The first recorded use of a form of denture is over 2000 years ago. The quality and comfort of dentures has developed over the years and is now better than ever. Patients often have many questions regarding this treatment if they are about to receive treatment or even if they have been wearing them for a while.
What is the purpose of dentures?
Missing teeth are replaced for reasons ranging from health to improving smile aesthetics. Teeth support the lips and cheeks, meaning that any missing teeth can lead to sagging of the facial muscles. This may give your face a more aged, sunken look and affect your ability to speak and eat. Having a full or complete denture will provide the necessary support for the facial muscles and restore teeth functionality and aesthetics.
What are dentures?
They are a treatment for missing teeth that allow patients to speak and eat normally. A complete denture will replace all the teeth in the lower or upper jaw, while a partial denture will fill in spaces left by fewer missing teeth. It is fixed to the surrounding teeth with either clasps or mechanisms known as precision attachments.
What are they made of?
The base or ‘plate’ of a denture is constructed from either metal or plastic (acrylic). In most cases, the teeth will also be constructed using acrylic and can be custom-made to match the shade of your natural teeth.
Will they change my appearance?
Dentures can be created to match the colour of your natural teeth to ensure that there is not a drastic change in your appearance. They will also be able to ‘fill out’ your face and improve the aesthetics of your smile.
Will I be able to eat normally?
Eating will take some getting used to and you should begin by sticking to soft foods and cutting them into small pieces. Chew the food slowly and make sure that you use both sides of the mouth simultaneously to stop the denture from shifting. In time you will be able to return to eating other foods and return to a normal diet.
Will my speech be affected?
You may need to practice pronouncing certain words and the best way to do this is by reading aloud and repeating any words that cause you any difficulty. With time you will eventually adjust to speaking with dentures and be able to speak normally.
If the denture slips when you smile, cough or laugh, you should move it back into the correct position by biting down gently and then swallowing. If the problem persists you should make an appointment with your dentist.
Will they affect my sense of taste?
Many people worry that their sense of taste will be affected by wearing dentures, but the taste buds are primarily on the tongue and your teeth will not affect them too much. During the initial stages they may have some impact and impede your faculty for sensing hot drinks and food. In such cases, you may wish to avoid these to lower the risk of burning yourself.
How long do I need to wear them?
For the first couple of days your dentist will advise you to wear the dentures nearly all the time, which will allow you to grow accustomed to wearing them. Once the adjustment period is over you will be advised to remove the dentures before bedtime, giving your gums some respite and promoting oral health. You must clean the appliance thoroughly before bed in the same way you would normal teeth.
How should I care for my dentures?
Good dental hygiene is essential and you should brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft-bristled brush and ensuring that you clean your tongue and gums. Wearers of dentures should brush carefully twice a day in order to avoid gum disease and tooth decay.
What are Immediate Dentures?
Standard dentures are constructed and fitted once the natural teeth are removed and after the tissue has healed. Immediate Dentures, however, are fitted as soon as the teeth have been taken out. The preliminary visit to the dentist will consist of your dentist taking measurements and creating an impression of your mouth.
One of the advantages of Immediate Dentures is that while the tissues are healing the patient does not need to go without teeth. It is possible, however, for gums and bone to shrink, particularly for six months after the teeth have been taken out. In this case, the appliance may need to be relined or replaced to correct the fit.
How will the dentures feel?
- For the first few weeks you may feel some discomfort.
- They may also feel loose at first, although the muscles in the tongue and cheek will soon start to hold them in position.
- It is fairly common for patients to experience mild pain or irritation during the adjustment period.
- You may also experience a decrease in saliva flow, but this and other side-effects will diminish after the adjustment period.
If they continue to feel loose, painful or uncomfortable, you should make an appointment with your dentist. It is vital that you do not remove them before the appointment as the dentist will need to pinpoint what the problem is in order to solve it.
How do I maintain them?
Dentures are extremely delicate and can shatter if they are dropped. When you are cleaning the teeth you should do it over a sink full of water or a folded towel. If they are not being worn they should be kept in a container with enough water to keep them effectively covered. They should be cleaned every day in the same way as normal teeth to ensure plaque and food debris are properly removed.
Thorough brushing also prevents staining and will generally promote good oral health. Soft bristled toothbrushes can be used but there are specialist brushes available for denture cleaning. Hard bristled brushes run the risk of damaging the appliance and should be avoided. Denture cleaners are also useful in removing stains and leaving you with a clean, fresh feel.
Can they be re-polished?
It is possible to re-polish your dentists if they may grow rough and dull after a period of time. You should take them back to the dentist if this happens.
Will they need replacing?
Fake teeth can become worn over time and may need adjusting if there is a change in the shape of the mouth. The alignment of the jaw can be affected if the ridges of the bone or the gums start to shrink or recede.
If the dentures become loose it is likely to lead to infections, sores and general discomfort. Eating and speech can also be hindered by dentures which do not fit perfectly. It is therefore vital that these problems be addressed.
How often will I need dental appointments?
It is recommended that you visit the dentist every six months for check-ups and professional teeth cleaning. This is to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy. If full dentures are being worn you should check with your dentist to see how many appointments they recommend.