Dentures (false teeth) 

  • Overview

Introduction 

The cost of dentures on the NHS

Having dentures fitted is a band 3 treatment. This means that dentures cost £219 on the NHS.

Find out more about NHS dental charges and getting help with dental costs.

Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic) or metal. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps. 

Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. Sometimes all the teeth need to be removed and replaced.

You may therefore need either:

  • complete dentures (a full set), which replace all your upper or lower teeth, or
  • partial dentures, which replace just one or a few missing teeth

Dentures can help prevent the above problems and, if complete dentures are needed, can improve the appearance of your smile, fill out your face and give you confidence.

This page offers information for anyone who is considering dentures and advice for those who already wear them. It explains:

How dentures are fitted

Complete dentures

A full denture will be fitted if all your upper or lower teeth need to be removed or you are having an old complete denture replaced.

The denture is usually fitted as soon as your teeth are removed, which means you won't ever be without teeth. The denture fits snugly over your gums and jawbone.

Occasionally, however, your gums may need to heal for several months before dentures can be fitted.

You can see either see a dentist or a qualified clinical dental technician to have your dentures made and fitted:

  • a dentist will take measurements and impressions (moulds) of your mouth, then order your full or partial dentures from a dental technician
  • a clinical dental technician will provide a full set of dentures directly without you having to see your dentist (although you should still have regular check-ups with your dentist)

A trial denture will be created from the impressions that are taken of your mouth. The dentist or clinical dental technician will try this in your mouth to assess the fit and for you to assess the appearance. The colour and shape may be adjusted before the final denture is produced.

Partial dentures

A partial denture is designed to fill in the gaps left by one or more missing teeth. It is either a plastic or metal plate with a number of false teeth attached to it. It usually clips onto some of your natural teeth via metal clasps, which hold it securely in place in your mouth. It can easily be unclipped and removed.

Your dentist will be able to take measurements of your mouth and order this for you, or you can see a qualified clinical dental technician, who can provide a partial denture for you directly after you have first seen your dentist for a treatment plan and certificate of oral health.

Read the British Dental Health Foundation information about partial dentures, including which type of denture (metal or plastic) is best for you. This also gives information on an alternative called a fixed bridge, which may be suitable for some people.

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 as to whether you should remove your dentures before you go to sleep. 

It is not always necessary to remove your dentures at night, but doing so can allow your gums to rest as you sleep. If you do remove them, 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 – to stop the denture material from drying out and altering in shape.

Dental hygiene

Keeping your mouth clean is just as important when you wear dentures. You should brush your remaining teeth, gums and tongue every morning and evening with fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decaygum disease and other dental problems. Read our teeth cleaning guide.

Cleaning dentures

It's important to regularly remove plaque and food deposits from your dentures, as unclean dentures can also lead to problems such as bad breathgum diseasetooth decay and oral thrush.

Clean your dentures as often as you would normal teeth (at least every morning and night) by:

  • brushing them with paste or soap and water before soaking to remove food particles
  • soaking the dentures in a fizzy solution of denture-cleaning tablets to remove stains and bacteria – follow the manufacturer's instructions
  • brushing them again, as you would your normal teeth (but don't scrub too hard)

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

For more information, read the British Dental Health Foundation information about denture cleaning.

Eating with dentures

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

Avoid chewing gum and any food that is sticky, hard or sharp-edged.

You can gradually start to eat other types of food until you are back to your old diet. Never use toothpicks.

Denture adhesive

You should not need to use denture fixative (adhesive) if the dentures fit properly. However, if your jawbone has shrunk a lot, adhesive may be the only way to help retain them. Your dentist or clinical dental technician will advise you if this is the case.

Some people feel more confident with their dentures if they use adhesive, at least at first. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and try not to use excessive amounts.

Adhesive can be removed from the denture by brushing with soap and water. Remnants of adhesive left in the mouth may need to be removed with some damp kitchen roll or a clean damp flannel.

When to see your dentist

You should continue to see your dentist regularly if you have dentures, even if you have complete dentures, so they can check for any problems.

Dentures should last for several years if you take good care of them. However, your gums and jawbone will eventually shrink, which means the dentures may not fit as well as they used to and can become loose, or they may become worn.

You should see your dentist as soon as possible if:

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

If poorly fitting or worn dentures are not replaced, they can cause great discomfort and lead to mouth sores, infections or problems with eating and speech.

Page last reviewed: 04/09/2013

Next review due: 04/09/2015

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Comments

The 18 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

gtechs said on 09 October 2014

I knew nothing about tooth decay until I went to secondary school in 1947. I had 3 teeth extracted at the age of 13 or 14 but got no advice on dental health. The experience put me off dentists for years. At 18 I finally had to visit a dentist and I needed 21 fillings. This course a treatment held me for a few years and I learned about keeping teeth in good shape. During the 60's I started to visit the dentist every 12 months but they had a drill and fill policy back then so they could make a living. Eventually there was more filling than tooth and my teeth deteriorated. I've had crowns fitted at upper left and right 1,4 and 5 but all but one of my upper teeth after 5 have been extracted. I only have lower left and right 1 to 4 teeth left and most of these show signs or wear. The dentist says there is no clinical need to offer NHS treatment but did quote £700 to cap 2 lower teeth..
How bad do your teeth have to get before you can get dentures on the NHS? .

