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Alan L. Stott, DDS


Elderly couple on palm leaves backgroundWhat is a denture?

A denture is an appliance used to replace missing teeth in the mouth. A denture is made of pink colored plastic which is used to replace missing gum tissue, and plastic or porcelain teeth to replace the missing teeth. A denture is a removable appliance, meaning you do not put it in place and leave it forever. It will be taken in and out as needed to clean it and let the tissues rest (especially at night).

What are the different types of denture?

There are basically two types of dentures- full dentures or partial dentures. Partial dentures are often called just “partials”. The full denture replaces all the teeth in one arch (top jaw or bottom jaw), and the partial denture replaces several but not all the teeth in one arch. The partial denture uses the remaining teeth as anchors.

When would you choose a partial denture over a full denture?

It is always much better to save as many teeth as we can. If a patient has some good solid teeth remaining, we can use a partial denture which has some arms or clasps that can grab on to the teeth for support and retention. These clasps give a lot of stability to the partial denture and keeps the partial from coming out too easily. A full denture does not have any of these clasps and must rely on suction to keep it in place.

When would you choose a full denture over a partial denture?

There are a few reasons I see where people may want a full denture over a partial denture. If the remaining teeth have a poor prognosis (they can’t be saved) it may be best to take all the teeth out. The full denture may look nicer since it does not have any clasps showing and all the teeth look uniform and perfect. The patient also may be tired of fixing and maintaining the remaining teeth and want to go with a full denture. If we have some teeth that have good bone support and can be saved, I always prefer the partial denture, as it will not pop out like a full denture can.

When would you choose a denture over saving some of your teeth?

Mostly never. If I can save all the teeth, I know that my patient will be happier with their appearance, chewing ability, and comfort. If I can save some of the teeth and go with a partial denture, that is still better than a full denture. A full denture is the best option when a patient has a lot of badly broken-down teeth and bone loss, and due to finances, needs the least expensive treatment option.

What are the options when we have a missing tooth? What are the pros and cons of the options?

There are four options:

1) You can leave the space alone. The pros are this is the simplest and least expensive option (basically no additional cost after the extraction). The cons are it may make it harder to chew food and the teeth on the sides and above the space may start drifting into the space.

2) You can have a bridge. The pros are that the making of a dental bridge will take about two weeks and it is about in the middle as far as price. The cons are that you may have to grind on the adjacent teeth that may not really need dental crowns. If these teeth are in need of dental crowns, the dental bridge option is an easier one to make. Approximate cost: about $3000-$6000, depending on the number of teeth replaced.

3) You can have a partial denture made. The pros are that this is relatively inexpensive and is quick to make. The cons are a partial denture may feel bulky to the patient, may have metal clasps that show, and may trap food more than the bridge option. Approximate cost: about $1500-$2200.

4) You can place a dental implant. The pros are the dentist does not have to grind on the adjacent teeth like with a dental bridge and it will not feel bulky like a partial denture. The cons are that it is the most expensive option per tooth and it may take about 8-9 months to complete due to the need for bone grafting, the need for the jaw bone to fuse to the implant, and the time needed to fabricate the final dental crown. Approximate cost for a single implant: about $4500-$5200.

I am going to not worry about my teeth, and when they get really bad, I will have them all taken out and go with all implants. Is this a good option?

Taking care of and saving your natural teeth is the best option. If you plan to have all your teeth removed and have all implants placed, you will need two main things: a lot of bone into which the implants are placed and a lot of money. If a patient has a lot of gum disease when he or she has all the teeth taken out, often there is a lot of bone loss. As such, there may not be enough bone left for implant placement. Full mouth implants may cost you around $50,000 to $75,000. For comparison, if you have all your teeth removed and go with a set of full dentures top and bottom, the total cost including extractions may be about $8000-$10,000. Come in for a consultation to review the options.

What can I do with loose dentures?

You can use denture adhesives and you can have the dentures relined. You can have new dentures made that may have a tighter fit to the remaining ridges in the mouth. You can also have some implants placed and have the dentures attached to the implants. This is called an implant overdenture.

Tell me more about the use of implants with a denture (implant overdenture).

If you have a full denture and the ridge under the denture has the proper thickness of bone, we can place two to six implants and attach your denture to these implants. This will not be as stable as your natural teeth or a full set of implants, but these two to six implants can give you a lot of stability and retention. The worst thing about a denture that does not have a good ridge to support it that the denture keeps moving up or down and not staying in place. Attaching the denture to some implants makes a big difference. The cost of doing this will be a few thousand dollars and will depend on how many implants are placed. Come in for a consult and we can give you some options.

What are some of the problems with dentures compared to saving your natural teeth?

