Dentures are worn to replace missing teeth so that people can eat well and smile with confidence. They can be made to closely match your natural teeth so that your appearance hardly changes. Dentures are made of either plastic or a combination of metal and plastic.
A full denture is one which replaces all the natural teeth. It gives support to your cheeks and lips. Without this support, sagging facial muscles can make a person look older. Full dentures fit snugly over your gums.
A partial denture fills in the spaces left by missing teeth. It can gain grip from some of your remaining teeth with metal clips. They tend to have more support and are generally easier to wear for this reason. When there are spaces that haven’t been filled the surrounding teeth can move into these areas. This could cause crooked teeth which can be unsightly and affect your bite. It can also lead to the remaining teeth taking a greater load and potentially damaging them.
How many visits are needed to make my Denture?
This will depend on the type of denture that you need. Typically the number of visits to make dentures varies between two and four. The visits involve impressions (making moulds of the mouth) measuring the bite, a trial fit visit and the actual fit visit. We will advise you how many visits are planned at the first appointment. Sometimes after dentures are fitted a review visit may be needed if some adjustment is required.
Dentures can be fitted straight after your teeth have been extracted. These are called ‘immediate dentures’. You will need to visit the dentist beforehand for them to take measurements and impressions of your mouth.
With immediate dentures you don’t have to be without teeth while your gums are healing. However, bone and gums can shrink over time, especially during the first six months after your teeth have been taken out. If your gums shrink, your immediate dentures may not fit as well as when they were made. When this happens we can consider putting a new ‘reline’ surface inside the denture. Immediate dentures don’t tend to last as long as standard dentures and will need to be replaced sooner. Sometimes we may advise you to wait until your gums are healed before having your dentures, depending on the situation.
Adapting to new dentures
Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly, using both sides of your mouth at the same time to stop the denture from moving. As you become more used to your denture, add other foods until you get back to your normal healthy diet. Pronouncing certain words may take practice at first. As the denture changes the shape of your mouth if often takes a week or so to adapt. If you find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile, reposition them by gently biting down and swallowing. If this continues see your dentist.
How long should I wear my dentures?
During the first few days, its best to wear them as much as possible, including while you are asleep. After your mouth gets used to your dentures its better to leave them out at night. This allows your gums to rest and helps keep your mouth healthy as the saliva in your mouth helps to protect against infections.
My upper denture fits fine, so why am I having problems with my lower?
The upper denture usually has much more suction to hold it in place. There is much less gum support in the lower jaw, and the lower denture may feel more wobbly as it has to be balanced between your cheeks and your tongue.
After a little while you will learn the shape of your new denture and how to keep it in place, even when you open your mouth wide.
Should I use a denture fixative?
Dentures are custom made to fit your mouth and you shouldn’t need a denture fixative. However, over time, dentures may become loose and not fit as well. When this happens, some people prefer to use a fixative for a short time before having them replaced. A poorly fitting denture may cause irritation and sores. This can often happen if you have worn ‘immediate’ dentures for some time.
Must I do anything special to care for my mouth?
Even with full dentures, you still need to take good care of your mouth. Every morning and evening, brush your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth with a soft brush. This removes plaque and helps the blood circulation in your mouth. If you wear partial dentures, it is even more important that you brush your teeth thoroughly every day. This will help stop tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to you losing more of your teeth. You may need to see the hygienist to have your remaining natural teeth cleaned regularly.
How do I take care of my dentures?
Dentures may break if you drop them. Always clean your dentures over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them.
To clean your denture, the general rule is: brush, soak, brush. Brush your dentures before soaking, to help remove any bits of food. Using an effervescent (fizzy) denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your denture feeling fresher – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Then brush the dentures again, as you would your own teeth, being careful not to scrub too hard as this may cause grooves in the surface.
Most dentists advise using toothpaste and a small- to medium-headed toothbrush. Make sure you clean all the surfaces of the dentures, including the surface which touches your gums. This is especially important if you use any kind of denture fixative.
If you notice a build up of stains or scale, we can clean your denture.
How long will my dentures last?
As long as you treat your dentures well, they should last several years. However, your dentures will need to be relined or re-made because of normal wear or a change in the shape of your mouth. Bone and gum ridges can shrink, causing your jaws to meet differently. Loose dentures can cause health problems, including sores and infections, not to mention discomfort. A loose or badly fitting denture can also make eating and talking more difficult. It is important to replace worn or badly fitting dentures before they cause problems.
How often should I see my dentist?
For partial denture wearers regular dental check-ups and having your teeth professionally cleaned are vital for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. We recommend that you come at least once a year. Regular visits allow us to check the soft parts of your mouth, including the tongue and cheeks. This is important so that we can spot any infections, mouth conditions or even mouth cancer at the earliest stages. Full denture wearers should still visit us regularly, so we can check the rest of your mouth, pick up any problems and check the fit of your dentures. With regular professional care, a positive attitude and persistence, you can become one of the millions of people who wear their dentures with a smile.
Are dentures my only option?
No. Implants are another option to consider. This will depend on the amount of bone available to support them. We can determine this at a check-up with the help of a full-mouth OPG x-ray.