Learning About Dentures

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What are dentures?

Dentures are sets of artificial teeth that replace missing teeth. Some removable dentures replace all the teeth in the upper or lower jaw, or both. This type is called a complete denture. Other dentures may replace just some teeth. This type is called a partial denture or a bridge.

Complete dentures rest on top of the gums. Another type of denture, called dental implants, are attached to metal posts that are set beneath the gum, in the bones of the jaw. Implants offer a stronger bite and won't slip. They are usually put in by dentists and oral surgeons who have special training.

Dentures give you many of the benefits of a full set of teeth. They help restore your ability to bite and chew food. They can help you speak more clearly. And having dentures can improve the shape of your jawline and give you a natural smile.

Getting dentures can take time. Your damaged or decayed teeth will be removed. The gums and the jaw will need to heal. Then your dentist will make a model of your teeth to make sure your dentures fit well in your mouth.

Getting used to dentures can take a while. At first, you'll be aware of a new feeling in your mouth. Biting and chewing your food and even talking may seem a little different. But soon they'll feel like a natural part of your mouth. Your dentist will adjust your dentures from time to time to help them continue to fit well.

How do you care for your dentures?

Care for your dentures as you would care for your natural teeth. Plaque, a thin film of bacteria, can form on the surface of your dentures and gums. Keeping your dentures and gums clean can help prevent discomfort, infection, and bad breath.

To care for your dentures every day:

  • Stand over a folded towel or bowl of water when you or your caregiver takes the dentures out. This way, if you drop them, they will not break.
  • Store them in lukewarm water or denture-cleaning liquid overnight. Don't put them in hot water, and don't let them dry out.
  • Clean your dentures to help prevent stains and help your mouth stay healthy.
    • Take your dentures out of your mouth, and rinse them to remove any loose food.
    • Use a brush designed for cleaning dentures, or use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Wet the brush, and gently brush every surface of your dentures with a denture cleanser such as Efferdent or Polident. Don't use toothpaste or a brush with hard bristles. They can scratch the dentures. You can use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid, but don't use abrasive household cleaners or bleach.

To care for your mouth every day:

  • Leave your dentures out at least 6 hours at night. This gives your gums a chance to rest.
  • If your gums are red or swollen, let them heal before you put your dentures in again.
  • Brush your gums, your tongue, and the roof of your mouth with a soft-bristled brush.

If you have denture implants, you can care for them just like you would your original teeth.

See your dentist as often as he or she recommends.

What else should you know about dentures?

Don't use dentures that are too big, that click when you eat, or that don't feel good. If they still give you trouble after the first few weeks, talk to your dentist about fitting them again. Don't try to "fix" your dentures yourself.

The shape of your gums and the bones in your jaw can change over time. Your dentures may lose their fit. A denture adhesive may help hold them in place for a while, but dentures that fit well shouldn't need an adhesive. Getting your dentures adjusted regularly can help ensure a snug fit.

Daily use can wear dentures out. You may have to replace them about every 5 years.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your dentist if:

  • Your dentures do not fit well.
  • You have sores in your mouth.
  • Your dentures cause pain.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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