Missing Teeth: Dentures

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million Americans are missing even more teeth. And as we age, the problem only worsens. In fact, 30 percent of adults between 65-74 years old have no natural teeth. The good news? In 2022, options abound. In this blog post, we’ll examine three solutions, while focusing this week on dentures. Check back over the next two weeks, when we will cover two other ways to handle missing teeth (bridges and implants.)  


Dentists often replace a missing tooth with a non-removable solution such as a bridge or a dental implant. Today, most dental health professionals believe a dental implant to be the best solution. Implants are predictable and offer a long-term solution, which does not decay like natural teeth. When properly placed, dental implants have a very high success rate. In fact, some put that number as high as 98%. Unfortunately, most dental insurance plans do not cover implants. And they can be expensive. So, we will tackle them in a future blog post. 


When a tooth has been lost and healthy teeth remain on both sides of the newly missing tooth or teeth, your dentist can use a fixed bridge option. The procedure for making a fixed bridge is essentially the same as having a crown made. However, a fixed bridge involves at least two supporting teeth. What can cause confusion is the number of teeth needed for a fixed bridge. To replace one missing tooth requires a three-tooth bridge. This is because the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth must provide support. We will discuss bridges more in detail in a future post. 


Complete or partial dentures can replace your missing teeth and give you the confidence to smile. Dentures can be used to replace teeth that have been lost due to trauma, decay, or gum disease. It is important to replace missing teeth, not only because teeth help with eating food, but because they help support the facial muscles and are critical for speech.

History of False Teeth/Early Dentures

  • Ancient Egyptians are said to have created the first false teeth. They repurposed human teeth and used gold wire to fill gaps. Evidence also exists that ancient Mexican tribes used animal teeth (from wolves) — as replacement teeth.
  • In the 16th century, the Japanese created the oldest known pair of complete dentures in the 16th century. They made these using the wood of Japanese Box trees. In fact, wood was a primary tooth replacement material until the 1800s.
  • During this time, people were experimented with crafting full sets of replacement teeth from hippo, walrus, and elephant ivory. Unfortunately, these ivory teeth stained easily, smelled bad, and were very uncomfortable to wear.
  • In 1770, a man named Nicolas Dubois De Chemant made the first porcelain dentures. 
  • From 1850 into the 1930s, dentists experimented with dentures made from materials such as hardened rubber, celluloid, and Bakelite 
  • The final solution? Acrylic resin.
  • Acrylic resin is hard, translucent, and without unpleasant odor or toxicity. Also, it is easily to repair and is relatively inexpensive. 

Full Dentures

There are two different types of removable full dentures– immediate and conventional. Immediate dentures are typically made when the patient’s existing natural teeth are being removed and the new dentures are delivered the day of the extractions. Conventional dentures are typically made when existing dentures are being replaced.

Partial Dentures

A partial denture is a removable dental appliance that replaces multiple missing teeth. It can be attached to the teeth with clasps, which are like small metal “c” clamps that hug nearby teeth. Or they may be attached to teeth with crowns using precision attachments (hidden clasps). Both types typically have a metal framework and plastic teeth and gum areas. A temporary partial denture may have a plastic base with no metal.

Modern Fixed, Implant-Retained Dentures

The problem with fixed, implant-retained dentures is that you cannot remove them. This type of modern denture stays in the mouth forever. Patients do not have to remove them each night to clean them. With this option, the dentist places four or more dental implants the jawbone, forming a secure, long-lasting bond. He then fastens your denture prosthesis in place on the implants. 

Check back next week when we will discuss another way to replace missing teeth – bridges. Until then, book an appointment at Blue Ocean Dentistry. If you’re missing teeth, we will help determine the option that best addresses your medical and financial situation.

About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California

Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.