A denture, usually made of acrylic resin, is a non-permanent replacement for teeth and tissues that are missing.
Types of dentures
When all teeth are missing, full dentures may be needed on the upper or lower jaw, or both. A partial denture can fill gaps caused by missing teeth and stops other teeth from moving.
Candidates for complete, or full, dentures are missing most or all of their natural teeth. A candidate for a partial denture is someone who still has some original teeth. A denture can improve the ability to chew food and speak, as well as providing support for muscles in the face. Additionally, it can improve the appearance of the smile and face.
Complete dentures are either “conventional” or “immediate,” depending on when they are made and placed in the mouth. Immediate dentures can be utilized as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. One advantage of this type of dentures is that the patient does not have to be without teeth while he or she is healing. That said, the gums can shrink and immediate dentures may need to be adjusted over time. Conventional dentures can be used once healing has occurred, which can take approximately 4 to 6 months.
Removable partial dentures are typically made up of artificial replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which may be connected by metal framework or may also be made without metal as cosmetic partial dentures. Applying crowns to the remaining natural teeth may help the partial denture fit more snugly.
First, an impression and wax bite are made using special materials. These help to determine vertical dimensions and proper jaw positioning, and are given to the laboratory so a denture can made to fit perfectly in your mouth. From start to finish, the denture process takes approximately one month and five appointments.
Getting used to your denture
A new denture may feel uncomfortable or bulky, especially for the first few weeks of wear. You will eventually get used to wearing it, although taking it in and out will require practice. Your denture should fit easily into place, so you should never have to force it into place as this could damage the denture.
Your dentist may require you to wear your denture all the time at first. This may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it is the fastest way to determine which parts of the denture may need adjusted. If you have sore spots in your mouth, the denture could be putting too much pressure on a specific area and may need to be adjusted to fit better. When first wearing the denture, try eating soft foods cut into small, bite-sized pieces. Avoid hard or sticky foods, including gum, and try to chew on both sides of your mouth so the pressure is distributed evenly on the denture.
We recommend standing over a folded towel or sink of water when handling your denture, in case it accidentally falls. Brush the denture daily to remove food particles and plaque, and keep to it from becoming permanently soiled or stained. Do not use a brush with hard bristles, as it can damage the denture. Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, or use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid. Make sure to carefully clean teeth under the denture’s metal clasps as they can collect plaque. Dentures without metal attachments should be placed in water or soaking solution at night to keep moist.
Even those with full dentures need to practice good oral hygiene. Every morning the gums, tongue, and palate should be brushed before inserting dentures. A proper diet is also essential for maintaining a healthy mouth.
Denture adjustments may be required over time, as our mouths naturally change. Bones and gum ridges can shrink or recede, which can cause dentures to become loose. Avoid using a do-it-yourself kit or over-the-counter glue to adjust your dentures, as these can damage the appliance beyond repair. Rather, see your dentist immediately if your denture requires adjustment.
At first, eating will take some practice. Try starting with soft foods cut into bite-sized pieces. Chew slowly and use both sides of your moth simultaneously to prevent tipping. Once you become comfortable with your dentures, you may slowly return to your normal diet. Always be cautious with hard, sticky, or hot foods.
Some patients are concerned about how dentures will affect their speech.
Pronouncing certain words may require practice, but it will get easier over time. Reading aloud and repeating troublesome words will help. If you notice your dentures clicking when you talk, try speaking more slowly. Your dentures may sometimes slip when you laugh, cough or smile, but can be repositioned by gently biting down and swallowing. If you continue to have issues with speech, consult your dentist.