If all your teeth are missing, or if the teeth you have are so severely damaged that they need to be removed, you may need dentures as the best way to improve your appearance and your oral health.
Success with your dentures, whether new or a replacement, depends on a few simple tips. First of all, and most importantly, rely on your dentist or prosthodontist. Your oral care professional can offer the best advice to help you live your life with dentures. In addition to this professional advice, here are a few things you may expect to experience while adjusting to dentures. Dentures are removable artificial teeth made of plastic, nylon or metal. They fit tightly over the gums to substitute missing teeth. There are different types of dentures based on your needs:
Complete dentures - These are dentures that replace all your upper or lower teeth
Partial dentures - Partial dentures replace just one or a few missing teeth
Temporary dentures - These are dentures you can wear for the first two to three months immediately after tooth removal.
Dental grills - Grills are decorative covers that snap over one or more teeth. They are usually made of gold, silver or other precious metals.
Dental implants (denture alternative)
Getting Used To Dentures
Success with your dentures, whether new or a replacement, depends on a few simple tips. First of all, and most importantly, rely on your dentist or prosthodontist. Your oral care professional can offer the best advice to help you live your life with dentures. In addition to this professional advice, here are a few things you may expect to experience while adjusting to dentures.
Dentures take some getting used to full dentures, but with a few simple strategies up your sleeve, you can feel confident all day long.
How They Look and Feel
New wearers often report a “full-mouth” feeling, as though the dentures are too big and pushing the lips forward. This feeling will diminish as you adjust to wearing dentures. They may feel like they don’t fit properly at first. They may “gag” you or cause you to bite your cheek or tongue. If you wear an upper denture, it may take some time for your tongue to get used to the feeling of being pressed against the denture and not your palate. Don’t worry. These problems will decrease over time. Your dentist or prosthodontist may recommend the use of a denture adhesive to help you feel more confident
Because a denture is a “foreign object” in the mouth, you may produce more saliva for a while. This, too, will decrease and eventually go away. Something as simple as sucking on a mint or hard candy will encourage you to swallow more frequently, clearing excess saliva. Some soreness is also expected, usually within a few hours of putting your dentures in your mouth.
Speaking with Dentures
When you speak, the sound reaches your ears through vibrations in the bones of the jaw and skull. Wearing dentures changes and increases the sound, but this is much more noticeable to you than to anyone else.
If your dentures "click" when you speak, try to speak more slowly to avoid movements that raise and/or move your lower denture. Keeping your lower denture in place requires the ability to hold it still with the muscles of your lips, cheeks, and tongue. At first, these muscles may tend to "kick out" your denture. With time and practice, you will be able to overcome the difficulties of speaking.
To speak more confidently while wearing your dentures:
Bite and swallow before speaking. This places your dentures in position so you can speak more clearly.
Practice reading aloud.
Use a denture adhesive. Using an adhesive will help keep your dentures in place and make it easier to speak clearly.
Eating with Confidence
As a new denture wearer, you may find that chewing feels different with dentures. You also may think that food has "lost its flavour." While you are adjusting to wearing your dentures, your mind is receiving strong signals from your mouth about your dentures, which overpower the messages from your taste buds. After you are accustomed to the denture, your mind will pay less attention to your dentures and more to your taste buds.
During your adjustment time, you may have trouble sensing hot foods and drinks, which is common with new denture wearers. Be careful; you don't want to burn your mouth.
To eat more easily and enjoyably while wearing dentures:
Begin with small quantities of food cut into smaller pieces.
Chew half of the food in your mouth on the back-left side of your mouth and the other half on the back-right side. This will even out the pressure on your dentures.
Start with soft foods. Some good examples are eggs, fish, chopped meat, cooked vegetables, and puddings. After you feel more confident, try eating chewier foods, such as steak or celery.
Benefits Of Denture Adhesive For Permanent Dentures
Permanent dentures offer many benefits. They're designed to look like your natural teeth, and they tend to improve your overall appearance by improving your smile. You'll also get the appearance of teeth whitening if you keep your dentures looking their best by cleaning them daily as recommended by your dentist.
Some denture wearers find that a dental adhesive maximise their satisfaction with permanent dentures.
