If missing some, or all of our teeth, our oral health related quality of life can be compromised. One alternative to replacing these lost or missing teeth is to have dentures manufactured and fitted by your dentist.
Dentures are a cost-effective replacement option for teeth lost due to tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma. If you have experienced loss of some or all of your teeth, it is likely your dentist will talk to you about dentures to replace these teeth.
Dentures are artificial substitutes for missing natural teeth and adjacent tissues and are a temporary or permanent tooth replacement option for people of all ages. They are typically made of acrylic resin and occasionally lightweight metal (mainly cobalt chrome) and are designed to look like your natural teeth.
There are three main types of dentures:
- A full denture is worn by patients who have lost all their teeth in either the upper or lower jaws, or both. The denture will replace your missing natural teeth and sit on the gum ridges, providing support to your lips and cheeks as well as maintaining the distance between your nose, mouth and chin. By choosing not to replace the missing teeth, this distance can become smaller over time.
- A partial denture is used when a person still has one or more natural teeth remaining. The denture will replace the missing teeth and may be held in place by clasps that surround the remaining teeth. It may have an acrylic resin or metallic cobalt-chrome base. Your dentist may discuss these material options with you when planning for a denture.
- A removable implant-retained denture is an alternative to the standard full lower denture. These dentures are partially supported and held in place by dental implants retained within the jawbone and partially supported by the gums. This denture can still be removed from the mouth by the person wearing it.
You should remove both full and partial dentures daily to clean them as well as at night-time, when sleeping.
Custom made for you
Dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth by your dentist or dental prosthetist. However, as with a new pair of shoes, even the best made denture/s will feel a little irritating at first as you adjust to how they fit and feel within your mouth. You may need to return to your dentist or prosthetist for minor adjustments.
If you are having teeth removed and need a denture, your dentist may suggest waiting a few months after the teeth have been removed so that your gums can heal and the need to adjust the finished denture is minimised.
However, if you need a denture immediately after a tooth is removed, an ‘immediate’ denture may be fitted during the same appointment that your tooth is extracted. An ‘immediate’ denture may require more follow-up appointments for it to be adjusted.
Caring for your dentures
There are four simple steps to follow to care for your dentures;
1. Brush your dentures daily
Just like natural teeth, your dentures should be brushed morning and night using a brush and non-abrasive cleaner, such as soft hand soap. Do not use toothpaste to brush your denture.
2. Soak your dentures daily
Use a denture cleaning solution to soak your dentures to remove plaque (bacteria) and disinfect your dentures.
3. Leave your dentures out at night
When sleeping, remove your dentures from your mouth and keep them in a safe, dry place. This helps to allow areas of discomfort within the mouth to heal and prevent infection in the gums beneath the denture. If your denture continues to cause you discomfort, return to your dentist or prosthetist.
4. Visit your dentist regularly
Return to your dentist or prosthetist for denture adjustments until you find it comfortable to wear. Visit the dentist regularly for general check-ups as well. Over time, the shape of your mouth can change causing your denture to no longer fit or function effectively. Your denture may need to be altered where it may be refitted or relined.
Your dentist suggested denture adhesive
Denture adhesives can include creams, pastes, strips and powders that help to keep your denture in place. They can be bought from supermarkets and pharmacies.
Adhesives help to increase the retention and stability of your denture, which can make them more comfortable to wear. The denture adhesive can reduce the pressure and friction transmitted from the denture to the underlying gums and soft tissues of the mouth. Beware, these products may not work well if you have a dry mouth due to reduced saliva production (hyposalivation).
Keeping your mouth healthy
Even though your dentures are comfortable to wear, or you no longer have your natural teeth, it is still important to visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist will check that your dentures continue to fit correctly and remain beneficial to your oral health.
At your regular check-up, your dentist can also examine the surfaces of the cheeks, tongue, gums and roof of the mouth (palate) for oral cancer and discuss any concerns you may have about your general oral health.
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