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Complete, Partial, and Implant-Supported Dentures

Chris Telden loves being creative. He maintains a number of health blogs.

Different types of false teeth

Different types of false teeth

Different Types of Dentures

When a person has lost a number of teeth, leading to problems chewing food or a desire for cosmetic improvement, the subject of dentures is bound to come up. Dentures, also known as false teeth, have an undeservedly bad reputation, considering how natural they look these days.

There are many different types of dentures to choose between, from partial to full or complete, and from porcelain to acrylic. And did you know that implant-supported dentures exist, as well as mini-dental implants, which are lower-cost options for attaching this type of false teeth? Learn all the types of dentures to help you be informed about your choices—and then consult a dentist to determine which is the best kind for you.

Dentures Today

Plastic dentures have come a long way. Though it's generally better to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible, sometimes dentures are the best option for your health. Modern dentures are more comfortable than they once were, as well as more natural looking.

Complete Dentures (Full Dentures)

"Full" or "complete" dentures are individually fitted fixtures that take the place of teeth by sitting over the gums. Over the course of several visits to the dentist, complete dentures are custom fitted to the mouth, so they rest directly on the gums, covering the upper jaw or lower jaw completely.

If all the natural teeth are missing, standard full dentures are used. If some teeth are still present in the mouth when a patient decides to get dentures, there are a couple of options:

  1. The patient might choose to have the teeth removed so that conventional dentures will fit directly onto the gum. During the healing period (which may be a couple of months), permanent standard dentures cannot be fitted, so "immediate dentures" are used as a temporary replacement for the missing teeth. An immediate denture may need adjustment as the gums shrink during the healing process. And in some patients, these temporary dentures serve as the final dentures.
  2. The patient might opt to be fitted for full dentures called "overdentures." This type of denture fits over the teeth or denture implants after the teeth have been shaped and root canals on them have been performed.

In some cases, complete dentures are fixed to the bone onto dental implants, and implant-supported dentures instead of conventional full dentures are used.

Complete dentures come in a variety of colors and designs from which the wearer can choose to get the best match for his or her teeth. The size of the denture teeth is also important, as it must be personalized to your jaw, mouth and bite.

There is a period of adjustment to the full dentures, during which time patients get used to eating and speaking with complete dentures instead of natural teeth.

Men and women with full dentures must take special care to brush their gums, tongue and roof of their mouth before inserting the dentures. This is not only to keep the area clean of plaque, but also to stimulate circulation within the tissues of the mouth.


Overdentures are a type of full denture. They are replacements for teeth that rest over any remaining natural teeth or implants, thus helping to save some of the bone in one's jaw. Their design has improved over the years, sometimes including CuSil, denture material made of silicone rubber, to help stabilize the overdenture.

False teeth in the form of overdentures can be fitted over any remaining natural teeth that have not decayed "too far" and need pulling. The teeth that are saved - usually canines and premolars - will have been filed and shaped, had root canals (the nerve root removed) and possibly covered with metal copings to protect them before the overdentures are fitted. If no metal is used on the tooth, fluoride drops may be needed to help stave off tooth decay.

The remaining healthy tooth stubs not only protect the connected facial bone from resorption (a type of decay) but also distribute pressure more evenly along the jaw and provide stability for the overdenture, particularly on the lower jaw. The "mouth feel" is said to be more natural than if all the teeth in the mouth are missing.

If fitting over implants, which are fake teeth that have been permanently inserted into the old tooth recesses in the gums to serve as structural roots for dentures or bridges, the overdentures either fasten onto the implant itself or onto small metal bars between them. These types of overdentures are called implant supported dentures. (See the section on dental implants for more detail.)

Dentures can restore confidence in your smile.

Dentures can restore confidence in your smile.

Denture Implants, Implant-Retained Dentures and Mini Implants

Implant-supported or implant-retained dentures are a kind of complete overdenture used in people who have no teeth—as long as the underlying bone is healthy. Implant-retained dentures provide extra stability, make speaking easier, make eating easier and are removable.

These dentures have a pink gum-colored acrylic base to which are attached acrylic or porcelain "teeth." The implants (usually at least two) are inserted into the bone at the front of the jaw and have attachments that affix to those of the overdenture. The dentist who performs the surgery is likely to be a prosthodontist.

Due to the additional stability they offer, implant retained dentures are more commonly used in the lower rather than upper jaw. This is because the denture that fits over the upper jaw suffers less from instability than does the lower jaw. Nevertheless, upper denture implants are sometimes used and can feel more natural than standard dentures.

When placed in the lower jaw for dentures, implants take at least five months to complete, and in the upper jaw, at least seven months. Until the overdenture is ready to be fitted, a temporary denture (immediate denture) is used in the mouth.

The basic types of dentures supported by implants include:

  • Those that attach to a metal retention bar, which is attached to implants that have been fixed into the jawbone—called bar-retained dentures. Replace the attachments once or twice a year as they wear. People who grind their teeth or clench their jaw frequently may need repairs or adjustments made to bar-retained dentures because of the way they are fixed in the mouth.
  • Those that attach to round studs on the implants—called ball-retained dentures.

Care for implant retained dentures by cleaning them twice daily and keeping excellent oral hygiene around the denture implants as well.

Note that the patient pays a price for the increased stability of denture implants. The cost of implants is not cheap. The implants alone can cost thousands of dollars each.

