If you lose one or more teeth due to gum disease or tooth decay, you can replace these teeth with partial or complete dentures. Dentures are removable false teeth that look like natural teeth.
After a dentist extracts your teeth, it can take several months to fabricate or make your custom permanent dentures. In the meantime, you can choose to wear immediate or temporary dentures.
Here’s what you need to know about temporary dentures, including the pros and cons, and whether you’re a good candidate for this kind of false teeth.
The primary difference between an immediate denture and a conventional, or permanent, denture is that the former is temporary. Immediate dentures aren’t custom-fitted to the mouth like permanent dentures, so they don’t always fit properly.
Immediate dentures are dentures placed in your mouth on the same day that your dentist extracts your teeth. You’ll wear these for the first several months after extraction. This way, you’ll have teeth while awaiting the arrival of your permanent dentures.
Immediate dentures also protect your gum tissue as your mouth heals from the extraction.
If your dentist suggests immediate dentures, it’s important to understand the pros and cons so that you know what to expect.
Pros of immediate dentures
- They immediately fill gaps in your mouth after a tooth extraction, or after a full-mouth extraction.
- They protect your gums during the healing process, and help to minimize gum bleeding.
- You receive immediate dentures on the same day as your extraction.
Cons of immediate dentures
- They aren’t custom-made to your mouth, so the fit isn’t as ideal as permanent dentures, and they may slip or move a bit.
- You may need to have your immediate dentures periodically adjusted or relined for comfort. “Relined” means adding extra material to the denture to account for changes in your mouth due to healing.
- You might experience soreness or irritation as your mouth adjusts to the dentures.
- You’ll need to wear them for about 4 to 6 months, until your permanent dentures arrive.
- They don’t always feel like natural teeth. Also, they’re not as sharp as permanent dentures. This makes chewing a little harder for some people.
- You may experience jaw bone shrinkage after an extraction, so your dentist will have to periodically adjust or realign your immediate dentures for comfort.
- You can’t try them on before a tooth extraction.
To be clear, you don’t “have” to get an immediate denture.
If you’re only losing one tooth or a few teeth (on the sides of your mouth), these missing teeth might be unnoticeable. For this reason, the decision to get an immediate denture is often one of personal choice based on the cost of treatment and the pros and cons.
However, your dentist will likely suggest immediate dentures with a full mouth extraction.
Keep in mind, too, that immediate dentures can trigger gag reflexes in some people. Because these dentures aren’t custom-fitted to your mouth like conventional dentures, they can move around easily and touch the back of your mouth, thus triggering this reflex.
If you have a strong gag reflex, you might skip an immediate denture and wait for your permanent dentures, which will have a better fit.
The process of getting immediate dentures involves several trips to the dentist. During your initial appointment, your dentist will measure your upper and lower jaw, and note the shape and color of your natural teeth.
Time frame and process for partial dentures
If you’re only losing a few teeth and getting a partial denture, your dentist will record your bite at your first appointment. This involves taking an impression (or hard imprint) of your teeth. They’ll use this impression to order an immediate partial denture.
When your immediate partial denture is ready, you’ll return to your dentist’s office to have your teeth extracted and your immediate denture placed and fitted.
Time frame and process for complete dentures
If all your teeth are to be extracted, you’ll need a complete denture. Your dentist will typically extract your posterior (back) teeth first. The extraction area will then be allowed to heal for approximately 4 to 8 weeks.
After the area has healed, your dentist will make an impression of your mouth and order an immediate denture from that impression.
When your immediate dentures arrive, you’ll then schedule an appointment to have your remaining anterior (front) teeth extracted. After the extraction, your dentist will place your immediate dentures in your mouth and adjust them to fit.
You’ll need to wear your immediate dentures for about 24 hours after surgery before removing them. Be prepared to have regular follow up visits with your dentist to refit your immediate dentures. Their fit can change as your mouth heals.
Time frame and process for permanent dentures
You’ll need to give your mouth time to heal before your dentist can start the process of fabricating your permanent dentures. Healing time can take between 3 to 6 months.
After your mouth has fully healed, your dentist will take several bite impressions of your jaw and mouth. The dentist will use these impressions to create a denture that’s custom-molded to the exact shape of your mouth, for a more precise fit.
Immediate dentures are designed to be temporary, only worn for about 6 to 8 months until the arrival of a permanent denture. Since these aren’t custom-fitted to the mouth, they can slip and move, so many people don’t wear them for an extended period of time.
Your immediate dentures will also need to be periodically adjusted and “relined” (adding material to the inside of your denture) as your mouth heals and the swelling subsides.
Even so, immediate dentures can last as long as conventional or permanent dentures. In fact, some people choose to wear immediate dentures long-term and skip buying permanent ones to save money.
Others will even keep their immediate dentures as a backup, in case they lose or damage their permanent dentures.
But if you choose to wear an immediate denture permanently, they’ll require frequent alignments and adjustments to ensure a proper fit.
Immediate dentures are comparable in price to permanent dentures. However, it’s worth noting that the cost really depends on where you live and the type of materials used.
Some premium dentures use metal or mesh liners, which can range from $2,000 to $4,000 per plate. This means that a full set of upper and lower dentures may range between $4,000 and $8,000 in price.
A very basic (non-premium) single plate could range from $600 to $1,000, or $1,200 to $2,000 for a full set.
The price also varies depending on your dentist and how much your dental plan covers (if you have one).
Be sure to talk with your dentist about your options at your initial appointment. Ask to see before and after pictures of their work.
In addition, you can ask friends and family for recommendations, and read online patient reviews. It’s important to choose a dentist who has extensive experience working with denture patients.
How to afford dentures
Although dental insurance can help pay for immediate dentures, you’ll likely have some out-of-pocket costs.
If you don’t have dental insurance, see if your dentist will negotiate a cash discount. Some offices might even offer low-interest or 0 percent financing on denture procedures.
You can also contact dental schools and organizations to find low-cost, quality dentures. Here are some you can look into to:
Gum disease or severe tooth decay can result in missing teeth. Your dentist might also have to remove some — or all — of your teeth in some cases.
Whether you need partial dentures or complete dentures, the process from start to finish can take several months.
Getting immediate dentures right after an extraction ensures you don’t go too long without teeth, which can protect your gums and boost your confidence.