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What are dentures?

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Dentures explained

Dr. Sarah explains everything you need to know
about dentures services at the dentist

Dentures, also commonly known as false teeth, are used to replace teeth that have been lost due to disease or trauma.  They are widely used throughout the world as the quickest and most cost-effective solution to restoring the chewing ability, jaw function, and cosmetic appearance of a smile.  Dentures are usually a removable device, however, modern dental advancements can now provide a fixed solution to dentures that can hold the denture securely in place permanently.  

How much do dentures cost?

The national average denture cost for a full upper acrylic denture or full lower acrylic denture, meaning you have no teeth remaining in that arch, is $1300.  Most practices discount the cost of an upper and lower acrylic denture if they are being made at the same time to an average of around $2400.

A partial denture, meaning you still have some of your own teeth remaining and just want to fill the gaps where teeth are missing will vary greatly depending on the number of teeth will be added onto the denture, the base material you want to use and the location of the practice or denture lab.

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Understanding your condition is the key to making the right choices for you


The time a denture lab takes to make a new denture will depend on a number of factors.  This will include the type of material being used, the number of components being added to help secure the denture in place, the number of teeth being added and the level of complexity in getting the right fit in your mouth.  

You can expect to visit the dentist or denture lab technician 2 – 5 times over the course of getting a new denture made.  Each appointment will only take around 15 – 20 minutes and allows the dentist or denture lab, technician, to review each stage of the denture in your mouth as it’s being designed and make any changes as needed along the way.

For a straight forward acrylic denture, it will take around 1 – 3 weeks to be made.  If your denture has a chrome cobalt frame design, this may add an additional 2 weeks to the overall process. 

Dentures are most commonly made out of human safe grade acrylic material, coloured to match your existing teeth and gums.  For a more comfortable fit, chrome cobalt can be used as the frame that sits across the roof of your mouth and along the gum line with acrylic teeth and gum attached.  To hold the denture in place, steel retainers and clasps are used which wrap around your existing teeth tightly.  Where possible, clasps and retainers are positioned out of sight when you smile. 

If dentures are well looked after, cleaned regularly with appropriate denture cleaning solution and are the right fit and material to withstand your unique bite, you can expect dentures to last around 8 – 12 years.  During that time your gums and bone might shrink causing the denture to become loose-fitting.  If the denture is still in a good working condition, the denture lab or dentist can offer a reline of the denture to return it to a snug and secure fit.  

Absolutely!  A daily soak for 10 minutes in a solution designed for dentures will ensure the longevity of your false teeth.  A soft bristle toothbrush with denture cleaning paste will remove stubborn stain and hard build-up from the denture. Avoid using toothpaste, bicarb soda or any other harsh brushes or paste that may scratch the denture surface causing it to stain more easily.  

During your regular dental check-ups, ask the dental practice to clean your dentures professionally to help remove heavy build-up of tartar and stain you have been unable to remove at home.  A denture lab will also offer a professional denture cleaning service for a small fee.

If you have a missing tooth, or a number of missing teeth, that make it difficult to chew your food, cause jaw pain from lack of support or is affecting the appearance of your smile and shape of your face, there might be another option to fill the gap.

  1. Porcelain bridge
  2. Maryland bridge
  3. Cantilever bridge
  4. Tooth Implant
  5. All on four
  6. Orthodontics

Book a consultation with an AirSmile dentist partner and have them assess your situation and offer their opinion on a solution that will suit your needs and budget.

In short, yes – if this method is what is considered to be the best course of action for your situation the dentist will arrange your sequence of appointments so that the denture is made first and ready to insert the day you have your teeth removal.  Often patients who are having teeth removed from the front of the mouth in the smile line will have the teeth removed and the denture inserted on the same day to avoid a period of having an unsightly gap and to help with chewing food. 

Having a denture placed the same day as a tooth extraction can also help to reduce the bleeding and swelling in the area as it provides constant firm pressure over the open socket, and as healing occurs, the gum will mould to the inside of the denture to assist in a firmer fit for a period of time.  

Although issuing dentures on the same day as having teeth removed makes sense from a cosmetic appearance and healing point of view, it does come with a few downsides.  Because dentures are made prior to the teeth being extracted the dentist and denture lab technician will not be able to custom fit the denture perfectly to the unique shape of your gum and mouth.  This means there is a bit of guesswork going on as they work with you to get as good a fit as possible while the teeth are still in place.  Fortunately in today’s dental world dentists and technicians are extremely adverse at making dentures that fit well and look natural while the teeth are still present, however, you must be prepared that if you decide to have a denture inserted the day you have your teeth removed you may need to have a reline of the denture a few months later once the gum and swelling have settled so that the fit can match your mouth more accurately.  

