Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Question and Answer About Partial Dentures

I just recently received a question online from the Q&A Panel at I thought that since this is a common problem, that I would share the question and answer here.

Here is the question:

"About two years ago I got an upper denture. The dentist left some top teeth in for support (I guess) of that denture. However, because of this, the denture extends out like an awning above my lower teeth, and looks terrible. All you see coming at you is big teeth on top. Now it doesn't even fit well, and I would like to get it re-done. I wonder if I should have those 5 remaining upper, natural teeth of mine removed before trying to re-do it? Is there really such a thing as a "natural" looking denture? Sometimes you can spot them a mile away, but on others you are surprised to find out they are wearing dentures. What makes the difference exactly in a natural look VS I'm wearing dentures and hate that you know. I can afford a "good" denture, but cannot afford implants unfortunately.
Thank you,
L. Burns

Here is my answer:

Hello L. Burns,

I'll answer as best I can with the information I have. Trying to assess a condition without actually seeing it is like diagnosing a car problem over the phone.

If the remaining teeth are in good shape, you certainly want to keep them. This will enable the preservation of bone and will certainly help keep the partial denture in place.

As far as the fit is concerned, over time, the bone and gums will resorb away from the denture. When this happens, there will be spaces between the denture and the soft tissue of the mouth making retention much more challenging. Either a new partial denture will need to be fabricated to fit better, or you can also reline the internal surface of the denture to improve the fit. In your case since you don't like the appearance, I suggest you get a new one so that you can have a more aesthetic prosthesis.

I certainly hate dentures that you can spot a mile away. I want things to look completely natural. When you get a new partial denture, have a discussion with your dentist on how you want them to look. This will eliminate the guesswork. The position, shape, color and overall aesthetics can be changed to get the look you're looking for.

Hope this helps!

Dr. Martin J. Cisneros

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit


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