What exactly is a denture?
A denture is a replacement for permanent teeth that have been lost. Dentures are not a fixed appliance, meaning that they can be taken out of the mouth without the help of a dental professional. These dentures will take the place of any lost teeth, but they will take some time to get used to.
A dental professional can make you one of three types of dentures depending on your situation: complete, immediate, or partial. A complete denture is used when all teeth either on the upper or lower arch have been lost. Partial dentures are used in situations where only some teeth on an arch are missing.
We know you have questions.
If you are getting a full denture, you can expect to receive something that looks very natural and can be customized to your liking. A denture will fit over the ridge of bone on either arch. The area covering this ridge will be flesh colored and made of an acrylic material. If the denture is for your upper arch, the flesh colored acrylic will cover the whole roof of your mouth versus just the ridge. This will help create a palatal seal. A lower denture will look more like a horseshoe shape and will only cover the ridge leaving ample room for the tongue. Once the acrylic is made, natural looking teeth in the shade chosen by you and your dentist will be attached to give you a natural looking smile.
You and your dentist will discuss what type of denture will be best for you.
The three types of dentures you may discuss are:
Full permanent denture
A full, permanent denture will be placed after the loss or extraction of teeth on an arch after the hard (bone) and soft (gum) tissue has had time to completely heal. You may also have options as to the type of permanent denture is best for you.
Immediate dentures are used for situations where all teeth on an arch are extracted and are delivered to you on the same day. Impressions will be taken prior to the appointment for the extractions and dentures are fabricated by a laboratory. Immediate dentures keep you from having to go without teeth while waiting for the tissues to heal and waiting for the permanent denture to be made. These may have to be adjusted and relined on occasion. Remember, while wearing the immediate denture your bone and soft tissue are healing and dentures will need to be adjusted and/or relined for more comfortable wear and function.
The healing process will typically take anywhere from 4-6 months. After this time period, you will see your dentist again for the impressions and fabrication of the permanent denture which you will wear. At this time, you and your dentist will select the color, size, and any other features you would like to see in the teeth for the permanent denture.
Partial dentures are a little different from a complete denture. A partial denture is used when not all teeth on an arch are missing. Partial dentures are a removable option, just like a full denture, but are also an alternative to having implants placed. You doctor will discuss with you if a partial/partial denture is the right option for you.
How long will it take me to adjust to wearing dentures?
It may take several weeks or several months to adjust to wearing dentures. You will have to practice eating and talking with your new dentures to get used to them and feel back to normal. Dentures may feel loose, “big”, or bulky. If you have these concerns, please talk with your dentist. Wearing a denture may cause some soreness, minor irritation, or cause you to create more saliva. None of these are abnormal, however, if you do experience irritation, please see your dentist so that they can aid in adjusting the dentures.
When will I have to replace my dentures?
Dentures, even permanent dentures, will periodically need to be relined or replaced because of normal wear and tear (typically every 10 years). Your mouth will change and bone will diminish as you age. If your denture becomes loose or starts to irritate your tissue, please see your doctor. Even though you are wearing dentures, you should still see your doctor once a year for an annual check up to evaluate your tissues.
How do I care for my dentures?
- When placing or removing your dentures, make sure you have a towel or cloth to stand over in case they are dropped. Dentures are delicate and can easily break I they are dropped on to a hard surface.
- When you remove them, be sure to place them in water and a cleaning solution that is recommended by your dentist.
- Dentures will still accumulate plaque and food deposits. Be sure to continue to brush them daily with a soft toothbrush as you would with your natural teeth to help keep them from staining. Be sure to use anti-bacterial soap as toothpaste will be abrasive and cause scratching of denture, which can cause denture to harbor more bacteria.
- Continue to brush your tissues to keep them healthy and clean and stimulate circulation.
- If your dentures chip, break, or are loose, call your dentist. Please do not try to repair or adjust them without the help of a dental professional. Doing so will void any warranties on the denture.