The Fitting and Care of Dentures

As we age, our teeth gradually deteriorate. Ageing teeth become brittle and crack or chip more readily. Deep decay adds to the problem.

If present, severe gum disease (called periodontitis) may damage gums and jawbone, leading to tooth loss. If teeth are badly affected by wear, trauma, decay or gum disease, your dentist may suggest extraction as the best treatment option.

Even at a relatively young age, some people have extensive loss of teeth. When many teeth are lost or extracted, a denture may have to be fitted to maintain normal chewing, bite (occlusion), speech and the appearance of the upper and lower jaws.

Millions of people worldwide wear dentures. With today’s technology, they look more natural and fit better than ever before. For many people, dentures vastly improve their oral health and appearance.

A denture is called a prosthesis, and the fitting of a denture is called denture prosthodontics; you may hear your dentist use these terms.



Types of Dentures

Partial denture:

A partial denture is made to fill the space left by a few miss ing teeth. To hold the partial denture in position, clasps are used to secure the denture to nearby natural teeth.

Full denture:

A full denture is made when all the natural teeth are missing. It is fitted to replace the upper teeth, lower teeth, or both.

Immediate denture:

The dentist inserts an immediate denture at the same appointment as the teeth are extracted. The advantage is that the patient avoids a period without teeth.

Overdenture:

An over—denture is a denture that fits:

Remaining teeth or dental implants act as anchors to secure it in place. Dentures can be made of acrylic or metal. Your dentist will advise you about the best material for you.


Making and Fitting the Dentures

Dentures are composed of artificial teeth bonded to a plastic base.The dentist makes an impression of the dental arch and remaining teeth (if any), using a special impression material. The colour and shape of the artificial teeth can be closely matched to your natural teeth.

The dentist will help you with these decisions. The dental laboratory uses the impressions and the dentist’s specifications to make the dentures.

Your dentist will advise you about how long to wear your new dentures each day. A few days or weeks are needed to become accustomed to the dentures.

Over the first few days:

 

Denture Adjustment

After some time, the denture may feel loose and awkward. Your dentist can adjust the fit. This is done by placing an inner lining in the denture. Several adjustments may be required before the final fit is satisfactory for the longer term.

Over-dentures and partial dentures usually need fewer adjustments than full dentures. People who have retained some natural teeth usually have less gum shrinkage and fewer changes in the underlying jawbone, so their dentures may retain a good fit for longer.

Loose dentures can cause irritation and ulcers of the gums that are painful and may become infected. If your dentures become loose, see your dentist to have them adjusted.

Do not try to adjust your own denture. It has been carefully made to fit your mouth. Home repairs will end up causing more harm than good.

Cleaning Your Dentures

Clean your dentures after each meal or at least twice a day. Remove them, and rinse away food particles with warm or cold water. Some people also
like to use a mouthwash.

If you have a partial denture, be sure that you thoroughly clean it to reduce the risk of losing more teeth. Your dentist can show you how to use a toothbrush and dental floss correctly so you can efficiently remove food particles and plaque from remaining teeth.

Brush both the inside and outside surface of your dentures with a soft toothbrush and unperformed, mild soap or other approved denture cleaner. Many good products are available in pharmacies and supermarkets, It is best to avoid the use of standard tooth pastes as many brands are too abrasive.

Do NOT use:


 

Daily Living with Dentures

Insertion and removal

Your dentist will show you how to place and remove your dentures. Be sure you can do this properly before you leave the surgery. Never use force to remove a
denture.

Comfort and adaptation

Even if you have worn dentures before, your new dentures may feel uncomforted able at first. Your mouth needs time to adapt to them.

Eating with dentures

Learning to eat with dentures takes practice and time. After the first few days of eating soft foods, you will want a wider range of foods. Cut food into small
pieces, take small mouthfuls, and chew slowly. This helps to keep the dentures in place.

Avoid biting with the front teeth because this can cause the dentures to tip and may place excess pressure on the gums. Instead, bite with the canine teeth, the pointed teeth next to the front teeth.

Until you get used to sensing the temperature of hot food, treat hot food with caution. Avoid sticky food (such as toffee) and sharp or hard food, such as
nuts or raw carrots.

As you gain confidence with your dentures, widen your diet to ensure healthy nutrition. Your dentist can advise you on maintaining good nutrition.

Speech

After the first week or two, most people find that dentures do not interfere significantly with speech. Sometimes certain words may be difficult to pronounce at first. It may help to repeat them aloud in front of a mirror.

If your dentures “click" when you talk, try to speak more slowly. If your denture slips when you speak, bite down gently to reposition it and swallow. Your tongue and cheek muscles will soon learn to keep it in place, If you have a persistent problem with speech, inform your dentist.

Denture adhesive

Denture adhesives can give you added confidence that your denture will not slip out of place. Your dentist can advise you about which denture adhesives are likely to work well for you. Denture adhesive is not the answer to a poorly fitting denture. If it doesn't fit well, see your dentist.

Soreness

If soreness develops under a denture, call your dentist for an appointment. The denture probably needs to be adjusted. If the soreness worsens, remove the denture for at least part of the day. Before your appointment, wear the dentures for several hours. This will help the dentist determine where adjustment is needed.

Oral hygiene

Be careful to maintain good hygiene of your mouth. This is best done with a wet towelling cloth, face washer or similar material.

Simply rub the gum tissue over which the denture fits, and also rub the top of the tongue. Your dentist will show you if you are in doubt.

Protect against breakage

Dentures are delicate and break easily. When cleaning a denture, hold it over a towel or a basin of water, to cushion the fall if you drop it. Brush them gently.

If you break a denture or damage the clasp of a partial denture, stop wearing it. Telephone your dentist for an appointment.

Do NOT glue the parts together because the wrong glue will permanently damage, or even ruin, the denture.

Do not bend or modify a clasp of a partial denture in any way as this could break it.

Overnight care

You should discuss with your dentist the advantages of removing your dentures before going to bed. Ideally, the dentures should be removed as this allows the gum tissues a chance to rest. Removal of full dentures also prevents grinding and clenching of the teeth which increase wear on them and other complications.

After cleaning the dentures throe roughly, place them in a special cleaning solution or water. Dentures should never be allowed to dry out as this can cause warpage.

Check-ups

Regular dental check—ups are a must for all denture wearers. Your dentist will examine your mouth to make sure your denture fits well and check any teeth that remain.

Visit your dentist immediately if you have sore gums or if a denture chips or breaks. Over time, dentures need to be remade due to normal wear.

 

Instructions for Immediate Dentures

For the fitting of immediate dentures, the dentist takes impressions of the remaining teeth and dental arch while the teeth are still in place. After the teeth have been extracted, the immediate dentures are placed in the mouth while you are still in the dental surgery. This helps to keep the swelling of gums to a minimum.

Following extractions, rapid changes in the gums take place as the gum tissue and jawbone heal to form a firm base for the denture.

During the healing period, you may need to visit the dentist several times for small adjustments. As immediate dentures cannot be tested in the mouth before the teeth are removed, the fit and appearance of the dentures may need to be adjusted.

The gums and jawbone take about three months to heal completely. During healing, the gums shrink and the fit of the immediate denture becomes loose. It then needs relining or possibly remaking. This is a good time to make changes to the aesthetics of the denture, if you wish. The old immediate denture can be kept as an emergency spare.

Important points about immediate dentures

 

Possible Complications of Dentures