77 Hurley Street
Cambridge, MA 02141
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Dentures & Partial Dentures

Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clipping onto teeth or dental implants. There are two main categories of dentures, depending on whether they are used to replace missing teeth on the mandibular arch (lower) or the maxillary arch. (upper) There are many informal names for dentures such as dental plate, false teeth and falsies.

Causes of tooth loss

Patients can become entirely edentulous (without teeth) due to many reasons, the most prevalent being removal because of dental disease typically relating to oral flora control ie:periodontal disease and tooth decay. Other reasons include tooth developmental defects caused by severe malnutrition, genetic defects such as Dentinogenesis imperfecta, or trauma.


Dentures can help give the edentulous(missing all teeth on an upper or lower arch) patient better masticatory (chewing) abilities, as well as enhance their aesthetic appeal by providing the illusion of having natural teeth, providing support for their lips and cheeks, and correcting the collapsed appearance commonly seen between the nose and the chin.

Types of dentures

Removable partial dentures

Removable partial dentures are for patients who are missing some of their teeth on a particular arch. Fixed partial dentures, better known as "crown and bridge", are made from crowns that are fitted on the remaining teeth to act as abutments and pontics made from materials to resemble the missing teeth. Fixed bridges are more expensive than removable appliances but are more stable.

Complete dentures

Conversely, complete dentures or full dentures are worn by patients who are missing all their teeth in an arch (i.e the maxillary or mandibular arch).

Problems with complete dentures

Problems with dentures include the fact that patients are not used to having something in their mouth that is not food. The brain senses this appliance as "food" and sends messages to the salivary glands to produce more saliva and to secrete it at a higher rate. New dentures will also be the inevitable cause of sore spots as they rub and press on the mucosa. A few denture adjustments for the weeks following insertion of the dentures can take care of this issue. Gagging is another problem encountered by some patients. At times, this may be due to a denture that is too loose fitting, too thick or not extended far enough posteriorly onto the soft palate. At times, gagging may also be attributed to psychological denial of the denture. (Psychological gagging is the most difficult to treat since it is out of the dentist's control. In such cases, an implant supported palateless denture may have to be constructed or a hypnotist may need to be consulted). Sometimes there could be a gingivitis under the full dentures, which is caused by accumulation of dental plaque.

For information or to schedule an appointment, call (617) 491-1403, or use our online appointment request form.


We are committed to continuously improving access to our goods and services by individuals with disabilities. This website is currently being updated to enhance the usability and experience for persons with disabilities. If you are unable to use any aspect of this website because of a disability, please call 617.491.1403 and we will provide you with prompt personalized assistance.