What Are Dentures?
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth. Dentures consist of replacement teeth set into a gum-colored appliance that fits over your natural gums, restoring normal function and appearance to your mouth. Dentures can be used on the upper or lower jaw and designed to allow patients to remove them and put them back in themselves, without needing to visit a dentist.
Partial and Full Dentures
There are two types of dentures — full dentures (also known as complete dentures), and partial dentures.
Full dentures are used when all of a patient’s teeth are missing on the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. Partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain on the jaw.
Full dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate.” Conventional dentures are made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal. Conventional dentures are usually placed in the mouth eight to 12 weeks after teeth have been removed.
Immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as teeth are removed. With immediate dentures, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal, so immediate dentures require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and are generally only considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.
A partial denture consists of replacement teeth attached to a base made of metal and gum-colored plastic. A partial denture usually clips onto some of your natural teeth via clasps, which hold it securely in place in your mouth.
- How are dentures fitted?
It will typically take several appointments for your dentist to design and fit dentures for you. Your dentist will first take impressions of your gums. These impressions are sent to a lab, where a model of your mouth is made. The lab then works with your dentist to design your prosthesis, using the model as a base. As each phase of the design is completed, your dentist will meet with you to ensure a proper denture fit.
- Are dentures worn 24 hours a day?
Your dentist will instruct you on how long to wear dentures and when to remove them. During the first several days after receiving your denture, you may be asked to wear it all the time, including while you sleep. Although this may be temporarily uncomfortable, it’s the quickest way to identify the areas that may need adjustment. Once your denture fits comfortably, you should remove it before going to bed. This allows gum tissues to rest and allows normal stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and saliva. The denture can be put back in the mouth in the morning.
- What do new dentures feel like?
New dentures may feel a little odd or loose for a few weeks until the muscles of the cheeks and tongue learn to keep them in place and you get comfortable inserting and removing them. It’s not unusual for minor irritation or soreness to occur and for saliva flow to increase when you first start wearing dentures, but these problems will diminish as the mouth adjusts.
- Will dentures make me look different?
Dentures are made to closely resemble the natural teeth that remain in your mouth, so there should be little noticeable change in appearance. Depending on the state of your dental health prior to getting dentures, your dentures may significantly improve your smile and fill out your facial appearance.
- Will eating with dentures be difficult?
Eating with dentures will take a little practice and may be uncomfortable for some wearers for a few weeks. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces, and chew slowly using both sides of your mouth. As you get used to your dentures, you will gradually return to a normal diet. Be cautious with hot, hard, or sticky foods, and avoid chewing gum when wearing dentures.
- Will dentures change how I speak?
After getting dentures, you may have difficulty pronouncing certain words. With practice, you will become accustomed to speaking properly while wearing dentures. Dentures may occasionally slip when you laugh, cough, or smile. Reposition the dentures by gently biting down and swallowing. If dentures “click” while you’re talking, or if any speaking problem persists, consult your dentist.
- Should I use a denture adhesive?
As directed by your dentist, a denture adhesive can be used with properly fitting dentures to enhance retention, stability, bite force, and a sense of security. The adhesive should not be used as a “fix” for poorly fitting dentures or when your dentists haven’t evaluated your dentures or your oral health for a prolonged period.
- Are there alternatives to dentures?
Yes, dental implants can be used to support cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. Dental implants are more invasive than dentures, and the cost is usually greater, but implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Not everyone is a candidate for implants.
How to Care for Your Dentures
Proper denture care is important for both the health of your dentures and your mouth. Improperly maintained dentures can develop bacteria, which can cause bad breath, tooth decay on remaining teeth, and other oral hygiene issues.
You can maintain a clean denture by
- Gently brush the surface of the denture with a soft-bristled brush and hot water. Do not use toothpaste, as it is abrasive and can create microscopic scratches in the denture where plaque can build up.
- Using a denture cleaner.
- Keep dentures moist in water or a denture solution when not wearing them.
- Making regular dental visits. Your dentist will inspect your denture to ensure that it’s in good structural condition and can make adjustments as needed.
With proper care, full dentures can last 5 to10 years, while partial dentures can last up to 15 years.
Are You a Candidate for Dentures?
If you have missing teeth, or if tooth decay or gum disease requires the removal of several or more of your teeth, dentures may be the right treatment for you.
Contact Us Today
If you are considering getting dentures, contact us today to arrange a consultation. Your dentist can examine your mouth, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with the best option for restoring your mouth function, your smile, and your confidence.