Dental Appliances

Removable Dental Appliances 

Sporting Mouth Guards: Most sports have some degree of contact. A sporting mouth guard can help protect you not only from damage to the teeth, but also help prevent damage to the underlying bones and nerves including the brain.

Night Guards: Do you wake up with headaches or sore jaws in the morning? Does your partner complain that you’re making a clicking or grinding noise at night? It is possible that you are a bruxer? A nocturnal bruxer is someone who grinds their teeth at night. Some people may also grind during the day, but it is a larger problem at night while you are asleep. Grinding your teeth can damage enamel, wear down teeth, cause jaw pain, or irritate your gums. The noise from teeth grinding can also disturb your spouse’s sleep, if loud enough.

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The laboratory fabrication of a night guard can help to protect your teeth from the damaging forces and wear that can occur during nighttime grinding and can help you and your partner sleep better at night.

If you grind your teeth, you should consider a night guard. The night guard, which is very similar to a mouth guard worn by athletes, provides a barrier between your top and bottom teeth while you sleep. All night guards are custom fitted for comfort and to allow for proper breathing. We will take an impression of your teeth and have the night guard created by a dental lab. Night guards are very durable and can be used for many years. The more that you grind, the faster the guard will wear and need to be replaced, but it is much easier and less costly to replace a night guard than your teeth.

Anti-Snoring Device: Do you wake up during the night? Do you wake up still tired? Does your partner complain of your snoring? One option available to you is a splint to help reposition your lower mandibular jaw, preventing it from falling back and blocking your airway at night.

TMJ Appliance: Do you suffer from jaw pain? Do you have a difficult time opening your jaw? Does your jaw lock open? Some amount of clicking and popping of the jaw is normal; however, if you get to a point that moving your jaw becomes painful, you are most likely suffering from TMD (temporomandibular disorder). The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the connection of your lower jaw (the mandible) to the skull at the temporal bone. Pain in this joint can sometimes be caused by incorrect positioning of the head of the jaw outside of its normal position. A jaw repositioning device can help to relocate the jaw back to its correct position and alleviate symptoms of TMD. If a more severe issue is present, we partner with local specialists for surgical treatment of the joint.

Dentures: Full and Partial

Dentures are a replacement for missing teeth that can be removed and put back into your mouth as you please. Depending on each individual patient’s case, the need for full or partial dentures will be determined. Full dentures are used when all of the natural teeth are removed from the mouth and replaced with a full set of dentures. A partial denture is utilized when some of the natural teeth are able to be maintained and utilized to support the denture. A patient may have a combination of full and partial dentures on the top or bottom arch.

Partial Dentures: If you have several missing teeth, but not all of your teeth need to be removed, a partial denture is another option vs. a full denture. A partial denture is a removable, laboratory-made appliance that can replace multiple missing teeth. They are similar to a bridge, in that they use the surrounding teeth to help support the replacement teeth, but unlike a fixed bridge, a partial denture is not permanently fixed in your mouth. These devices can be supported by either the remaining teeth or the tissue itself. The number and position of the missing teeth will determine the design of the device. Many designs are available to handle whatever need you may have, with options of metal or metal-free designs depending on design needs.

Full Dentures: The use of a full denture is required when all teeth are lost. This can be due to either tooth decay or loss of supporting bone. Other conditions,  such as trauma or congenitally missing teeth, may also cause the need for fabrication of a denture. Regardless of the cause, there are two main methods for the fabrication of dentures, conventional and immediate…

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Conventional Full Dentures:  With conventional full dentures, all the teeth are removed and the tissue is given time to heal before the dentures are placed. It could take a few months for the gum tissue to heal completely, and during this time you will be without teeth. The conventional method requires more time, but has more long-term stability and can be more predictable. This method is completed in several phases with the first being the removal of any remaining teeth and contouring of the bone if needed. After this initial procedure, the mouth is allowed to heal for a period of up to several months. After the tissue has stabilized the process of taking impressions and fabrication of the dentures can begin. There may be several try-in appointments before the denture is processed. During this time, the teeth are set and adjustments are made to ensure a quality bite and appearance is achieved. Upon approval of the set teeth, the denture is processed and tried into the mouth. Any adjustments to the denture for pressure spots are made after an initial trial period. Further adjustments are made as needed. At our office, these adjustments are completed as part of the service that we provide for all denture patients and are done at no charge for a period of up to one year depending on the needs of the patient.

Immediate Full Dentures: When time without teeth is a chief concern, an alternate process of fabricating the dentures can be completed which allows for the denture to be placed on the same day that the final teeth are extracted. This is able to be done by phasing the extractions of the teeth. The back teeth are first extracted and allowed to heal. This maintains the anterior teeth for cosmetic and functional use. Prior to having your final teeth removed, we will take impressions of your mouth and make measurements to fabricate your denture so that it can be placed following your extraction appointment. After removing the teeth, the dentures are immediately placed in your mouth and are left in for a period of days while the tissue heals. The benefit is that you do not have to spend any time without teeth. You will, however, need to have a follow-up visit to refit your dentures because the jaw will change slightly as your mouth heels. This adjustment is done by relining the base, which will require the dentures to be sent back to the lab for up to a week, during which time you will be without teeth, this is, however, much less time than the conventional method.


Regardless of which method is used or either full or partial, it may take some time to get used to your dentures. The flesh-colored base of the dentures is placed over your gums. Some people say that it feels bulky or that they don’t have enough room for their tongue. The dentures are made to minimize this thickness but a minimum amount is still required for strength and longevity of the dentures. These feelings may affect the way you eat and talk for a little while. Over time, your mouth becomes trained to eat and speak with your dentures and they begin to feel more and more like your natural teeth. The goal with any denture case is to restore a patient’s smile and ability to eat and talk. While the denture may never feel perfectly natural, most patients are able to resume normal eating and speaking. Dentures are a replacement for having no teeth NOT for replacement of your natural teeth. It is best to try to maintain your natural teeth for as long as possible, but when the need arises, Dr. Cochran can help you decide when the time is right to switch to dentures. This choice should not be made lightly though, as once the teeth are gone, you are left with only two options, having dentures made or going without teeth. The use of denture adhesives is generally avoidable but may be necessary in some cases. The use of dental implants can also be discussed to help support and/or retain the denture.

Even though dentures are not real teeth, you should care for them like they are. You should clean them by brushing to remove plaque and food particles. This can be done before removing your dentures while still in the mouth or done outside of the mouth. Either use a normal toothbrush or a specialized denture brush but, in either case, the use of toothpaste is not recommended as this will microscopically roughen the surface of the denture providing a place for food and bacteria to accumulate. Your dentures are delicate, so make sure you are careful when handling them so you do not drop them. It is a good idea to first fill your sink with several inches of water and then remove the dentures while over the filled sink, so that if they do slip out of your grasp, they fall into the water vs. hitting the hard surface of the counter or floor. After they have been removed, you should place them directly into room temperature water or a denture-cleaning solution. Never put them in hot water as it can warp the dentures causing them to no longer fit properly.

While outside of the mouth, be sure to keep the dentures away from pets as they can be attracted to the smell of food on the dentures and may mistake your teeth as a chew toy. This damage is usually UNrepairable and a new denture is often required.

Also, never try to adjust your dentures yourself (yes, we have seen this before). As part of the service that we provide with newly made dentures, we include up to one year of adjustments. We have dental materials and techniques available in office that show us exactly where and how much material to remove to allow the denture to fit accurately. If adjustments are made at home, they are done blindly and may actually ruin your denture, necessitating remaking the entire denture.