Dentures are removable oral appliances for those with missing teeth in the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both jaws. Whether one or more teeth have been lost because of decay, accident, or disease, dentures allow patients to continue smiling, eating, talking, and living life normally.
Some denture basics
There are a number of benefits of dentures such as improved chewing function, enhanced appearance, improved speech function, better nutrition, and boosting patient confidence.
Dental professionals craft dentures from materials such as acrylic, resin, nylon, metal and porcelain, and there are several different options that are right for every patients’ oral needs.
Types of dentures include:
- Full: Also known as a “complete denture,” this option is considered to be the most traditional type of denture and is usually removed at night for cleaning and to rest the gums. This appliance replaces an entire arch of missing teeth and is made of artificial teeth and a gum-colored base. It rests atop gums and relies on the roof of a patients’ mouth or lower jawbone ridge for support.
A special type of of glue, denture adhesive, is often used to keep the appliance in place.
- Partial: Unlike full dentures which are used for an entire arch of missing teeth, partial dentures are used for several or most of your teeth in one or both jaws. Like full dentures, this option relies on gums and underlying bone for support, however use special clasps that hook around remaining natural teeth for additional stability.
- Immediate: Rather than go with missing teeth, this type of denture is worn immediately after a patient has extractions before they can wear dentures. These appliances may just be temporary until a patient is healed and can have something more permanent.
- Implant-supported: These dentures don’t rest on a patient’s jawbridge ridge and gums for support, but rather attach to dental implants, which are small threaded posts placed in a jawbone to replace missing teeth roots. Implant-supported dentures are removable like traditional dentures and have become a popular option because they typically offer more stability because they snap onto embedded implants. For this reason, denture adhesive is not needed to secure the appliance.
This option is recommended by many dentists for those who don’t want a removable oral appliance.
Dentists will work with their patients to determine the best appliance for their unique situation. Factors that will be considered include: how many teeth are missing, how long the teeth have been missing, the preference for a removable or nonremovable appliance, lifestyle, density and volume of your jawbone, and the relationship between the upper and lower jaws.
Maintenance and care tips for living with dentures
While dentures allow people to replace missing teeth, they also have some challenges.
For example, denture wearers often deal with oral appliances that shift, wobble, or slip out of place when taking or chewing. Additionally, it is natural for the jawbone to gradually sink following tooth loss, which could lead to facial collapse and sunken-in cheeks.
Unpolished denture surfaces (as well as orthodontic appliances) can also lead to stomatitis, which is the growth and buildup of Candida and other bacteria in your mouth.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain and care for your dentures:
In the beginning:
- Pay attention to pain when wearing dentures. It’s common to feel slight discomfort in the beginning, however prolonged irritation could mean something is not right such as ill-fitting or slipping dentures
- If you experience too much saliva in your mouth, which is common early on when hosting a new foreign object, try swallowing more enjoying a mint or hard candy
- Wear your dentures as often as possible so that your mouth muscles can get used to keeping them in place
- Rinse with warm salt water to avoid mouth sores or pain
- Be diligent about your daily cleaning routine: Cleanliness is CRUCIAL. Ensure that dentures are kept perfectly spotless using a soft brush to hit all surfaces. Clean the gums, tongue, and remaining teeth (if applicable) and brush/clean dentures after meals
- Maintain a balanced diet and good overall health, both of which impacts your oral health
- Remove and soak your dentures in a cleaning solution overnight, which will help remove plaque or stubborn stains. It’s recommended that patients keep their dentures out for at least 8 hours a day to give gums a break and for proper cleaning.
- Use denture adhesive to keep your appliances from slipping or moving around, while avoiding abrasive materials and harsh chemicals
- Avoid hot water and abrasive materials
- Quit smoking, which encourages the growth of oral bacteria
- Understand and practice proper denture handling and care techniques
- When traveling or on the go, make sure to always have a denture care kit with essential supplies
- See your dentist regularly to ensure that appliances are fitting correctly. Get in touch with us right away should you experience loose-fitting dentures, hurting or pinching in your gums, hear clicking when speaking, have damage or discoloration, or if your appliance is more than 10 years old.
Let’s discuss your options!
Here at Wilton Smiles we’ll work closely with you to ensure that you adjust easily to life with dentures. We can also discuss other alternatives like dental implants that may suit your lifestyle and unique needs.
Thankfully you have great options should you lose or currently have teeth missing. Get in touch with us today and schedule an appointment!