The Fitting and Care of Dentures

As we age, our teeth gradually deteriorate. Aging teeth become brittle and crack or chip more. Deep decay adds to the problem. Periodontitis may damage gums and jawbone leading to tooth loss.

When many teeth are lost or extracted, a denture may have to be fitted to maintain normal chewing, bite, speech, and the appearance of the upper and lower jaws.

Millions of people worldwide wear dentures. They vastly improve oral health and appearance.

Types of dentures

  • Partial denture – made only to fill the space left a by a few missing teeth
  • Full denture – made when all natural teeth are missing
  • Immediate denture – inserted immediately after teeth are extracted
  • Over-denture – a denture that fits over the top of remaining teeth, over tooth roots, or by attachment to dental implants. The remaining teeth or dental implants act as anchors to secure it in place.

Dentures can be made of acrylic or metal.

Making and Fitting the Dentures

Your dentist makes an impression of the dental arch and remaining teeth (if any) using special impression material. The colour and shape of the teeth on the denture can be closely matched with your natural teeth.

Your dentist will advise you about how long to wear your new dentures each day. Over the first few days the denture may feel tight and uncomfortable or bulky. The gums may feel sore and some people experience a gagging sensation. There may be an increase in saliva in your mouth and your speech may be affected but will improve. You will need to eat soft foods for a while.

Denture Adjustment

After some time your dentures may feel loose and awkward. Your dentist can adjust the fit. Several adjustments may be required before the finat fit is satisfactory for the longer term. Do not do your own adjustments at home. This can cause 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 water. Remove (or mouthwash) Brush both the inside and outside surface with a soft toothbrush and dish washing liquid or other approved denture cleaner. Don’t use standard toothpastes as they are too abrasive.

Do not use boiling water, abrasives, detergents, bleaches, methylated spirits, and other strong chemicals of any kind.

Daily Living with Dentures

  • Your dentist will teach you how to insert and remove your dentures. Never use force to remove them.
  • Cut food into small pieces and chew slowly. Bite with your canines and never your front teeth as this may cause the dentures to tip and place excess pressure on gums. Avoid sticky food such as toffee and sharp or hard food such as nuts or raw carrots.
  • You may have speech problems at first but after one or two weeks they will go away as you get used to your dentures.
  • Denture adhesives can give you more confidence that your denture will not slip out of place.
  • If soreness develops under a denture, call your dentist for an appointment.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Rub the gum tissue and top of your tongue with a tooth brush. Remove (soft, wet towel)
  • If you break your denture, stop wearing it and call your dentist for an appointment.
  • Remove (Ideally,) Dentures should be removed and kept in a glass of water during sleep to allow gum tissues to rest.
  • Regular dental check-ups are a must.

Instructions for Immediate Dentures

  • While the local anaesthetic is still effective in the hours after extraction, be careful not to bite your tongue, lips, or cheek.
  • Do not drink hot fluids for at least four hours after the extraction.
  • Your dentist will give you instructions as to when you should remove your dentures for cleaning. Usually, they must be left in place for 24 hours.
  • If bleeding occurs in the early stages, bite firmly on a clean handkerchief for 20 minutes.
  • Eat soft foods.
  • If the denture becomes loose, put it back into place immediately if you can do so without discomfort or use of force. Keep pressing it into place with your tongue. If you are unable to replace it, rinse it and keep in a wet plastic bag and make an appointment at once.
  • Five hours after extraction, rinse your mouth gently, leaving the dentures in. Use salt and lukewarm water. Do so over the next few days.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Be certain to attend your review appointment for adjustments to be made.

Possible Complications of Dentures

  • It may take a while for dentures to feel comfortable
  • If you have both upper and lower dentures, more time is needed to become accustomed to lower denture
  • Sometimes it may take several months before speech returns to normal
  • There can be additional costs when gums shrink more than expected. The denture may have to be relined or remade
  • There may be a change in facial shape
  • The flow of saliva may increase. This is temporary
  • Dentures cannot perfectly reproduce your natural teeth
  • It is not uncommon to become discouraged while getting used to your dentures
  • Dentures need to be relined or remade every three to seven years
  • If dentures are not removed every day and cleaned properly, a fungal infection can develop in the gums
  • Over time, badly fitting dentures can cause a chronic inflammation of the gum tissue called denture stomatitis
  • If you have dry mouth, denture retention may be difficult