Dentures are removable appliances that can replace missing teeth and help restore your smile. If you’ve lost all of your natural teeth, whether from gum disease, tooth decay or injury, replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health. That’s because dentures make it easier to eat and speak better than you could without teeth—things that people often take for granted.
When you lose all of your teeth, facial muscles can sag, making you look older. Dentures can help fill out the appearance of your face and profile. They can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that your appearance does not change much. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile.
Types of Dentures
Conventional: This full removable denture is made and placed in your mouth after all remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed, which may take several months.
Immediate: This removable denture is inserted on the same day that the remaining teeth are removed. Dr. Howe will make molds of your jaw during a preliminary visit. You don’t have to be without teeth during the healing period, but may need to have the denture relined or remade after your jaw has healed.
Overdenture: Sometimes some of your teeth can be saved to preserve your jawbone and provide stability and support for the denture. An overdenture fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth after they have been prepared by your dentist. Implants can serve the same function, too.
New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel lose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. It is not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should go away. Follow-up appointments with the dentist are generally needed after a denture is inserted so the fit can be checked and adjusted. If any problem persists, particularly irritation or soreness, be sure to consult Dr. Howe.
Caring for Dentures
Like your teeth, dentures should be brushed daily to remove food particles and plaque. Brushing can also help keep the teeth from staining.
- Rinse your dentures before brushing to remove any loose food or debris.
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser to gently brush all the surfaces of the dentures so they don’t get scratched.
- When brushing, clean your mouth thoroughly—including your gums, cheeks, roof of your mouth and tongue to remove any plaque. This can help reduce the risk of oral irritation and bad breath.
- When you’re not wearing your dentures, put them in a safe place covered in water to keep them from drying out and warping.
- Occasionally, denture wearers may use adhesives. Adhesives come in many forms: creams, powders, pads/wafers, strips or liquids. If you use one of these products, read the instructions and use them exactly as directed. Your dentist can recommend appropriate cleansers and adhesives; look for products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Products with the ADA Seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
If you have any questions about your dentures, or if they stop fitting well or become damaged, contact Dr. Howe. Be sure to schedule regular dental checkups, too. He will examine your mouth to see if your dentures continue to fit properly.
Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases. Depending on your needs, your dentist will design a partial denture for you. A partial denture may have a metal framework and clasps that connect to your teeth, or they can have other connectors that are more natural looking. Crowns on your natural teeth are sometimes needed to improve strength and fit of a removable partial denture. A more modern style of partial denture has a framework of flexible pink plastic and no metal; hence it is more esthetic and pleasing to the eyes.
What to Expect with Dentures and Partial Dentures
- In the beginning, your new denture may feel awkward or bulky. This is normal, and you will eventually become accustomed to wearing it.
- Inserting and removing the partial denture will require some practice.
- Follow all instructions given by Dr. Howe. Your denture should fit into place with relative ease. Never force the partial denture into position by biting down. This could bend or break the clasps.
- Dr. Howe will give you specific instruction about how long the denture should be worn and when it should be removed.
- Initially, you may be asked to wear your denture or partial denture all the time. Although this may be uncomfortable at first, it’s the quickest way to identify areas that may need adjustment.
- If the denture puts too much pressure on a particular area, that spot will become sore. Dr. Howe will adjust the denture to fit more comfortably. After making adjustments, he will probably recommend that you take the denture out of your mouth before going to bed and replace it in the morning.
- Eating should eventually become a pleasant experience with partial dentures. Start out by eating soft foods that are cut into small pieces. Chew on both sides of the mouth to keep even pressure on both sides. Avoid foods that are extremely sticky or hard. You may want to avoid chewing gum during the adjustment period.
- Dentures and partial dentures may impede your speech initially. If you find it difficult to pronounce certain words, practice reading out loud. Repeat the words that give you trouble. With time, you will become accustomed to speaking properly with your denture.
Over time, adjusting the denture may be necessary. As you age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can shrink, resulting in a poorly fitting denture.
Dentures that do not fit properly should be adjusted by Dr. Howe. Poorly fitting dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. See your dentist promptly if your denture becomes loose, and maintain your regular visits, too.
Remember: You can do serious harm to your denture and to your health by trying to adjust or repair your denture. Using a do-it-yourself kit can damage the appliance beyond repair. Glues sold over-the-counter often contain harmful chemicals and should not be used on a denture. If your denture breaks, cracks or chips, or if one of the teeth becomes loose, call Dr. Howe immediately. In many cases, he can make necessary adjustments or repairs, often on the same day. Complicated repairs may require that the denture be sent to a special dental laboratory.