If you lost some or all of your natural teeth, dentures can replace your missing teeth and improve your quality of life. With a little practice, dentures can make eating and speaking easier. You can smile freely without feeling embarrassed.
Dentures can be made to look like your natural teeth. There may be only a small change in how you look. Full dentures may even give you a better smile. Dentures also support your cheeks and lips so the face muscles don’t sag and make you look older.
Conventional complete dentures: Conventional complete dentures have replacement teeth fitted into an acrylic base. The base is made to closely match the color of your gums. If you still have some natural teeth, they will be removed before your dentures are placed.
• A conventional complete denture is made and placed in your mouth after the teeth are taken out and the tissues have healed. Healing may take several months.
• The base of the upper denture covers the palate (the roof of your mouth). When the base of the upper denture rests against your gums and palate, it makes a seal to hold the denture in place.
• The lower denture has a horseshoe shape so there is room for your tongue and muscle attachments. It rests on the gum and bone tissues of your dental ridge. Your cheek muscles and tongue also help hold the lower denture in place.
Implant-supported complete dentures: A complete denture may also be attached to dental implants, which provide a more secure fit.
• Implants are posts that are surgically placed in your upper or lower jaw.
• Properly placed implants make the denture stable and can help reduce bone loss.
• Many people find that implant-supported dentures are more comfortable and secure than conventional dentures.
However, not everyone should get implants. You must be in good health and have enough bone to support the implants. Ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Some people may have the option to get immediate dentures. These dentures are made before the remaining teeth are removed. Once the denture has been made at the lab and is ready for you at your dentist’s office, your dentist removes your teeth and the denture is placed right away.
• With immediate dentures, you do not have to go without teeth during the healing time. Once healing is complete, the dentures may need to be adjusted or relined. Sometimes a new denture needs to be made.
It is normal for them to feel odd or uncomfortable for the first few weeks.
• The lower one may feel especially loose until your cheek and tongue muscles learn to hold it in place.
• You may have extra saliva for a short time.
• Some soreness should be expected for the first week or two.
• Your dentist will check on your progress and make any adjustments needed to make you more comfortable.
• Begin by eating soft foods cut into small pieces.
• Chew on both sides of your mouth to keep the pressure even.
• Do not chew gum or eat very sticky or hard foods.
• Try reading out loud and repeating tricky words in front of a mirror.
• Talk slowly to prevent muffled speech.
• If your dentures slip out of place when you laugh, cough, or smile, bite down and swallow to reposition them.
When you get new dentures, your dentist may tell you to wear them most of the time. After the adjustment period, dentures should not be worn 24 hours a day. Your dentist may tell you to take them out at bedtime and put them back in when you wake up.
Don’t wear your dentures around the clock because tissues in your mouth can become irritated if they are covered with denture material all of the time.
A denture that does not fit well may cause irritation, mouth sores, and infection. Denture adhesive can help a loose-fitting denture for a short time, but using adhesives all the time is not recommended. If the denture is loose, have your dentist check it. If you are using an adhesive, make sure you follow the instructions for use.
Even if you wear full dentures, it’s important to take good care of your mouth.
Brush your gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures. This increases circulation in your tissues and helps remove plaque. Eating a balanced diet is also important to keep your mouth healthy.
You will still need regular oral exams by your dentist even after you have lost your teeth. The dental office will tell you how often you should have dental visits. During a visit, your dentist will look for signs of disease such as fungal infection (also called thrush), oral cancer, or cancer of the head and neck. Your dentist will also check to see if your dentures fit well or might need adjustments.
Like natural teeth, you must take good care of your denture. Here are some tips:
• Clean your denture every day. Take it out of your mouth and rinse off food particles. It’s best to use a special brush made for cleaning dentures, but you can use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Wet a denture brush and put denture cleaner on it. Or, you can use a little bit of liquid dish soap.
• Do not use toothpaste to clean dentures. Some toothpastes have abrasive particles that can damage the denture base and teeth.
• Keep your denture in water or in a specially made denture soaking solution when you are not wearing it.
• Rinse your denture well after using any denture cleanser. It may contain chemicals that should not go into the mouth.
• Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, a symbol of safety and effectiveness.
• Keep your denture away from curious children and pets when you are not wearing it, because damage can occur.
Your dentist is the only person who should make repairs to your denture. Trying to make your own adjustments can harm your denture and your health. A person without the proper training won’t be able to fix your denture. Don’t use over-the-counter reline materials or glues on your denture. They mainly contain harmful chemicals and aren’t a long-term solution for fixing your denture.
The normal lifetime of dentures is about 5 to 10 years, but this can vary widely depending on the patient. Your gum line and dental ridge will continue to change in shape and shrink, even if you do not have natural teeth anymore. Over time, dentures may need relining, rebasing, or replacing.
Relining is when your dentist adds new material to the underside of the denture base to fit to your gums. This could be either a hard or soft material, depending on the condition and sensitivity of your gums.
Rebasing is when a new base is made using your existing denture as a model. The artificial teeth from the old denture are used on the new base.
It’s important to replace worn or ill-fitting dentures before they cause problems. Your mouth changes naturally with age. Your jaws may line up differently as bones and gum ridges recede and shrink. At some point, your dentures will no longer fit well and they will have to be remade. Your dentist will let you know when it’s time to replace your dentures.