A denture is a prosthetic designed to replace missing teeth and may be removable or fixed to existing teeth or implants. Complete dentures replace all the teeth on one or both arches and retention is obtained either by attachment to dental implants or the remaining soft tissue and bone ridge. Partial dentures fill in the gaps left by missing teeth and prevent the remaining teeth from moving. These dentures are retained in place by suction to the soft tissue or attachment to other teeth. Dentures help in the normal functions of chewing and speaking but also benefit the wearer by supporting facial muscles and enhancing the facial appearance.
Dentures are normally expected to last five to seven years. The fit of a denture will tend to diminish as gums shrink and bone is resorbed. In the short-term, a denture can be re-lined to compensate for these factors but eventually normal wear and tear will require replacement of the denture.
There are several options available when considering replacement of a denture. Implants offer the closest solution to replacing the original missing teeth and also give the most protection against further bone loss. In the case of complete dentures, implants can be used either to replace all the missing teeth or a denture can be used in conjunction with a number of anchoring implants that hold the denture in place. The benefit of an implant-anchored denture is that it provides a more stable solution than a denture alone and helps avoid the common problems of dentures not staying in place when eating or speaking.