If you lose a tooth, you can replace it with a “false” (or artificial) tooth. If you don’t replace it, your other teeth may get out of line. You need to care for complete dentures and partial dentures as carefully as you would look after natural teeth. Dentures should be cleaned daily with soap/denture cleaning paste and a toothbrush/soft nailbrush. Cleaning dentures can help them look their best, while also helping to kill odor-causing bacteria.
Advantages of Wearing Dentures
You will become more confident as you get used to your dentures. As you start to feel more comfortable with dentures, you will also notice the positive impact they have on your life. The positive effects of dentures include:
- Improved appearance
- The ability to speak more clearly
- Increase in confidence
- You will be able to eat the foods you love
Main Types of Dentures
A fixed bridge (or fixed partial denture)
One or more false teeth are held between healthy teeth on both sides. You cannot take this kind of bridge out by yourself.
A partial denture (or removable partial denture)
One or more false teeth are held in place by clasps that fit onto nearby healthy teeth. You can take the false teeth out yourself, for cleaning and at night.
If you lose your teeth, these dentures can replace all your natural teeth.
Dental implants are used to support false teeth or a fixed bridge. You must have healthy gums and bone (under your teeth) to support the implant. Your dentist (or oral surgeon) will put a small metal post into your jawbone.
Over time, the post will bond with the bone around it. The post (or implant) will act like an anchor to hold one or more false teeth in place.
Dentures can be made for you by a dentist, dental prosthetist (advanced dental technician) or specialist prosthodontist. Dentures are made specially to fit your mouth. This often means several dental visits before the denture is finished, to make sure that accurate measurements are taken, and the denture fits well.
There are a number of ways to have dentures made:
- A denture is made some time after your teeth are removed. Measurements can be started usually two to three months after your teeth have been taken out. This allows time for the gum and bone to heal and settle, and means that the denture should be a better fit from the start.
- Immediate dentures may be considered, when you do not wish to be without teeth for two to three months. Denture measurements begin before the teeth are taken out, so that the dentures are ready to be put in at the same time your teeth are removed. Changes to the bone after the teeth are removed may cause the denture to become loose over time and it may need to be adjusted within a few months to improve the fit.
- Dentures may need to be replaced after a period of time.
Your oral health professional can talk with you about which option might be best for you, based on your individual circumstances. They will also talk to you about wearing dentures, which might feel unusual and take a while to adjust to.
The period of adjustment when you begin wearing new dentures can take time. Your dentures may not feel like they fit well at first. They may feel too large, cause slight gagging, or create excess saliva. Talk to your dental professional if you are having difficulty speaking clearly or eating.
As your mouth heals, these symptoms will fade and your dentures will feel more comfortable. Here’s what you can expect in the first 30 days:
- Day 1:The hardest day. Start out eating soft foods that are gentle on your gums and teeth
- Days 2-14:You may experience excess saliva, sore spots, and increased discomfort during this healing time
- Day 15+:Sore spots are healing and saliva build-up has decreased, but you may still have trouble speaking clearly and eating. Contact your dentist if you think your dentures need adjustment
How to Care for Your New Denture or Partial Denture
Insertion and removal
Your dentist or prosthesist will show you how to put in and take out your denture. Feel free to ask them questions. Make sure you are comfortable with putting them in and taking them out before you leave the clinic. Never use force to get your dentures in or out.
Your new denture may feel strange, even if you have worn dentures before. This is normal and happens because your mouth takes time to adapt. When you first eat with your new denture, start with soft foods (e.g. lightly cooked vegetables). Take small bites and chew slowly. If you have natural teeth, try to bite with them rather than the artificial ones. If possible, chew on both sides at the same time. Try to avoid hard, sticky foods until you have more experience with your dentures. While some experienced denture wearers will tell you they can eat anything, from apples to corn on the cob, this is the exception, not the rule. Most patients will find some restrictions in the foods they can manage with their dentures.
CLEANING DENTURES(NO TOOTHPASTE)
Dentures should be scrubbed and cleaned every day using a soft bristle toothbrush or denture brush. You can scrub with dish soap, denture cleaning solution, mouthwash, or cold water. Be sure to scrub the inside and outside thoroughly.
SOAK DENTURES NIGHTLY(AVOID HOT WATER)
Dentures need to be kept moist when not being worn so they do not dry out or lose their shape. Soak your dentures in water or a denture cleaning solution overnight every night. Soaking is NOT a substitute for brushing.
MAINTENANCE AND YEARLY RECALL
Dentures are not meant to last forever, normal usage and wear will result in a well-made denture needing replacement every 6-8 years. You may need to have your denture relined prior to that to improve the fit. We recommend a yearly appointment with your dentist to assess your gums and denture.
Using Denture Adhesives
Denture adhesives create a thin, glue-like film between your dentures and gums to help seal out food and secure your dentures in place. About 15 days after you start wearing dentures, or after your gums are healed completely, consider using a denture adhesive cream. Be sure to carefully follow the directions when using a denture adhesive cream, and do not use more than directed. Denture adhesives can help you eat, drink, laugh, and talk with confidence.
Your mouth may become a little sore under your new denture. If this happens, contact the clinic to arrange to have your denture adjusted.
If the soreness is severe it may help to remove the denture for at least part of the day. However, please wear the denture for a few hours before your appointment so we can work out where the adjustment is required. Remember, do not adjust or try to repair your dentures.
Dentures should be well fitted and comfortable when you chew and your breath should be fresh. See your oral health professional if you have any pain or problems with your mouth or dentures or if you need further information on denture cleaning and care.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR DENTURES
Many dentures look alike. Be very careful to avoid mixing up your dentures with someone else’s. Your dentures are custom made to fit only your mouth. It should also be noted that dogs are known for chewing on dentures. Keep your dentures away from pets to avoid breakage.
STORAGE OF OLD (SPARE) DENTURES
If your old dentures are in good shape, they can be kept as a spare set in case of emergency. To keep your dentures in good shape, clean them thoroughly, dry them completely and immediately place them in a zip lock bag in your freezer.
PARTIAL DENTURES WITH METAL(NO BLEACH)
Avoid cleaning solutions that contain bleach or any other chemical that can tarnish or weaken the metal clasps on your denture.
Your dental professionals will give you instructions about your denture that are specific for you. Typically, you will wear the denture for the first 24 hours and sleep with it in place for the first night. This allows the denture to act as a bandage. Usually the dentist who made the denture will see you the next day to adjust the bite and check the fit of the denture. For a number of days you will need to eat soft foods that are easy to chew. If you have not worn an upper partial, it may take you a few days to learn how to talk with something in the roof of your mouth—reading out loud helps your tongue adapt. It also takes a little time to get used to the denture touching the back of your palate. If you have any problems or concerns, please consult the dentist who made your denture.
Other things you can do for a healthy mouth
Other things you can do for a healthy mouth include:
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day.
- Drink plenty of tap water.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks, especially between meals.
- Have regular dental check-ups. (Ask your oral health professional how often you need to have a check-up).
- If you take medication, ask your doctor, pharmacist or oral health professional if it will affect your mouth.
- Quit smoking.
Complications of dentures
You may experience some issues with your dentures. See your oral health professional if you have:
- dentures that don’t fit well or are uncomfortable
- loose teeth
- bleeding gums
- ulcers (sores) that last more than two weeks
- a gum abscess (pus-filled sore on the gum)
- soreness or cracks in the corner of your mouth
- bad breath.
Ask your oral health professional how often you need to have your dentures checked.