The benefits of using a dental adhesive include:
More satisfaction. Dental adhesives can enhance stability, which lets you bite more strongly.
More security. Dental adhesives help keep the dentures from slipping, and they can be especially helpful if you suffer from dry mouth, which reduces denture adherence.
More endurance. If you do a lot of public speaking or singing, you may appreciate the security that using a dental adhesive provides.
Some people should not use dental adhesives. If your dentures are not fitting well and you find that you need to use more adhesive to keep them in place, you should discontinue using dental adhesives until you see your dentist.
Also, discontinue dental adhesive use if you appear to be having an allergic reaction to the adhesive product, or if you are having difficulty following a consistent oral health care routine according to your dentist's instructions.
If your dentist has not evaluated your dentures recently, you may be in need of a new set, your jawbone changes and shrinks over time, so don't expect to wear the same set of dentures forever.
Getting Full Dentures
Dentists will work with you to preserve your natural teeth if at all possible, rather than extract them, but sometimes complete dentures are the only way to provide the appearance of teeth and facilitate eating and speaking.
A full denture is used when all your upper or lower teeth require to be removed or if you need to replace old dentures. The full denture will fit tightly over your gum line and jawbone.
If you have dentures fitted immediately after the removal of several teeth, the gums and bone might not adjust quickly. In that case, dentures might require refitting or even reshape after a couple of month. In some cases, your gums may need to heal and alter in shape for several months before dentures can be fitted.
Getting permanent, full dentures takes about three to six weeks. The denture-making process involves several dental appointments and follows these steps:
Impressions. Your dentist takes several impressions of your jaw and measures the space in your mouth.
Models. Your dentist makes a mould of wax or plastic in the exact shape of the denture so you can try it and make any adjustments to the colour, shape, and fit before the permanent dentures are made.
Cast. The final dentures are cast and then adjusted as necessary.
When you first receive your permanent dentures, your dentist may recommend that you wear them 24 hours a day, even while sleeping, because this is the easiest and quickest way to determine whether there are any spots that need adjustment. It’s important to ensure a good fit right away, because poorly fitting dentures can be irritating to the gums.
Once you have adjusted to the dentures, you can remove them at night to allow normal stimulation of the gum tissues by the tongue and saliva, which helps keep your gum tissue healthy.
Not everyone needs a full set of permanent dentures. A dental bridge fills a gap created by one or more missing teeth. Removable partial dentures are another option for replacing missing teeth.
There are several reasons to consider removable partial dentures. Not only can partial dentures improve your appearance, they can improve your oral health by keeping your remaining teeth in place. If you opt for a dental bridge, your dentist will fit customized crowns to the teeth on either side of the gap to be bridged. A false tooth (or teeth) called a pontic is attached to the crowns and replaces your missing tooth (or teeth).
Depending on your oral health care needs, you can choose partial dentures that are removable, but bridges are permanently cemented into place. There are three main types of bridges to suit a variety of dental restoration situations:
Traditional: This style involves placing crowns on the teeth that border the missing teeth.
Cantilever: This style is used if you only have teeth on one side of the missing tooth or teeth.
Maryland bonded: This type of bridge consists of a porcelain tooth (or teeth) in a metal framework, with wings to attach it to existing teeth.
Keeping the surrounding, supporting teeth healthy is essential to get the maximum benefit from a dental bridge, so be sure to follow a regular oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. If you practice good oral hygiene and see a dentist regularly, partial dentures can last from 5 to 15 years.
Temporary or Immediate Dentures After Tooth Removal
Immediate dentures, also called temporary dentures, provide a short-term solution to meet your dental needs while you are waiting for your permanent dentures to be ready.
If you’ve had teeth removed due to decay or gum disease and will be receiving permanent dentures, your dentist may suggest temporary or “immediate” dentures. These are dentures you can wear for the first two to three months immediately after tooth removal. They can be especially helpful for someone with a history of sensitive teeth and gums. Since the patient does not have to be without teeth while the area heals, and any remaining sensitive teeth are subject to less pressure from chewing food.
