What are dentures?
A denture is a removable appliance and can be full or partial, depending on whether you are replacing just a few missing teeth or all missing teeth. Dentures are made of artificial acrylic teeth, colored to match the ones you already have, and set into a plate.
Conventionally, transitioning to full dentures requires that all teeth be pulled and the mouth allowed to heal for a few months. This allows the gums and bone structure to tighten up before fitting and building the appliance. Alternatively, dentures can be fitted and placed more immediately, which saves the waiting time during which the user has no teeth. This presents a challenge in that sometimes the dentures need to be refitted or even remade as the gum and bone structure changes.
What do dentures feel like?
Until you develop muscle memory, your new dentures may feel unnatural in your mouth. Minor irritation will usually subside in a few days or so. Your tongue and cheek muscles will eventually learn how to keep the denture in place for greater comfort. If your mouth gets sores from the irritation, don’t hesitate to go back to your dentist to check the source of the irritation.
How will I eat, speak and look with dentures?
Just as with any new habit, you will have to retrain yourself how to eat, speak, and compose your expression. Begin slowly, taking small bites of soft food and chewing carefully. Keep food evenly on both sides in your mouth so the appliance stays centered in place. You will be able to add more variety to your diet as you learn to use your denture.
You may be concerned about how dentures might affect the way you taste. It may take a few days to get your mouth used to combining taste sensation with denture sensation, but eventually it will all feel and taste normal again. Just be careful as you try foods of extreme temperatures, so you don’t get burned.
To learn how to speak with your denture, try reading the newspaper aloud over breakfast. When you encounter challenging words, practice them several times. Your tongue may push the appliance out of position, so be prepared to close your mouth and push it back into place.
Look in the mirror while you get used to adjusting your appliance and practice the least distracting way of doing this, and you will be on your way to developing confidence with your dentures. You may also find that your new appliance changes the shape of your face by filling in gaps that have been there previously, and that this change actually improves your appearance.
Don’t get discouraged by slow progress at the beginning. With practice, you will soon find your new normal and be eating, talking, and making the same faces as always.
How do I care for my dentures?
At the beginning, try to wear your appliance as much as possible so your mouth can get used to the feeling. Later on, you will transition to wearing them only during waking hours. The rest will help your mouth say healthy.
Continue to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your gums and remaining teeth, if you still have some, twice a day as always to stimulate proper blood flow in your mouth. Also clean the appliance properly whenever you remove it for sleeping, to prevent bacteria buildup. Use a soft brush, and possibly a fizz cleaner to help with food stains. It should be stored in water when not in use, to prevent drying out and cracking.
How long will these dentures last?
Dentures themselves can last a long time if cared for properly. However they are subject to wear and tear. Also, your mouth shape can change over time, leaving gaps between the denture and your mouth resulting in denture becoming loose and slightly uncomfortable.
Assuming you have cared for them and have been able to keep them adjusted to fit, your dentures will eventually lose their shine with use. The dentist can easily add life to them by polishing and making them look almost new again.
Denture wearing definitely requires a big adjustment, but you and your dentist can work together as the team to make the transition as smooth as possible. Dentists request to see their patients every six months for cleaning and check-ups, and denture wearers are no exception. After the initial adjustment period, make sure to keep your regular appointments so you can be confident in your smile.