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What Are Upper Dentures?

Dentures are prosthetic teeth worn by those who have lost their natural teeth.
Partial dentures.
Dental implants are the most natural, but most expensive, type of denture.
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  • Written By: Bill C.
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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Upper dentures are artificial teeth and gums, plus surrounding mouth tissue, that replace some or all of the top layer of natural teeth. Common types of upper dental plates include complete, partial, immediate, over-dentures, and implant-supported dentures. Dental implants in the upper jaw are sometimes also placed into the category of upper dentures.

Complete upper dentures replace all of the upper teeth after they have been extracted. Total upper plates usually consist of a pinkish acrylic base and either porcelain or acrylic artificial teeth. The denture unit presses directly on the upper gum and is supported by the underlying bone. Total upper plates are usually not fitted for use until gums have healed from extraction procedures. This type of denture can be removed at any time.

Partial upper dentures typically replace only some of the upper teeth. The artificial teeth are anchored with a clip, usually made of metal, that is attached to existing natural teeth. Upper partial plates are often called bridges. They can be either permanent or temporary.

Immediate upper dentures are dental plates that are put in place directly after the top teeth have been extracted. Such dentures typically have a relatively soft temporary lining that stays in place until the gums have healed. After the healing process, a firm lining replaces the soft lining, turning the immediate dentures into complete upper dentures.

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Over-dentures functioning as upper plates are held in place by one or more natural teeth. Otherwise, they are much like complete dentures, except that they are more stable because of the support of existing teeth. Complete plates stay in place by suction, which sometimes needs to be supplemented by some type of dental adhesive. Over-dentures usually cost more than complete dentures.

Implant-supported upper dentures can be either partial or complete. These types of dentures are much like over-dentures. The difference is that that they are supported by artificial rather than natural teeth. Individual artificial teeth are anchored directly into the upper jaw bone, typically with artificial metal roots, then the gums are allowed to heal and the teeth to strengthen.

When healing is complete, implant-supported dentures generally configure to the mouth much like natural teeth and enable more regular chewing and speaking than other dental plates. Such dentures usually require three or more teeth as anchors. Although dental professionals usually consider upper dental implants better in many ways than other types of upper dentures, this type is usually highly expensive.

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