The main advantage of immediate dentures is that you don’t have to go out in public without teeth following tooth removal. An immediate denture is placed at the same visit as your tooth removal, so they serve as a bandage to control bleeding and protect gum tissue. Also, if you have immediate dentures you can start adjusting your speech to wearing the denture immediately.
On the flip side the main disadvantage of temporary dentures is that, because they’re made in advance and placed as soon as the damaged or decayed teeth are removed, the fit will not be exact. So they may require more frequent adjustments to get a good fit. Consequently, they should only be considered a temporary solution until the permanent dentures are ready.
The creation of temporary dentures may require four to five dental visits prior to tooth extraction. Temporary dentures are made using basically the same technique as a permanent denture, but because they are made in advance of any surgery, you can’t tell exactly how your mouth will look after teeth are removed. By contrast, the moulds for conventional dentures are made once the gum tissues have healed following any tooth extractions, which takes about six to eight weeks. During this time, the gum tissues will shrink and so the fit of temporary dentures will change.
You may find that both temporary and permanent dentures take some getting used to. Don’t worry if the dentures feel loose at first—your cheek and tongue muscles will need to adjust to them. And don’t worry if you notice more saliva in your mouth than usual, or if you notice minor soreness or irritation. These problems usually resolve on their own. But if you experience major discomfort that doesn’t seem to improve, see your dentist to have the dentures adjusted.
Temporary Dentures Cost
There is an added cost associated with immediate dentures, but when you’re trying to determine what dentures cost and how to pay for them, remember that you have several options.
Immediate dentures cost more than conventional dentures because more time goes into preparing them. There are several advantages that may make them worth the cost.
Most dentists take major credit cards and some offer financing plans that let patients pay for major procedures, such as tooth removal and dentures, over time with low monthly payments. Ask your dentist about financing. Also, if you know in advance that you want to get dentures, you may be able to set aside money in a flexible spending account or health care savings account to help cover the cost of dentures.
Not everyone is a good candidate for immediate dentures. Cost can be a prohibiting factor, or your dentist may advise against immediate dentures depending on your general health and oral health.
Dental Grills: The Bad Things
Dental grills, also known as “grillz,” have become popular among some teens and adults due to their popularity among celebrities, especially rap musicians. Grills are decorative covers that snap over one or more teeth. They are usually made of gold, silver or other precious metals. But less expensive grills are often made from base metals that can cause irritation or an allergic reaction.
There are no long-term studies of dental grills, so there are no data about long-term safety or about problems resulting from long-term wear.
Grills can promote plaque build-up and tooth decay because food particles and bacteria may build up between the teeth and the grill. A grill may also cause abrasion of the teeth that border it. Excessive wearing of grills may discolour teeth, too, so grill fans may need to whiten teeth when they decide to stop wearing the grill.
Anyone who wears a dental grill should be especially attentive to dental hygiene, and follow a consistent routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Also, be sure to remove the grill before eating and rinse it often to remove bacteria and food particles. Talk to your dentist before getting a dental grill and be sure to find out how best to reduce the risk of bacterial build-up and other complications.
These days, many good alternatives are available. Dental implants and dentures are the most common options.
If you are missing teeth and your gums and jaw are healthy, you may benefit from dental implants, which are replacement teeth that are implanted surgically into the jawbone. With good oral hygiene, dental implants can last for 20 years or more without the need for replacement. Dental implants are often a popular choice for people who have only one or two teeth missing, but they can be an alternative to dentures if you have several missing teeth.
Dental implants are more like natural teeth than dentures. A dental implant looks like a cylinder or screw and it serves as an artificial replacement for the root of a missing tooth. Implants are made of titanium or other material that won’t cause an adverse reaction when they are attached to the jawbone and gum tissue.
To benefit from dental implants, you must be in good health (aside from missing teeth) and have a fully developed and healthy jawbone - healthy gums and a healthy jawbone are needed to support the implants.
The process of getting a dental implant takes several months to complete, and it involves these three phases:
Placing the implant. First, you undergo surgery to have the implant placed in your jaw, where it is covered over with gum tissue and allowed to integrate into the jawbone for three to six months.