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yorkiepip66 said on 26 September 2014

I am currently having teeth removed (3 to go).and top and bottom dentures fitted.i had my top ones removed years ago got dentures but stopped wearing them.so I had toothache not so long ago and went to see a dentist who said look they all need to come out,and you will need a new set of dentures.cant say im enjoying the process, but will be toothache free if only i'd been wise enough to brush when I was younger. But to anybody out there with bad teeth go see the dentist, it will be worth it.

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jamdav said on 31 July 2014

My lower denture has come apart in my mouth after 51 years' use; the upper is still going strong. I'll have to leave nuts out of the muesli for the time being.

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FoodLover7 said on 30 June 2014

Had a top denture fitted today. Can tell it'll take a while to get used to it but presentation wise it really is a massive difference. When I was young growing up around 13 and above I neglected my teeth. Growing up into 16-17 they began to get bad and rot and I never bothered to do anything about it and they gradually got worst to a point I was embarrassed to go anywhere. By 23-24 I thought I'd never get them sorted and my bad mouth was effecting my confidence in talking, eating and so much more. I got a lucky break when I went in to an emergency NHS dentist in massive pain and they gave me a chance to have my mouth done over 5-6 months. That moment has potentially changed my life for the better.

I just wanted to say please don't be scared. My mouth was genuinley terrible. I'm not even making that up, you think yours is bad? I assure you it couldn't be much worst than mine. Dentists are there to do their job, no bad teeth, less work for dentists. Most of them are much nicer and comforting than you feel too. Check out some dentists and find one you feel comfortable with. On the first appointment you can map out a plan and work from there. You'll feel excited after that moment knowing a change is going to come.

DON'T HOLD BACK. If it wasn't for one moment then my mouth probably wouldn't of ever been sorted. I thank God for that one moment. Your mouth/teeth is one of the most important things that you use every single day of your life. Never be ashamed, embarrassed or scared to attend a dentist and get it sorted. Also if you fear the pain, most dentists are lovely and will make sure they either give you anesthetic or do everything they can to make it as little pain as possible. Be strong and confident!

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adzboi123 said on 30 April 2014

advice please... i have really bad teeth and i have about 9 full teeth left which are now rotting... i need to have them all out and have dentures but i need to know if this can be done in hospital with them putting me to sleep ?

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Teacher1973 said on 14 April 2014

After 15 years of dental neglect due to a phobia of pain and dentists, I plucked up the courage last week to attend a private dental clinic in my town that dealt with extremely nervous patients.
After a glass of wine (!), I attended the clinic for a check-up (a visual exam was all that I allowed the dentist).
A breakdown of several appointments was then drawn up, including the removal of all my lower teeth (except my two ‘fangs’ as I call them) under sedation.
A mould of my lower teeth (without sedation I might add) was also taken with a note from my dentist saying which teeth were to be removed.
Last week, I had the 7 rotten teeth removed from my bottom gum and ended up with some dissolvable stitches. Yes, I had to take antibiotics and painkillers, but 4 days later, there is only a mild discomfort.
This morning I went to my dentist who patiently talked me through the placing of the set of false teeth (plate) in my lower mouth. After checking the fit, he shaved parts of the false plate, which he held in his hand and let me watch (out of interest).
He then placed a soft gel in the false plate (for cushioning purposes) and then placed it in my mouth.
It felt slightly weird to start with (I mean, who is used to having acrylic in their mouth), but I just kept thinking how great it will be to not have any more dental pain!!
So far today, I have been wearing the plate for 30 minutes in and 5 minutes out - as my gums still need to heal a bit!
I am now excitedly waiting to have my top plate fitted (no extractions required) although I only have 7 teeth left (all crowned).
For those of you that are terrified (like me) by anything related to teeth, I strongly recommend having rotten / misaligned teeth removed (either under sedation or general anaesthetic) and having ‘false teeth’. Just think - you’ll never have to worry about pain ever again!
I wish everyone of you the very best - get your confidence and your gorgeous smile back!

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Scarlet26 said on 22 March 2014

I had a full dental clearance (28 extractions) under GA in Dec 13. My temp dentures were put in on the same day. I had severe pain which eased after about a month. Remember I had 28 open wounds to cope with. During this time the main issue is cleanliness. Clean your dentures with Steradent or similar and keep your gums clean! This means a mouthwash of warm salty water or Corsodyl after every meal and more if you have the time. I'm still wearing my temps but my gums are healed and have shrunk sufficiently to be thinking about getting my permanent dentures. I cannot eat with dentures in as I do not like the feel but - I am persevering as it is a pain removing the dentures (fixative is not easy to remove no matter what anyone says) in order to eat. It has been a long and often extremely painful process but I have no regrets. My teeth look beautiful. I look 10 years younger - and have renewed confidence in myself. Please don't suffer with unsightly teeth for years like I did. Having dentures will change your whole life. I smile and talk without feeling self conscious and ashamed of my teeth and am even considering dating again!

