Replacing missing teeth will benefit not only your appearance but also your health. You’ll be able to eat and speak—two things that most people often take for granted until their natural teeth are prematurely lost.
A complete denture replaces natural teeth and provides support for cheeks and lips. Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag, making a person appear older.
When the base of the upper denture rests over the gums and palate, a seal is created, which holds the denture in place.
Cheek muscles and the tongue also help hold the lower denture in place. A complete denture may also be attached to dental implants (titanium fixtures attached directly to the jaw bone), which provides a more secure fit. In addition to increasing stability of the denture, properly healed implants can help reduce further bone loss.
Your dentist will determine whether you are a candidate for dental implants and which type of denture is right for you.
The good thing about dentures is that they can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth. There may be Little change in your appearance, and full dentures can even restore the look of your smile.
Growing Accustomed to Your Dentures
New dentures may feel awkward or uncomfortable for the first few weeks. They may feel loose, as the muscles of your cheeks and tongue learn to hold them in place. Salivary flow temporarily increases. Minor irritation or soreness is not unusual, but these problems often diminish over time as your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures.
If discomfort persists, your dentist may have to make adjustments.
Eating with dentures takes a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chewing slowly and using both sides of your mouth at the same time will prevent the dentures from moving out of place. Other types of foods can gradually be introduced until you resume your normal diet.
Speaking with your new dentures will also require practice. Reading out loud and repeating difficult words in front of a mirror will help. Speaking slowly will help eliminate muffled speech. lf dentures slip out of place when you laugh, cough, or smile, you can reposition them by biting down and swallowing.
After you get your new dentures, your dentist may advise you to wear them most of the time. After the adjustment period, you may be instructed to remove them at bedtime.
In general, it is not advisable to wear dentures around the clock because tissues that are constantly covered with denture material can become irritated.
Although dentures are made to fit securely, your dentist may recommend using a denture adhesive while you become accustomed to wearing your new denture.
A loose denture, which makes chewing difficult and can change the facial features, may require relining. A denture that does not fit properly can cause irritation and possible sores and infection. Although a denture adhesive can temporarily aid a loose-fitting denture, prolonged use of adhesives is not recommended.
If your denture is loose, have your dentist check it. Your dentist may refer you to a prosthodontist, who is specially trained to provide solutions for replacing lost teeth.
Caring for Dentures
Like natural teeth, dentures must be properly cared for If they are to last. They are very delicate and may break if dropped even just a few inches onto a hard surface. When handling your dentures, stand over a folded towel or a sink filled with water. When y0u’re not wearing your dentures, store them away from curious children and pets.
Daily brushing will remove food deposits and plaque and help prevent the artificial teeth from becoming permanently stained. Although it is best to use a brush made specifically for cleaning dentures, a toothbrush with soft bristles also can be used.
Avoid hard—bristled brushes, which can damage dentures. An ultrasonic cleaner may be used to care for your dentures, but it does not replace a thorough daily brushing.
Some denture wearers use hand soap or mild dish washing liquid, both of which are acceptable for cleaning dentures.
Avoid other household cleaners, however, as they may be too abrasive. Your dentist may recommend a denture cleanser.
To clean the denture, rinse off loose particles, Moisten the brush and apply the cleanser. Gently brush every surface to avoid damage.
Don’t let your dentures dry out or they might lose their shape. When you are not wearing them, place dentures in a denture—c|eanser soaking solution or in plain water.
Your dentist can recommend the best method. Never soak dentures in hot water, which can cause them to warp. Look for denture cleansers that display the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, a symbol of safety and effectiveness.
See your dentist if your dentures break, crack, or chip or if any of the teeth become loose. Your dentist should be the only one to make adjustments and repairs. A person who lacks the proper training will not be able to reconstruct or repair a denture. Don’t be tempted to adjust them yourself.
This can increase damage to the denture and may cause oral health problems. Over-the-counter glues should not be used on dentures. Not only do they often contain harmful chemicals-they also are ineffective in repairing.
Your dentures eventually may need relining, rebasing or replacing due to normal wear. Denture relining involves adding new material to the underside of the denture base to conform to your gums. In rebasing, a new base is made using the existing denture as a model and attaching the artificial teeth from the original denture. In some instances, worn artificial teeth are replaced with new ones.
The mouth changes naturally with age, and this means your dentures will have to be remade at varying intervals determined by your dentist. Jaws may align differently as bones and gum ridges recede and shrink. Shrinking ridges may result in dentures that do not fit securely. It is important to replace worn or poorly fitting dentures before they cause problems.
Caring for Your Mouth
Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue, and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures. This stimulates circulation in your tissues and helps remove plaque. Selecting a balanced diet for proper nutrition is also important for maintaining a healthy mouth.
Even after you have lost your teeth, regular oral examinations by your dentist are necessary. The mouth and oral tissues are subject to potentially serious diseases and should be examined on a routine basis. During your visit, the dentist will look for signs of oral disease, such as cancer.
Your dental office will advise you about how often you should have checkups. During the visit, the dentist will examine your mouth to see whether your dentures continue to fit and determine whether adjustments are needed.
You can wear your new denture with a smile if you have a positive attitude, have a balanced diet, are persistent in practicing how you speak and eat, and see your dentist regularly.