Dentures have about one-sixth of the chewing power of natural teeth. It is much better to have natural teeth to chew with. It is much better to have a partial denture that grabs onto the remaining teeth compared to a full denture that relies on suction to stay in. Dentures can move causing sore spots on the soft tissue or gums. These tissues were not designed to have a denture hit against them. Food often gets caught under the denture requiring frequent cleaning of the denture. Dentures often feel bulky and thick. Some people have trouble speaking with them and they can often affect taste. Dentures can come loose, often at the wrong moment. Dentures can break and require repair and maintenance. If a patient does not have a backup denture, he/she will have to wait several hours while the denture lab makes the needed repair. Dentures will become loose with time. The teeth in the bone stimulates the bone to stay there. Once teeth are gone, that stimulation is gone, and the bone starts to resorb. Over the years, the ridge where the teeth were shrinks, and the denture becomes looser.

If I want to go with dentures, do I have to have a full top denture and a full bottom denture?

No. Often we have a full denture on one arch and partial denture with some remaining teeth on the other arch. The bottom full denture is worse than the top full denture due to the bottom denture not getting good suction for retention. This is due to the tongue. If a patient has limited finances and would like to save some teeth, I often recommend a full top denture and a bottom partial denture.  

Which costs more, a full or partial denture?

To find the total cost for making a denture, we need to figure out the cost of every dental procedure needed for the full or partial denture. If teeth need to be extracted, that will cost more. If we need to place a temporary denture after the extractions and before the final denture is made, that will be an additional fee. If we are trying to save some teeth and we need to do gum treatment and rebuild teeth, that will cost more. If we need to use special attachments, that will have an additional cost. When making a denture, we can use basic materials which are not as strong and do not look as nice, or we can go with upgraded materials, which look better and are stronger. The upgraded materials have an additional cost. The dentist can give you a list of charges for the options you prefer.

What is the cost for just a full or partial denture?

If we are talking about just a denture and no additional procedures, the partial denture usually costs more due to metal placed inside for strength and the clasps used to grab the teeth for retention. One full denture, depending on if it is basic or upgraded, may cost  $1000 to $2300. A partial denture, depending on if it is basic or upgraded, may cost $1400 to $2600. It is always cheaper to use an in-network insurance provider if you have a PPO plan. We are in-network providers for most insurance plans like Delta Dental, Cigna, Metlife, and Aetna.

Why don’t I just go with the cheapest denture price I can find?

That is always your option, but just like any other service, you often get what you pay for. Denture fees are based on the skill and time used by the dentist and the cost of quality materials and lab work. Quality work cannot be done cheaply. I see many patients who come in with cheaply made dentures. They look terrible and have a bad fit. One of the first things I want to do when I see a patient for a denture consult is see if there are some teeth we can save. To save some teeth will cost more money. But if I can save some teeth and attach a partial denture on to those teeth, I know my patient is going to be much happier.

If I have all my teeth removed, can I have something to replace them on that day? I don’t want to be seen with no teeth.

We can make what we call an immediate denture. We see you a few days before the extraction appointment and take an impression of your mouth to make an immediate denture, meaning the denture will be placed immediately after the teeth are removed. This is often a temporary denture. After the extractions, the tissue will be healing and shrinking. We place a temporary denture which we reline with a soft material while the tissues are healing and changing. Once the tissues have healed and are stable, we can make a final denture.

I like the idea of a partial denture to replace the teeth I have missing. I don’t want any metal to show with the partial denture. What can be done?

Partial dentures often have metal arms or clasps used to grab on to the remaining teeth for retention. If possible, we try to place the metal arms where they are not visible. If we have to place an arm toward the front of the mouth where it might show, we can go with a flexible plastic arm which is gum colored. The other options include going with special attachments to the teeth or to implants, which will not show metal.

Can I have a completely metal free partial denture?

Yes. We can make what is called a flexible partial or Valplast partial. This partial denture has no metal parts. The problem is that without metal parts, it does not have very strong support on the teeth and it often creates sore spots on the gums. Valplast partial dentures are also hard to adjust and reline for a tighter fit. Sometimes we can go with a combination partial that has some metal parts for support but also has some Valplast gum colored arms for better esthetics. Call us for details.

How long will it take to repair a denture?

If we just need to tighten the fit of the denture, we can often do that quickly in the office. To make a denture tighter to the tissues, we can reline the inside of the denture with more plastic material. If a tooth is lost, we can see you in the morning around 9 am to get your denture, send it to the lab, and have it back to you by 4 pm that same day. If it is a complex repair, it may take a few days. We recommend that patients have a back-up denture ready just in case their main denture will be in the lab for a few days. A back-up denture is good to have if something happens to the main denture while away on vacation or a business trip.

Who can I see for teeth extractions, full dentures, partial dentures, implant supported dentures, denture relines, or denture repairs?

Give us a call. We can do those things. We work with excellent denture labs that do high quality work. We will present to you all the options and the costs before planning any treatment. We are also an in-network provider for most insurance PPO plans, meaning we can save you money. We have an in-house dental savings plan for those without insurance. We accept the major credit cards and CareCredit.

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