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kaza66 said on 09 March 2014

Havent been to the dentist in 12 years!! My back teeth are really bad...broken down to the gum.Now 2 of my front teeth are decaying..I already have 2 teeth on a plate but really want all my teeth out and want dentures.Not registered with a dentist.....Help!!

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pward1969 said on 19 January 2014

I haven't been to the dentist in 25 years (due to fear) and my teeth are in rotten (literally) condition. I have been on the NHS Dentist waiting list for just under a year and have finally received the details of a dentist to go to. My question is, I think I will need all my teeth removing (the majority are either missing or completely black). From comments I have read on this site, it states that dentures are fitted straight away. Is there no healing time for the gums? From experience when I have had an extraction, the gum was sore for a couple of days afterwards. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Sammy4 said on 15 December 2013

Tj85 I am 28 and just plucked up the courage to have dentures. I was that scared to go to the dentist that two years ago I allowed an abscess in my wisdom teeth to get that bad I could no longer open my mouth! I had to force pieces of food inbetween the gap I could manage and ended up with surgery to remove all of my wisdom teeth. Disolvable stitches are not fun at all! Last week with the possibility after another shattered tooth of another abscess I decided it was time! I would like to be able to eat a sandwich without having to use a knife and fork so I called my dentist exsplained everything they were great! I have blogged my exsperience on blogger called "dentures at 28" I was exspecting more pain than I ever could think. I was so lucky I went for a consultation last friday and yesterday I had my dentures fitted! I'm a little sore but nothing I exspected! Best of all I was exspecting the place where I had my teeth pulled to be the bit that caused me the pain but actually it is where I had the injections on the roof of my mouth that have been the sore places. I had my dentures on the NHS and those I worked with thought they would look pretty bad but they have all commented today how great they look and how they would not have noticed if they had not seen the before and after! I'm so happy ! The dentist I visited gave me my smile back! My brother is even planning on having his done because they look great!!!

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tj85 said on 10 December 2013

Not really a few but after advice. I'm 28 years old and have had a lot of bad experiences with dentists to the point I have a big phobia of them now lol. I have really bad teeth now and no doubt will need to have them all out and dentures fitted. What is the process? Feel really self concious at the moment. plus I work and I can't take a lot of time off. Any advice much appreciated.

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funkidread said on 25 September 2013

My dentist has left me with no top teeth for 3 weeks after a full extraction of all top teeth made no attempt to adjust immediate denture which makes me look like a boxer with a gum shield in. A poor dentist not workwise but customer wise. They have explained nothing to me in the four months i been seeing them. Kings college where i had my extractions done made me feel better in the 45 mins i was there having my teeth out ... Not happy

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teresam19 said on 10 July 2013

my dentures have lasted over 30 years ( I am 52). I need to have a few teeth removed and a new one fitted. Also my lower front implant has now come out which means another partial denture. My confidence has gone as I dont like talking to anyone, and my husband thought i was joking when I said I may end up a recluse. Not looking forward to spending weeks or months indoors whilst my gums heal.
I had dentures because NHS dentists did not correct the gaps in my teeth in the early 60s and I suffered years of bullying, even in my first job. My lack of confidence stems from this and now this happens.

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marylou14 said on 08 July 2013

I had all my teeth out 1/7/13 and dentures straight in not very nice at all have to keep going back to the private dentist to have alterations on both dentures causing ulcers in my mouth have to take them out for a little relief this will go on until gums settle 3 - 6 months very worried and house bound. all suggestions welcome Then will have to pay for another upper & lower which fingers crossed maybe better.

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adzboi1 said on 19 June 2013

hi, when you had all your teeth out where did you go for them to be taken out? also did you get put to sleep so you didnt feel it? thanks

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ecclescake56 said on 05 November 2012

So what was the solution to this problem, did you get it sorted or still waiting??

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bruce curtis said on 23 August 2012

My wife had 2 bottom teeth out on 9th May & an impresion taken, new bottom set duly arrived obviously with space where the teeth had been, it took untill 22nd August for the gum to settle, back to dentist for refit, Ah, over 8 weeks you have to pay! surely the dentist should finish the job? Bruce Curtis

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sevans2010 said on 03 July 2012

I have had to have all my teeth removed. The dentures that I have been given but the bottom set will not stay in place, even with an adhesive. The dentist suggested having two pins inserted to use as an anchor. But the price quoted was about £1500 per pin. Is this correct? And is this procedure not available on the NHS?
Having to take my teeth out to eat doesn't make me the most attractive dinner guest!

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Dental health

How to care for your teeth, including check-ups, brushing, braces and whitening

NHS dental treatments

The section describes the common treatments available on the NHS and the costs involved