mouth (palate). A very thin layer of saliva between your palate and the denture creates suction, which keeps it firmly in position. Your facial muscles and tongue also help to keep it in place. Full lower dentures are often more difficult to keep in place because there is less support from your gums. With a little practice, you will learn to balance the denture between your cheeks and tongue.

If you find your dentures slip at first when you laugh or cough, try biting down gently and swallowing and that should put them back in place.

You can use denture adhesive cream (fixative), although most people don’t need to. Some people find it helps with their confidence while they’re getting used to new dentures. It takes time to get used to wearing dentures. They’re not a permanent solution for missing teeth, dentures are removable and shouldn’t be worn at night. Poorly fitting dentures can make your mouth very sore, so if you are concerned about the fit, see your dentist.

Contact your nearest Bupa Dental Care practice to find out more about dentures and book an appointment.

Looking after your dentures and mouth

Your dentures should last several years if you look after them. Follow these tips to keep your dentures and your mouth fresh and healthy.

Dentures should last a long time if you look after them properly. But if they become worn or don’t fit properly, they can be irritating and uncomfortable. Ideally, you should have your dentures re-made before these problems arise. Visit your dentist regularly so they can advise you when it’s time to have new dentures fitted.

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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Healthcare Limited. Registered in England and Wales number: 03257078. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

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