Dentures (false teeth)


What are dentures?

Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic), nylon or metal. They sit over the gums to replace missing teeth.

Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech.

If you have teeth that need to be removed you may be advised by your dentist to have a denture made to replace them. Dentures may help prevent problems with eating and speech and improve the appearance of your smile.

Dentures can be:

  • Complete (a full set) - replacing all your upper or lower teeth
  • Partial - which replace just 1 tooth or a few missing teeth

It is also possible that dentures might not give you the result you hope for, and there may be other options for replacing your missing teeth.

There may be options for replacing teeth which are not available on the NHS, such as implants, and you will have to pay privately for these.

Discuss options for replacing teeth openly with your dental professional before you agree to go ahead.

How dentures are fitted

Complete dentures

A full denture will be fitted if you have no upper or lower teeth.

If you are having all your remaining teeth removed, it is possible to fit a complete denture at the same time as your teeth are removed. However, as the gum and bone heals, the denture is likely to become loose and will need replacing or modifying after a few months.

In some cases, your gums may need to be left to heal for several months, during which time the shape of your mouth will change, before dentures can be fitted.

Dentures can be made by a dentist or a Clinical Dental Technician. If you have dentures made by a Clinical Dental Technician, you will still need to see a dentist for a check-up.

Partial dentures

A partial denture is designed to fill in the gaps left by one or more missing teeth.

There are many options for different types of materials a partial denture can be made from. Your dentist will advise which is most suitable for you. Some materials are not available on the NHS, and you may have to pay privately.

If you only have a few missing teeth, speak to a dentist about options for replacing them. Some options may only be available privately. A clinical dental technician can provide you with a partial denture, but only after you have seen a dentist for an oral health assessment.

The Oral Health Foundation website has more information and advice about replacing missing teeth.

Looking after your dentures

Dentures may feel a bit strange to begin with, but you'll soon get used to wearing them.

At first, you may need to wear your dentures all the time, including while sleeping.

Your dentist or clinical dental technician will advise you on whether you should remove your dentures before you go to sleep.

If you remove your dentures, they should be kept moist – for example, in water or a polythene bag with some dampened cotton wool in it, or in a suitable overnight denture-cleaning solution. This will stop the denture material drying out and changing shape.

Dental hygiene

Keeping your mouth and dentures clean is important.

You should brush your remaining teeth, gums and tongue every morning and evening with fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems.

It's important to regularly remove plaque and food deposits from your dentures. Unclean dentures can lead to problems, such as bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and oral thrush.

Clean your dentures twice a day by brushing them with toothpaste or soap and water. Use denture-cleaning solution or tablets to remove stains and bacteria (follow the manufacturer's instructions).

Dentures may break if you drop them, so clean them over a bowl or sink filled with water, or something soft like a folded towel.

Find more information on denture cleaning, on the Oral Health Foundation website.

Eating with dentures

When you first start wearing dentures eat soft foods cut into small pieces and chew slowly, using both sides of your mouth.

Avoid chewing gum and any food that's sticky, hard or has sharp edges.

You can gradually start to eat other types of food until you're back to your old diet.

When to see your dentist

If you have dentures (even if you have complete dentures) you should still see a dentist regularly so they can check for any problems. Your dentist will advise you how often you should attend for a check-up.

Your dentures should last several years if you take good care of them. Your gums and jawbone will change shape and shrink over time, so your dentures may not fit as well as they did when you first got them.

See a dentist if:

  • your dentures click when you talk
  • your dentures slip, or you feel they no longer fit properly
  • your dentures are uncomfortable
  • your dentures are visibly worn
  • you have signs of gum disease or tooth decay, such as bleeding gums or bad breath

Poorly fitting or worn dentures can cause discomfort and lead to mouth sores, infections, problems eating, and difficulty speaking.

How much dentures cost on the NHS

Dentures are a band 3 treatment.

Read about understanding NHS dental charges for the different bands and how to get help with dental costs.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 19/03/2024 11:36:48