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Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic) or metal. They fit over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps.
Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle.
You may therefore need either:
- complete dentures, which replace all your upper or lower teeth, or
- partial dentures, which replace just one or a few missing teeth
Dentures can help prevent the above problems and, if complete dentures are needed, can improve the appearance of your smile, fill out your face and give you confidence.
A full denture would be fitted if all your upper and or lower teeth need to be removed, are missing already or you are having an old set of dentures replaced.
The denture is fitted as soon as your teeth are removed, which means you won’t ever be without teeth. The denture fits over your gums and jawbone.
Your dentist will take impressions (moulds) of your mouth and send them to the dental lab where they will be made into wax bite blocks
A trial denture will be created from the impressions that are taken of your mouth. The dentist will try this in your mouth to assess the fit and for you to assess the appearance. The colour and shape may be adjusted before the final denture is produced. Dentures normally take four visits to complete.
A partial denture is designed to fill in the gaps left by one or more missing teeth. The denture will be made in either acrylic or metal with a number of false teeth attached to it. Metal dentures normally have clasps attached to them which hold it securely in place in your mouth. It can easily be unclipped and removed.
Your dentist will advise you on which type of denture will be best suited to your needs.
Looking After Your Dentures
Dentures will feel a bit strange to begin with, but you’ll soon get used to wearing them.
At first you may need to wear your dentures all the time, including whilst you sleep. Your dentist will advise you as to whether you should remove your dentures before you go to sleep.
It is necessary to remove your dentures at night unless advised otherwise by your dentist. By doing this you are allowing your gums to breath and rest as you sleep. When you remove them, they should be kept moist – for example, in water or in a suitable overnight denture cleaning solution – to stop the denture material from drying out and altering in shape.
Keeping your mouth clean is just as important when you wear dentures. You should brush your remaining teeth, gums and tongue every morning and evening with fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems.
It’s important to clean your dentures daily to remove plaque and food deposits as unclean dentures can also lead to problems such as oral thrush, tooth decay, bad breath & gum disease.
- brush them with tooth paste before soaking in water overnight.
- soak the dentures in denture-cleaning solution to remove stains and bacteria, read the instructions first.
Dentures may break if you drop them, so you should clean them over a bowl or sink filled with water, or something soft such as a folded towel.
Eating with dentures
When you first start wearing dentures you should eat soft foods cut into small pieces.
Avoid chewing gum and any food that is sticky, hard or sharp-edged.
You can gradually start to eat other types of food until you are back to your old diet. Never use toothpicks.
You shouldn’t need to use denture fixative (adhesive) if the dentures fit properly. However, if your jawbone has shrunk a lot, adhesive may be the only way to help retain them. Your dentist will advise you if this is the case.
Adhesive can be removed from the denture by brushing with soap and water. Any adhesive left in the mouth may need to be removed with some damp kitchen roll or a clean damp cloth.
You should continue to see your dentist regularly if you have dentures, even if you have complete dentures, so they can check for any problems.
Dentures should last for several years if you take good care of them. However, your gums and jawbone will eventually shrink, which means the dentures may not fit as well as they used to and can become loose, or they may become worn.
You should make an appointment with your dentist if:
- your dentures click when you are talking
- your dentures tend to slip, or you feel they no longer fit properly
- your dentures feel uncomfortable
- your dentures are visibly worn
- you have signs of gum disease or tooth decay, such as bleeding gums or bad breath
If poorly fitting or worn dentures are not replaced, they can cause great discomfort and lead to mouth ulcers, infections or problems with eating and speech.