What are they?
A removable denture replaces missing teeth. 'Partial' dentures replace a few missing teeth and 'full' dentures are required if all the natural teeth are missing . Dentures are made of plastic and sometimes metal as well, to make them strong and less bulky.
What does the dentist do?
- The dentist uses putty-like material to make moulds of your mouth - called 'impressions'. A dental technician uses them to make plaster models for the denture to be built on;
- The technician will make wax blocks which fit the plaster models. The dentist trims them to show the technician how your teeth should bite together, and the shape to make the final denture;
- A trial denture is made and tried in the mouth. The dentist will ask how it fits, feels and looks before making final changes;
- The trial denture then goes back to the technician who permanently fixes the teeth. The denture is then ready to use.
The dentist may want to see you again fairly soon to see how you are getting on with the denture. If there are problems, small adjustments can be made. Dentist call this 'easing' your dentures.
What are the benefits?
If you have lost some teeth, dentures can improve the way you look, bite, chew and speak.
- They are custom-made to match your mouth and can be made to look as natural as possible;
- You will be able to chew more efficiently;
- Remaining teeth are protected from wear and tear. Without dentures, the natural teeth may move or tilt, stopping your teeth biting together properly;
- Dentures can be fitted straight after extractions so that nobody need know you have had a tooth out. These are called 'immediate' dentures.
Do remember that dentures will never feel like your own teeth and it can take time to get used to them. If you haven't had a denture before, the dentist will want to explain the difficulties of denture-wearing as well as the benefits and how you should look after your new dentures and your remaining teeth.
Caring for dentures.
It is easy to let oral hygiene slip when a denture has been fitted, but the result can be further natural tooth loss and gum inflammation, as well as bacterial and fungal infections. Replacement dentures are expensive so it is important to take care of the properly.
Three steps to good denture oral health:
- Get into the habit of taking daily care of your denture right from the start;
- Maintain a twice daily routine of brushing and soaking;
- Make sure you visit your dentist for regular check ups.
Plaque is an invisble, sticky film which forms on dentures in a similar way to natural teeth. If it is not regularly removed it can lead to both gum disease and bad breath. Plaque soon calcifies and hardens to form calculus or tartar. Plaque begins to re-form as soon as it is cleaned, so it is important to clen your denture twice a day.
Staining of your denture or natural teeth can be embarrassing. Certain foods and drinks such as tea, coffee and red wine can cause staining. Tobacco is also a problem as are some medicines and vitamin supplements. Staining will occur far more readily on plaque and tartar than on a clean denture.
Cleaning your dentures.
You don't need to spend any more time cleaning your dentures than you would your natural teeth, and there is no need to soak your dentures overnight. For effective cleaning:
- Adopt a twice daily routine of brushing, soaking, then brushing again. This will keep your denture clean, fresh and free from bacteria.
- Brush your denture before soaking to help get rid of any food. Use a small headed toothbrush to reach into all the awkward corners and a soft to medium texture brush to avoid damaging the denture. You should always remove your dentures from the mouth before cleaning.
- After brushing, soak your denture for just 10 minutes in a specialist cleaner such as Steradent Triple Action Cleaner, to kill the daily build up of bacteria and remove stains.
- For heavier and stubborn stains and for removal of tartar use an extra strength formulation, such as Steradent Extra Strength Cleaner.
- If you don't have the time to soak your dentures for 10 minutes, try using Steradent 3 Minutes Cleaner.
- soak your denture in boiling water. Using water hotter than 50°C (hotter than the hand can bear) can often cause bleaching and may also damage the denture's shape. Always check the manufacturer's instructions.
- use ordinary toothpastes - these are not designed for use on dentures, which are made of softer materials than the enamel of natural teeth. Some toothpastes include abrasives, which, if used frequently, can scratch the denture surface which then harbours bacteria.
- drop your denture. Handle with care, and if possible clean it over a basin of water. That way if you drop it, it won't be damaged.
Common questions about dentures.
How long will it take to adapt to wearing a denture?
It may be a bit uncomfortable at first even though it is custom made, but don't worry, after a few days it will begin to feel more natural and comfortable. Sometimes the use of a denture fixative cream, such as Steradent Comfort Fixative Cream, is advised to help fill any minute gaps between your gum and denture plate, ensuring the most comfortable fit. Fixative cream can also be used when your denture is first fitted to help you get used to it.
Will my denture stay in place?
Yes, in most cases a correctly designed denture will fit well and feel comfrotable. However, if you think it is slipping, seek advice from your dentist who may suggest a denture fixative for greater confidence.
Is it easy to talk wearing a denture?
Talking may feel lightly awkward at first, but if you practice reading aloud to yourself, your speech will soon revert back to normal.
Will it affect what I can eat?
In time and with practice you should be able to easily eat most foods. However, at the start biting into hard foods such as apples with your front teeth will be dificult, so it's better to try and chew with your side teeth.
Should I take my denture out at night?
It is best to to ask your dentist for advice. Removing your denture for the whole night can give your mouth and gums time to recover from the stress of supporting it during the day. If you remove your denture, place it in water to protect it from damage.
What if my mouth feels sore?
This may happen at first as your mouth adjusts to the feel of the new denture. If it persits for more than a week, then consult your dentist. Do not ignore any discomfort. As a temporary solution, try using a soothing gel such as Bonjela, which eases pain and heals sores caused by dentures. Bonjela is also clinically shown to aid the healing and relieve the pain of mouth ulcers. Bonjela should be applied to the gums 30 minutes before re-inserting the denture.
What are my dentures made of?
The vast majority of dentures are made with acrylic teeth on a plastic or metal base material.
How long will my dentures last?
Complete dentures usually last for five years, whereas a partial denture will last between three and five years. Ask your dentist when you next have a check up.
How often should I visit my dentist?
Regular visits to your dentist are still essential. Some people believe that once they have lost their natural teeth, they need only visit their dentist when their dentures are loose or causing problems. This is not the case, and annual visit is advisable for complete denture wearers for oral cancer check ups, while partial denture wearers should visit their dentist every six months.
The Denture Care Advice Line.
The Denture Care Advice Line is a free helpline set up to answer any queries you may have concerning the wearing of your denture.
Simply call 0800 111 345 and speak to a trained operator who will answer denture related questions. The phone line is open from 8.30pm to 10pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.