Mini-Dental Implants

Slim mini-dental implants, fashioned of titanium, are "less-fuss" fixtures for the lower jaw that are cheaper, quicker, require fewer overall dental procedures, and are not as prone to causing discomfort in the insertion process. They are a promising option for patients who have lost too much bone to be fitted with standard-sized implants. The lower cost of mini implants can make implant-supported dentures possible for those who cannot afford the more expensive option.

Removable Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are false teeth and gums kept together on a metal framework. Removable partial dentures in particular are partial dentures that can be removed easily from the mouth to facilitate oral hygiene. Removable partial dentures can make eating an easier proposition than before and are typically less expensive than full dentures.

Removable partial dentures are used when the patient keeps some or most of his or her natural teeth—generally, at least two teeth on each side of the top or bottom must be present.

If only a few teeth are missing—or even just one is missing—partial dentures can affix directly to the teeth "next door" to replace those that have been lost by means of discreet and invisible precision attachments. The neighboring natural teeth are usually fitted with crowns to facilitate this type of attachment.

A cheaper attachment option for removable partial dentures is basic metal clasps, which clasp onto nearby teeth that may need to be shaped for proper fitting.

Removable partial dentures have plastic teeth. The relatively cheap "flipper" denture uses acrylic, and was not designed as a permanent solution for tooth replacement, though some people use them for years.

The cast metal partial denture is another type of denture—it does not put pressure on the gums, which means greater comfort for the patient, particularly those suffering pain from temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).

A third type of partial is the flexible framework removable partial denture (one example is the ValPlast partial denture; another is the Flexite denture). This type uses ValPlast, a sturdy synthetic polymer that blends in realistically with the gums but can be prone to creating sore spots, or Flexite, which is more adjustable than the ValPlast denture and thus may be ultimately more comfortable.

The discomfort problem with the ValPlast denture can be overcome by another type of flexible framework denture, a combination denture that uses ValPlast clasps for aesthetic superiorty and a cast metal framework that does not rest on the gums.

Non-removable partial dentures - called fixed partial dentures - are known as permanent bridges. Bridges, which are made of porcelain and/or gold, cost more than removable partial dentures. Along with not being as "cheap," they generally have more aesthetic appeal. They do require the support of healthy teeth adjoining them.

After getting the final partial dentures and wearing them around the clock for a time, the dentures will be adjusted if necessary for comfort and then can usually be taken out at bedtime.


I used the following websites as sources to write this article. Both sites contain a wealth of helpful information for further reading.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Do You Have Dentures? What Type?

nancy james boyken. on March 26, 2018:

looking to buy cheep full set dentures , jw anyone no of any place that i can get cheep full set made or that takes discount copuons or will provixe free for some services around office inside and out side so he fired 60 , but holler at me on FBmessanger if yo do thanks

Lynn on August 08, 2017:

I have a full upper. They took impressions made the denture pulled the teeth and put denture in. Done. Now I need to have a set for the lower. Will it be compatible?

Pamela on June 28, 2017:

yes i have had these dentures for many years and throughout the years I would want to change get a new pair but lately I have been interested in implants and trying to get a workable plan if there is any. thank you for listening to me...38 years ago I surrendered my life to my LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH AND HE FORGAVE ME OF ALL MY SINS AND HE GAVE ME A REASON TO LIVE , but because of my lifestyle before (drugs, gang life, in and out of jail I messed my self up physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and so part of the repercussions of that partly is my teeth. I thank God for these that i have, however it is time for a change. IS there any workable plans with the implants at all ?

Thanks for allowing me to share a little yet a big part of my life with you.


Johnny Oliver on May 27, 2015:

I am prepareing for parcieals in the bottom and full dintures on top they are pulling the bad ones out as u said I'm anticipateing the removal of the top i am a choir director and cosmetologist so i may go in hideing for a while till it is done my jobs involve my mouth so it is very important that i am presentable other wise at age 63all those who become offended that know me did not care for me that much anyway i am more than a mouth full of teeth and Jesus loves me irregardless blessings to all. John Oliver

Bolivar Luperon from Atlanta, GA on July 26, 2013:

Nice work. I am glad you included a full ranges of possibilities, from fixed to removable. It really was informative. Thanks

Sean Butcher on March 22, 2011:

@Meshack. Yes, it depends on the condition of your teeth. You better ask two or more dentists if you really want to make sure and to help you decide. There are options that they'll be giving you after they examine your teeth. My dad got his full dentures four years ago when I accompanied him in one of the clinics in Myrtle Beach. Dentures are much cheaper than implants, that's for sure.

Chris, do you know where I can find some good reads about dentures cleaning? Thanks!

Justin Stewart on February 04, 2011:

I would also like to add 3D Dentures to this list - this is where 3 mouldings of the mouth are taken as opposed to 1 (as is the case with complete dentures) - this allows the side of the mouth to be moulded. This is a new technique, my clinic is the first in the UK to use it:

This technique offers the most comfortable dentures possible.

Chris Telden (author) from Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. on May 09, 2010:

Hi, meshack,

You'd have to talk to a dentist to get the answer, as my research indicates it depends on your teeth - not all options are the best for all mouths! :) Perhaps someone who's had a partial denture will comment here.

meshack on May 09, 2010:

which one is the best replacement when one want partial denture according to the cost, short procedure , and best fitting