What are Dentures?
Dentures are used to replace lost or missing teeth. They are made of either acrylic (plastic) or of a metal base with acrylic around where the teeth are positioned. A denture is described as ‘complete’ if it replaces all the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw, or ‘partial’ if it only replaces some of them.
All dentures are made to fit snugly over the gum, but if there are natural teeth present these may be used to help hold the denture in by using clasps around them, or even to give support to the denture by using rests on the top of them.
Dentures are a very good way of replacing many missing teeth and they help with giving support to cheeks and lips, with chewing food, and improved appearance. This is beneficial to your confidence and self-esteem.
What is involved in having Dentures?
Usually dentures can be fitted as soon as your teeth are removed so that you are not left with a gap. This is particularly important when the teeth are at the front. These are called ‘immediate’ dentures. The gums usually shrink underneath the denture especially over the first 6 months. If this happens your immediate denture may need adjusting, re-lining or in some cases replacing. Your dentist will be able to talk to you about this.
The process of making your denture involves taking impressions and measurements of your mouth. These are then sent to a dental technician who will then make the denture particular to your prescription. Your dentist will check the fit, and if required will make any adjustments so that the denture is comfortable.
Replacing lost or missing teeth is important for your health as it gives an even bite and improved chewing function as well as supporting the tissues of the face which stops these sagging and giving you an older appearance. It also maintains the remaining teeth in the correct position.
Learning to cope with your dentures can take time and perseverance. It is better to start with soft foods that are easier to eat and chew more slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time as this will help stop the denture from moving. As you get used to your denture you can add in more varied foods until you get back to your normal healthy diet.
Initially, in order to adapt as quickly as possible to your new dentures, it is best to wear them all the time, including at night. Then as you get used to them it is better to leave them out at night. Clean the dentures and your mouth and leave them in some water to prevent warping.
Cleaning is best done over a towel or bowl of water as if you drop your denture it may break or crack. Brush with a soft brush using soapy water, rinse well and, if you wish, soak it in a denture cleaner as per the manufacturers instructions.
Dentures should last several years if they are well looked after. However the mouth changes over time – gums shrink and change shape, which can mean that the way your teeth meet also alters. Your denture will need relining or adjusting to keep it fitting well. If your mouth changes a lot then new dentures will be needed.
Finally, teeth can also be replaced using implants. Ask your dentist for further information or