Dentures: What Are They Made Of & What Do They Look Like?


When it comes to replacing missing teeth, dentures are one of the most popular and cost-effective artificial teeth solutions around. From your grandma’s secret nightly ritual to the latest dental technology, conventional dentures have been helping people chew, speak, and smile (did you know they support the structure of your facial muscles?) with confidence for years.

But what are dentures, and what are they made of? Here, we dive into the specifics, covering everything from how they work to why good oral hygiene is crucial for denture care.

A Guide to Different Types of Dentures

Traditional Dentures

Traditional dentures are the ones most people are familiar with. These removable dentures are a complete sets of false teeth set in an acrylic base designed to look like the soft tissue of your gums. These are ideal for those who have lost all their natural teeth.

  • How They Work: Traditional dentures sit directly on your gums and are held in place through natural suction and a denture adhesive.
  • Pros and Cons: They are relatively cost-effective and easy to adjust or repair. On the downside, they can take some getting used to and might slip out of place without proper fitting or adhesive.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are designed for people who still have some natural teeth remaining. These removable appliances latch onto existing teeth to fill in the spaces left by missing teeth.

  • How They Work: These dentures use metal or acrylic clasps that grip onto your natural teeth for stability.
  • Pros and Cons: They are a versatile solution that helps in preventing existing teeth from drifting out of place. But they also require rigorous cleaning to ensure food particles don’t get stuck in them, and the clasps might be visible when you speak or smile.

Temporary Dentures

As the name suggests, temporary dentures are used as a short-term solution while you’re waiting for permanent dentures or dental implants, which are a popular alternative to dentures.

  • How They Work: They are typically put in place immediately after tooth extraction and are worn until the gums and jaw have healed enough for a more long-term solution.
  • Pros and Cons: The benefit is that you won’t be left without teeth during the healing process. The drawback is that they may require frequent adjustments as your gum tissue and jaw heal and change shape.

Implant-Retained Dentures

These are fairly new options when it comes to denture technology. Implant-retained dentures (also sometimes called implant-supported dentures) are an alternative to conventional dentures that are anchored to dental implants inserted into your jawbone, offering a stable and secure fit.

  • How They Work: Dental implants are inserted into the jawbone, and the denture is snapped onto these implants. This means there’s no need for denture adhesive or worry about slipping with these well-fitting dentures.
  • Pros and Cons: They offer unparalleled comfort and security but come at a higher cost. They also require sufficient jaw bone density to hold the implants.

What Are Dentures Made Of?

Option 1: Acrylic Teeth

Acrylic teeth are one of the most common components you’ll encounter. Acrylic is a type of plastic that’s known for its durability and ease of modification. The acrylic material is generally lighter than porcelain, which makes the dentures easier to wear and adjust to.

Acrylic teeth are resilient to daily wear and tear. Their resistance to breakage is a big plus for those worried about accidental drops. Usually, acrylic dentures are more budget-friendly, which can be an important factor for many people.

Option 2: Porcelain Teeth

Porcelain has been used for dental prosthetics for a long time, and for good reason. The translucent properties of porcelain mimic the look of natural teeth exceptionally well. Porcelain teeth are strong and can withstand a lot of chewing and grinding. They also wear down at a rate similar to natural teeth.

What Do Dentures Look Like?

If you’re imagining the blocky, one-size-fits-all false teeth your grandma used to wear, think again. Modern dentures come in various forms to suit your specific needs, and they look more natural than ever.

Dentures are designed to closely resemble natural teeth and gums, aiming for a look that is as authentic as possible. The teeth portion is usually made from acrylic or porcelain and crafted to match the size, shape, and color of natural teeth. The base, intended to mimic gum tissues, is generally made from a pink, gum-colored acrylic material.

How Do Dentures Work & How Are They Made?

How Dentures Work

Functionally, dentures have evolved to be highly efficient in mimicking the role of natural teeth. Whether it’s biting into a juicy apple or speaking in public, good dentures can be almost indistinguishable from real teeth in function.

  • Upper Dentures: These have a larger plate that covers the roof of your mouth, creating a suction effect. The suction keeps them firmly in place, allowing you to go about your day with confidence.
  • Lower Dentures: These are a bit trickier because they have to accommodate your tongue and the movement of the lower jaw. They’re typically U-shaped and rely more on the contours of your jawbone and gums for stability.

How Dentures Are Made

  1. Initial Consultation and Examination: Your dentist will evaluate your oral health and discuss your needs. This is where decisions about material and type of denture are typically made.
  2. Dental Impressions and Molds: Your dentist takes impressions of your mouth to craft a model. These molds help in designing dentures that are unique to your oral structure.
  3. Trial Fittings: A mock-up of your future dentures is made. This allows you and your dentist to make any adjustments in size, shape, and color before the final product is crafted.
  4. Crafting the Final Product: Once everything looks good, the lab technicians in the dental laboratory get to work on your final denture. The chosen teeth are fixed onto the base, and any final touches are made.
  5. Final Adjustments: After the dentures are ready, a series of fittings ensure that they fit like a glove. You may need to come back for minor adjustments as you get used to them.

Are You Considering Dentures?

Dentures offer a fantastic solution for missing teeth, boosting both your appearance and functionality. Understanding denture materials, what they look like, and how they work can make the journey towards obtaining them a lot smoother. Whether you need complete dentures to replace all your missing teeth, partial dentures to replace a few missing teeth, or you’re looking for a more modern dental appliance like implant-supported dentures, we can help!

Ready for that winning smile? Contact Legacy Dentistry of Virginia today to explore your options for artificial teeth.

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