Dentures are designed to give you back your chewing ability when teeth have been lost, particularly in the back of the mouth.  Dentures also help you regain a full and confident smile when teeth are missing towards the front of the mouth.  

If a patient chooses to forgo having dentures or replacing the gap with another solution such as a dental implant or dental bridge after losing a tooth, in time it could lead to other areas of the mouth and jaw being affected.

Patients with missing teeth often present with some of the following conditions as a result of not having a full set of teeth to chew with;

  • Jaw pain and TMJ deterioration 
  • Additional wear on remaining teeth
  • Cracks and breaks in remaining teeth from the extra load
  • Sunken cheeks 
  • Fallen in lips
  • Wrinkles around the lips from lack of support
  • Change in speech/difficulty in pronouncing certain words 
  • Digestion issues from not chewing foods properly 
  • Food traps
  • Existing teeth begin to move causing further problems with chewing, speaking and change in the overall function of the mouth 
  • Self-esteem is often affected and a person’s confidence in social situations is commonly seen

Although dentures are recommended to give you back your ability to chew, unfortunately, they are not able to provide the same chewing quality as a full set of your own teeth.  What you can eat once you have denture will depend on the type of material used to construct the denture, the quality and shape of the design and how many teeth the denture is supporting.  For most patients, once the gum settles from any teeth that had to be extracted prior to the denture going in, and after the new denture has gone through a wearing in period (think of it like getting a new pair of shoes) you should be able to eat most foods the average person consumes in a normal healthy diet such as chicken, meat, fruit, vegetables, crackers and snacks.

Foods which are often difficult to consume with denture are:

  • Red meat 
  • Nuts
  • Apples
  • Raw carrots
  • Sticky foods/lollies
  • Fruits with seeds
  • Sandwiches 

The reason these foods are often most difficult to eat when you have dentures is that they can easily pull the denture out of place.  Dentures rely on either a suction force to the roof of the mouth and/or multiple clasps in order to stay in place.  Hard, tough and sticky foods tend to dislodge and move the denture out of place and are therefore avoided.  

The second comment denture wearers often have is with regards to the type of diet they must consume to avoid food particles becoming trapped underneath and around the denture.  Food debris can cause all sorts of problems such as a bad taste, bad breath, sores from food rubbing, food trapped between the false teeth or a rash or soft tissue infection.  Taking the denture out and rinsing after every meal is the key to keeping your mouth healthy and denture clear of foreign objects.  Over time, denture wearers learn which foods they can and can’t eat to ensure their denture is clean and stays firmly in place.

This is entirely up to the individual and what is comfortable for them.  There might be situations where a dentist recommends that the denture is taken out at night.  This could be due to the size of the denture as it might be seen as a choking hazard if it’s small enough to be inhaled while you sleep, or it could be that the gum and soft tissue need time to breath as an infection is starting to develop from the denture being worn to often.

For the best health and longevity of your new denture, it is best to consult with your dentist for advice on whether or not you should wear your denture while you sleep.

It is not advised to repair your own dentures without the use of proper dental material and equipment.  Using standard superglue or adhesive not safe for human consumption could make you incredibly sick and make your denture unwearable and unable to be fixed when you do manage to get in to see a dentist or denture lab technician.  

If you chip a small piece off the denture and it is rough to your tongue or cheek you could use a nail file to smooth off the area while you wait for a dental appointment.  This would be the only time a dental professional might suggest you perform some DIY repairs on your denture at home.  Otherwise, it is best to leave any denture repairs up to the professionals who have the know-how and equipment to do the job right. 

Absolutely!  Dentists don’t just take care of your teeth, they also look after the health of your gum, soft tissue, jaw and every other lump and bump in your mouth.  Those with no teeth and a set of dentures can still experience dental emergencies and dental pain if they avoid the dentist for too long.  For those with a full set of dentures (no natural teeth left) should visit at least once a year.  The dentist will examine the denture – looking for any cracks, chips or broken down areas, as well as give them a professional clean and polish to remove any hard build-up and stain.  

The dentist will also do a comprehensive head and neck exam and soft tissue screening to look for any early signs of oral cancer or soft tissue disease.

It is important to understand that having dentures does not exclude you from visiting the dentist for the rest of your life.  It is just as vital to maintaining regular visits as if you had all of your own teeth.


Dentures must be custom-made by a dentist or dental lab technician known as a prosthodontist to ensure a comfortable and secure fit, as well as looking natural and suited to the individual’s facial features.  Although nothing can compare to having your own natural dentition, dentures are a great solution to replacing a single missing tooth, several teeth, or an entire upper or lower arch of teeth.  

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