Dentures can replace your missing teeth and improve your quality of life. With practice, eating and speaking will be easier. You can smile freely without feeling embarrassed. Dentures can be made to look like your natural teeth. There may be only a small change in how you look. Full dentures may even give you a better smile. Dentures also support the cheeks and lips so the face muscles do not sag and make you look older.
Types of Dentures
Conventional Complete Dentures
A conventional complete denture is made and placed in your mouth after the teeth are taken out and the tissues have healed. Healing may take several months. The framework of the complete denture, called the base, is normally made of plastic that closely matches the color of your gums. The base of the upper denture covers the palate (the roof of the mouth). When the base of the upper denture rests against the gums and palate, it makes a seal to hold the denture in place. The lower denture has a horseshoe shape so there is room for the tongue.
It rests on the gum and bone tissues of the dental ridge. The base fits closely to the ridge and a thin film of saliva holds it in place. The cheek muscles and tongue also help hold the lower denture in place. Lower dentures may feel looser than upper dentures because there is less suction.
Conventional Complete Dentures
A complete denture may also be attached to dental implants (posts fixed directly to the jawbone), which provide a more secure fit. Properly placed implants make the denture stable and can help reduce bone loss. Ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
With implants and posts (abutments)
Some patients may have the option to get immediate dentures. For these, the denture is made before the remaining teeth are removed. Once the denture has been made at the lab, the dentist removes the teeth at the next visit and the denture is placed right away. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to go without teeth during the healing time. Once healing is complete, the dentures may need to be adjusted.
Getting Used to Your Dentures
New dentures may feel odd or uncomfortable for the first few weeks. The most important thing is to keep wearing your dentures until you get used to them. They may feel loose until the muscles of your cheeks and tongue learn to hold them in place. You may have more salivary flow for a short time. A little irritation or soreness is not unusual. If this is the case, talk to your dentist. Your dentist can make adjustments to prevent further problems and make you more comfortable.
Eating with dentures takes some practice. Begin with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly and use both sides of your mouth at the same time to keep the dentures from moving out of place. Slowly add other types of food until you can return to your normal diet.
You will also need to practice talking with your new dentures.
Reading out loud and repeating tricky words in front of a mirror will help. Talk slowly to prevent muffled speech. If your dentures slip out of place when you laugh, cough, or smile, bite down and swallow to reposition them.
After you get new dentures, your dentist may tell you to wear them most of the time. After the adjustment period, you should take them out at bedtime and to clean them. Do not wear dentures around the clock because tissues that are covered with denture material all the time can become irritated.
Your new dentures should fit securely, but your dentist may tell you to use a denture adhesive as you get used to wearing them. A denture that does not fit well may cause irritation, with possible mouth sores and infection. While denture adhesive can temporarily help a loose-fitting denture, using adhesives all the time is not recommended. If your denture is loose, have your dentist check it. Your dentist may send you to a prosthodontist, a special kind of dentist who is trained in replacing lost teeth.
Caring for Dentures
Like natural teeth, you must take good care of your dentures. Here are some tips to care for your dentures:
- Dentures are very delicate and may break if dropped even a few inches on a hard surface. When handling your dentures, stand over a folded towel or a sink filled with cool water.
- Brush each day to remove food deposits and plaque, and to help keep the artificial teeth from getting permanent stains.
- It is best to use a special brush made for cleaning dentures, but you can use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Don’t use hard-bristled brushes because they can damage dentures. You can use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your dentures, but it does not take the place of careful daily brushing.
- To clean the denture, take it out of your mouth and rinse off loose particles. Wet the brush and put the cleanser on it. Brush every denture surface gently so you do not damage the denture.
- Look for denture cleansers that have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, a symbol of safety and effectiveness.
- Do not let your dentures dry out or they may lose their shape. When you are not wearing your dentures, put them in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in plain water.
- Never soak dentures in hot water. It can cause them to warp.
- When you are not wearing your dentures, keep them away from curious children and pets.
Caring for Your Mouth
Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue, and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures. This increases circulation in your tissues and helps remove plaque. Eating a balanced diet is also important to keep your mouth healthy.
You still need regular oral examinations by your dentist even after you have lost your teeth. Your dental office will tell you how often you should have checkups. The mouth and oral tissue are at risk for potentially serious diseases and should be examined regularly. During your visit, the dentist will look for signs of oral disease such as cancer of the head and neck. Your dentist will also look at your mouth to see if your dentures fit well and see if you need adjustments.
See your dentist if your dentures break, crack, chip, or if any part of the denture becomes loose. Your dentist is the only one who should make repairs to your denture. A person without the proper training will not be able to fix a denture. Do not try to adjust them yourself. This can harm both the denture and your health. Do not use over-the-counter glues on dentures. They contain harmful chemicals and are not useful in fixing dentures.
The normal lifetime of dentures is about 5 to 10 years, but this can vary widely depending on the patient. In time, your dentures may need relining, rebasing, or replacing. This is due to daily wear and changes to your gum tissues and bone as you age. Relining is when your dentist adds new material to the underside of the denture base to fit to your gums. Rebasing is when a new base is made using your old denture as a model. The artificial teeth from the old denture are used on the new base.
The mouth changes naturally with age and your dentures will have to be remade when your dentist thinks it is needed. Jaws may line up differently as bones and gum ridges recede and shrink. Shrinking ridges can cause the dentures to no longer fit properly. It is important to replace worn or ill-fitting dentures before they cause problems.
Your New Smile
You are the key to your new smile’s success, and these four tips will help:
- Give yourself plenty of time to get used to your dentures.
- Eat a balanced diet for good health.
- Practice eating and speaking.
- See your dentist regularly.
Patient education content ©2012 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. “ADA” and the “ADA” Logo are registered trademarks of the American Dental Association.
We love making dentures.
Through the years we have participated with Donated Dental Services in giving back to our community. We recently received a letter from DDS, informing us about Mike, asking us if we could help him out with new set of dentures. What a neat opportunity.
We know that there are many people who have questions about dentures, and we asked Mike if he would allow us to share his case with others on the internet, in exchange for a new smile. Mike graciously accepted the arrangement.
Do you have any questions about dentures? How they are made? How many visits? What can be my final expectations? What are my choices on color, shape? In this case, start to finish we had 5 visits. On the fifth visit, Mike was walking out the door with his new teeth. There were some follow up visits to do some minor adjustments on his new smile. We have provided details of the five main visits, so that you can get an idea of what it takes to make a new denture. On our last visit we took a video to share with you, so you can see what his denture looks like while he speaks. And when he smiles.
- Dentures Introduction FAQ – Our introduction page to dentures and why we love doing them.
- Dentures - Day 1 – This is our first visit with Mike. We review Mike’s health history, and take x-rays. We take photo records, and come up with a treatment plan.
- Dentures - Day 2 – This is a busy visit. We are happy to provide Nitrous Oxide to Mike as we extract two teeth, and take master impressions for Mike’s new smile.
- Dentures - Day 3 – In this visit, we fabricate the dentures out of wax. We pick the color for Mike’s new smile, and the shape of his new teeth. In technical jargon, we fabricated the wax rims to establish Mike’s Occlusal Vertical Dimension (OVD).
- Dentures - Day 4 – Wax try in. The dentures are made with Mike’s final teeth. Everything is in wax. This allows us to make any adjustments necessary.
- Dentures - Day 5 – It may appear that we are done since Mike gets to take his new smile home. We will have some follow up visits after this one, to adjust out any sore spots.
- Dentures Conclusion FAQ – Mike comes in for a check up, and we take a video. Check out Mike’s new smile.