denture, artificial replacement for natural teeth and surrounding tissue. Dentures are classified as partial or complete. The former are removable and maintained by clasps, or are fixed bridges with crowns cemented over adjacent teeth or over spikes embedded in the jaw. Complete dentures are replacements for all of the teeth of a jaw and are normally held in place by the suction created by saliva and by the close matching of the denture base to the tissues of the mouth. The first-known mention of dentures is found in the 1728 manuscript of Pierre Fouchard, a French dental surgeon often called the father of modern dentistry. Various substances including wood, ivory, and metal have been used in the construction of dentures, but major advances have resulted from the development of synthetic rubbers and plastics. Today dentures are usually composed of acryllic or porcelain teeth mounted in an acryllic base that is tinted to resemble the gums.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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