A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals. Having a denture improves chewing ability and speech, and provides support for facial muscles. It will greatly enhance the facial appearance and smile.
TYPES OF DENTURES
There are two common types of dentures:
- Complete dentures
- Partial dentures
Complete or full dentures are made when all of your natural teeth are missing. You can have a full denture on your upper or lower jaw, or both.
Complete dentures are called “conventional” or “immediate” depending on when they are made and when they are inserted into the mouth.
- Immediate dentures are inserted immediately after the removal of the remaining teeth. To make this possible, the dentist takes measurements and makes the models of the patient`s jaws during a preliminary visit. An advantage of immediate dentures is that the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.
- A conventional denture can then be made once the tissues have healed. Healing may take at least 6-8 weeks.
An overdenture is a removable denture that fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth or implants. The natural teeth must be prepared to provide stability and support for the denture.
A partial denture is suitable for those who have some natural teeth remaining, which fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position.
Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. Devices used to attach removable partial dentures to your natural teeth are called metal clasps or precision attachments.
Precision attachments are generally more aesthetic than metal clasps and are nearly invisible.
Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments. Partials with precision attachments generally cost more than those with metal clasps.
HOW DENTURES ARE MADE
The denture process takes about one month and five appointments:
- Initial diagnosis is done.
- An impression and a wax bite are made to determine vertical dimensions and proper jaw position.
- “Wax-try-in” of the denture is made at the dental lab.
- “Wax-try-in” is placed to assure proper color, shape and fit.
- Denture is made, polished and ready for wear.
- The patient`s final denture is placed, followed by any minor adjustments.
GETTING USED TO YOUR DENTURES
For the first few weeks, a new denture may feel awkward or bulky. However, your mouth will eventually become accustomed to wearing it. Inserting and removing the denture will require some practice. Your denture should easily fit into place. Never force the partial denture into position by biting down. This could bend or break the clasps.
At first, you may be asked to wear your denture all the time. Although this may be temporarily uncomfortable, it is the quickest way to identify those denture parts that may need adjustment. If the denture puts too much pressure on a particular area, that spot will become sore. Your denture can be adjusted to fit more comfortably. After making new adjustments, you may need to take the denture out of your mouth before going to bed and replace it in the morning.
Start out by eating soft foods that are cut into small pieces. Chew on both sides of the mouth to keep even pressure on the denture. Avoid sticky or hard foods, including gum.
CARE FOR YOUR DENTURES
TIP: It’s best to have a folded towel underneath or a sink of water as a cushion when handling your denture, just in case you accidentally drop it.
- Brush the denture daily to remove food deposits and plaque, and keep it from becoming permanently stained.
- Use denture brush and avoid using a brush with hard bristles, which can damage the denture. Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture`s metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid to clean dentures is also acceptable.
- Other types of household cleaners and many toothpastes are too abrasive and should not be used for cleaning dentures.
- Keep the denture moist or it could lose its proper shape.
- At night, the denture should be placed in soaking solution or water. However, if the appliance has metal attachments, they could be tarnished if placed in soaking solution.
- Daily brush your gums, tongue and palate with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures whether full or partial.
- It is essential to maintain good oral hygiene as this removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Selecting a balanced diet for proper nutrition is also important for maintaining a healthy mouth.
Over time, adjusting the denture may be necessary. As you age, your mouth naturally changes as well, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, resulting in a loose-fitting denture.
Loose dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. Dentures that do not fit properly can be adjusted. Plan a visit to dental office and avoid using a do-it-yourself kit to adjust your dentures, as this 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 no longer fits properly, breaks, cracks or chips, or if one of the teeth becomes loose, see your dentist immediately. In many cases, dentists can make necessary adjustments or repairs, often on the same day, however complicated repairs may require that the denture be sent to a special dental laboratory. If your denture shows signs of significant wear, it may need to be replaced.
With your new dentures, eating will take some patience and practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the dentures from tipping. As you become accustomed to chewing, add other foods until you return to your normal diet. Be cautious with hot or hard foods and sharp-edged bones or shells.
There are some concerns about how dentures will affect one’s speech. Pronouncing certain words definitely may require some practice. Try reading out loud and speaking troublesome words repeatedly. If your dentures “click” while you are talking, speak more slowly. You may find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile. Reposition the dentures by gently biting down and swallowing.
If a speaking problem persists, consult your dentist.
Denture adhesives can provide additional retention for well-fitting dentures. Denture adhesives are not the solution for old, ill-fitting dentures. A poorly fitting denture, which causes constant irritation over a long period, may contribute to the development of sores. These dentures may need a reline or need to be replaced. If your dentures begin to feel loose, or cause pronounced discomfort, consult with your dentist immediately.