Dentures and Partials
Dentures are removable appliances that can replace missing teeth and help restore your smile. If you’ve lost all of your natural teeth, whether from gum disease, tooth decay or injury, replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health. That’s because dentures make it easier to eat and speak better than you could without teeth—things that people often take for granted. When you lose your teeth, facial muscles can sag, making you look older. Dentures can help fill out the appearance of your face and profile. They can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that your appearance does not change much. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile.
Types of dentures:
Conventional. This full removable denture is made and placed in your mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed, which may take several months. Immediate. This removable denture is inserted on the same day that the remaining teeth are removed. Your dentist will take measurements and make models of your jaw during a preliminary visit. You don’t have to be without teeth during the healing period, but may need to have the denture relined or remade after your jaw has healed.
Overdenture. Sometimes some of your teeth can be saved to preserve your jawbone and provide stability and support for the denture. An overdenture fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth after they have been prepared by your dentist. Implants can serve the same function, too. New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. It is not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should go away. Follow-up appointments with the dentist are generally needed after a denture is inserted so the fit can be checked and adjusted. If any problem persists, particularly irritation or soreness, be sure to consult your dentist.
Even if you wear full dentures, you still have to practice good dental hygiene. Brush your gums, tongue and roof of your mouth every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque. Like your teeth, your dentures should be brushed daily to remove food particles and plaque. Brushing also can help keep the teeth from staining. Rinse your dentures before brushing to remove any loose food or debris. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser to gently brush all the surfaces of the dentures.
Removable partial dentures. Consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases. Depending on your needs, your dentist will design a partial denture for you. A partial denture may have a metal framework and clasps that connect to your teeth, or they can have other connectors that are more natural looking. In some cases, a removable partial denture is made to attach to your natural teeth with devices called precision attachments. Precision attachments are generally more esthetic than clasps.
Crowns on your natural teeth are sometimes needed to improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments. Partial dentures with precision attachments generally cost more than those with clasps. Consult with your dentist to find out which type is right for you.
What to expect:
- In the beginning, your new partial denture may feel awkward or bulky. This is normal, and you will eventually become accustomed to wearing it.
- Inserting and removing the partial denture will require some practice.
- Follow all instructions given by your dentist. Your denture should fit into place with relative ease. Never force the partial denture into position by biting down. This could bend or break the clasps.
- Your dentist will give you specific instruction about how long the denture should be worn and when it should be removed.
Initially, you may be asked to wear your partial denture all the time. Although this may be uncomfortable at first, it’s the quickest way to identify areas that may need adjustment.
If the denture puts too much pressure on a particular area, that spot will become sore. Your dentist will adjust the partial denture to fit more comfortably. After making adjustments, your dentist will probably recommend that you take the partial denture out of your mouth before going to bed and replace it in the morning.
Eating should become a more pleasant experience with dentures. Start out by eating soft foods that are cut into small pieces. Chew on both sides of the mouth to keep even pressure on both sides. Avoid foods that are extremely sticky or hard. You may want to avoid chewing gum during the adjustment period.
Partial denture can also help improve your speech. If you find it difficult to pronounce certain words, practice reading out loud. Repeat the words that give you trouble. With time, you will become accustomed to speaking properly with your partial denture.
Caring for your dentures:
Your dentist can recommend a denture cleaner. Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
When cleaning a partial denture, it’s a good idea to stand over a folded towel or a sink of water just in case you accidentally drop the denture.
Do not use toothpaste since it can be too harsh for cleaning dentures.
Brush the denture each day to remove food deposits and plaque. The helps the denture from becoming permanently stained. It’s best to use a brush that is designed for cleaning dentures because it has bristles that are arranged to fit the shape of the denture. A regular, soft-bristled toothbrush is also acceptable. Avoid using a brush with hard bristles, which can damage the denture.
A denture could lose its proper shape if it is not kept moist. At night, the denture should be placed in soaking solution or water. Your dentist can recommend the proper method for keeping your dentures in good shape.
Don’t chew, swallow, or gargle with denture cleansers. Always thoroughly rinse the denture before placing it in your mouth.
Over time, adjusting the denture may be necessary. As you age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, resulting in a poorly fitting denture.
Dentures that do not fit properly should be adjusted by your dentist. Poorly fitting dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. See your dentist promptly if your denture becomes loose, and maintain your regular visits, too.
Remember: You can do serious harm to your denture and to your health by trying to adjust or repair your denture. Using a do-it-yourself kit can damage the appliance beyond repair. Glues sold over-the-counter often contain harmful chemicals and should not be used on a denture. If your denture breaks, cracks or chips, or if one of the teeth becomes loose, call your dentist immediately. In many cases, dentists can make necessary adjustments or repairs, often on the same day. Complicated repairs may require that the denture be sent to a special dental laboratory.
Thanks to the American Dental Association for this information. More information is available at Mouthhealthy.org