Attaching the post. Your dentist attaches a post to the implant and the gum tissue is allowed to grow up around it. In some cases, the implant and post are placed simultaneously. Whether or not they are placed at the same time, the combination implant and post serves as an anchor for the replacement tooth.
Crown attachment. Your dentist attaches a customized crown to the implant post.
If you’re healthy and your dentist determines that you’re a good candidate for implants, he or she will schedule the procedure to take place either at the dentist’s office under local anaesthesia or at a hospital under general anaesthesia, depending on the patient’s particular dental health needs and the amount of surgery that is required.
But implants aren’t a good choice for everyone. Pregnant women and people with chronic illness or immunosuppression (due to the increased risk of infection during surgery), children (because their jawbones are still developing) and people who grind or clench their teeth (this habit can put too much pressure on implants) are not good candidates for dental implants.
Keep in mind that the surgery to place dental implants takes several hours, and more than one procedure may be needed. So anyone who is at increased risk for infection may not want to choose dental implants.
The main advantages to dental implants vs. dentures include a more natural ability to eat and speak, and there is no need to remove dentures or worry about denture repair. But it is important to see a dentist and dental hygienist regularly to be sure your implants are in good condition and to follow a consistent oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily interdental cleaning.
Things To Consider To Keep Dentures In Top Shape
Plaque can form on dentures, just like natural teeth. If they’re not removed every day, your dentures may look less white and bright. It is also important to clean your dentures with a denture brush and soak them in a cleanser solution daily to avoid odour.
Your dentures will last longer and fit better if you take proper care of them. Keep these points in mind to keep your dentures in top shape:
Clean dentures daily. Brush your dentures each day the same way that you would brush your teeth, just with a few differences:
Clean your dentures over a sink filled with water to avoid damage if you drop them.
Rinse dentures thoroughly in warm water to remove any loose food particles. Rinse your dentures with water after each meal.
Skip the toothpaste. Many commercial types of toothpaste can damage dentures.
Use a denture cleanser. (Conventional toothpaste, bleach, vinegar and soap are not designed for denture cleaning and could, in some cases, cause damage. Scratched dentures will harbor unsightly plaque bacteria, causing denture odour. Harsh products like bleach may even turn the pink parts of your dentures white.)
Moisten a denture brush (not a soft-bristle toothbrush) to clean all surfaces of your denture gently. Brushing too hard can damage any plastic or metal parts. Rinse and brush in clean, warm water.
Brush your gums, tongue and natural teeth with a fluoride toothpaste before reinserting your dentures. This will help remove plaque from your teeth, stimulate circulation in your mouth and help maintain good oral health.
Rinse with a mouthwash after brushing to give your mouth a refreshed feeling
You can buy specialized denture cleaners for soaking dentures, but soaking is not a substitute for brushing—you need to brush the dentures to remove plaque
Treat dentures right. Fill the sink with water or place a folded towel in it when handling your dentures, so you don’t break them if they should fall into the sink. When you aren’t wearing your dentures, let them soak in cool water or a denture cleaning solution to keep them from drying out. Be careful of cleaning solutions if your dentures have mental attachments—the solutions could cause the metal to tarnish. And don’t soak dentures in hot water—they could warp.
Remove your dentures (full or partial) every night. This allows the gum tissue beneath them a chance to rest. Follow the following steps:
Swish your mouth with warm water or a mouthwash.
Fill the sink with warm water to avoid breaking the dentures if they are dropped.
Remove your top denture by placing your thumb against your front teeth and press upward and outward toward your nose.
Remove your lower denture by slowly pulling on it while applying a rocking motion.
If you take care of your dentures, you should be able to use them for five to seven years before you need to replace them. It’s important to see your dentist every six months to check the condition and fit of your dentures and to look for any signs of irritation or gum disease so they can be treated immediately.
However, even with the best care, natural changes in your mouth may make it necessary to have your dentures remade after a number of years. The bony ridge that your dentures rest on shrinks over time. Dentures should be refitted every few years by relining or rebasing, and new dentures should be made every five to 10 years. Report any change in the way your dentures work or feel to your dentist or prosthodontist. Your oral care professional can tell you whether an adjustment, a relining or new dentures are needed.