Restoring your smile with dentures
When you are missing teeth, you might find it difficult to eat a variety of foods or speak clearly. You may even be reluctant to smile or laugh in public. Dentures can restore oral functions, such as chewing and speaking, and give you a smile that can make you proud.
TYPES OF DENTURES
Removable partial or complete dentures can be made, depending on the number of teeth that need to be replaced. Removable partial dentures typically have a metal framework beneath a plastic base, colored to look like gingival (gum) tissue. Artificial teeth are mounted into the base, and the denture often attaches to your own teeth with metal clasps.
Like removable partial dentures, complete dentures have a plastic base that supports the artificial teeth. Complete dentures provide a full set of upper or lower teeth (or both, if necessary). They can be held in the mouth with dental implants (posts placed directly into the jawbone) or by a seal that forms between the denture base and the gums with the help of saliva.
Dentists place conventional complete dentures after all of the natural teeth have been lost or removed, and the gum tissue has healed. Some patients are able to undergo denture placement immediately after having their teeth removed, without a healing period. Because immediate dentures are made before all of the teeth have been removed, the dentist will need to adjust the fit once the oral tissues have healed.
GETTING USED TO YOUR DENTURES
It may take time to learn how to easily put in your removable partial denture and take it out. Never force it into place, because doing so could damage the appliance. If you are having trouble, see your dentist. He or she may need to adjust the denture.
Likewise, it may take a few weeks before you become comfortable with complete dentures. They may feel loose until your cheeks and tongue learn to help hold them in place. Your gums also might become a little irritated at first. Talk with Dr Liggett if you have concerns about how your dentures are fitting or feeling.
Eating with dentures may take some practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew evenly on both sides of your mouth. As you become more comfortable with your dentures, slowly start adding other foods to your diet. Some foods, such as lettuce, may not be able to be eaten the same way that you did before you had dentures. Learning to eat with your front teeth will take a good bit of practice.
Speaking with new dentures also may present some challenges. You can practice by repeating difficult words or reading aloud. As with eating, take your time, and soon you will adjust to your new teeth.
CARING FOR YOUR DENTURES
Your dentures are delicate and can break, even if dropped only a few inches. When handling your dentures, stand over a folded towel or a basin of cool water—never put your dentures in hot water, as this can cause them to warp. As with natural teeth, you should brush your dentures daily to remove food particles and plaque. Brushing also can help prevent staining. Rinse your dentures before brushing to remove any loose food or debris. Because dentures can scratch easily, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a nonabrasive cleanser made for dentures to gently brush all surfaces of the appliance. Clean your mouth thoroughly too—including gums, cheeks, roof of the mouth and tongue—to remove any plaque. This can help reduce the risk of developing oral irritation and bad breath.
You may wear your dentures when sleeping, if Dr Liggett recommends it. When you’re not wearing your dentures, put them in a safe place covered in water to keep them from warping. Occasionally, denture wearers may use adhesives. Adhesives come in many forms, including creams, powders, pads/wafers, strips and liquids. If you use one of these products, read the instructions and use it exactly as directed. Dr Liggett can recommend appropriate cleansers and adhesives; look for products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. Products with the ADA Seal have been found to meet the ADA’s requirements for safety and effectiveness.
It is important to see your dentist regularly, even if you wear dentures. Dr Liggett can conduct an examination for signs of oral cancer or other oral diseases. He also can ensure that you are comfortable with your dentures over time.