Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They are made of acrylic resin sometimes combined with metal attachments.
Types of Dentures
There are two types of dentures, complete and partial dentures.
Complete Dentures replace all teeth and fit snugly over the patient’s gums and jawbone. Tooth extraction of upper and lower teeth is done gradually over a few weeks to avoid any complications and to ensure proper healing between extractions. It usually takes 6-8 weeks for proper healing of the gums and for jawbone changes to stabilize before a patient is fitted for permanent dentures. This is to ensure a proper fit for permanent dentures.
A patient, however, can choose to have a temporary or (immediate) denture made after the last tooth extraction and before final healing, if desired, to allow the patient to eat and drink as usual. The alternative is that the patient goes home without teeth, and waits out the 6-8 week healing period before being fitted for permanent dentures.
Partial Dentures are removable and usually consist of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, and are often connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. There are many variations in partial dentures for patients to choose from and Dr. Noelle will discuss these with you to help you make an informed decision.
Fitting and Creating Dentures
During the patient’s denture fitting appointment, Dr. Noelle will take an impression of the mouth, and determine the size and color for the denture teeth. This impression will then be sent to a dental lab to create a custom wax setup. Dentures are made from acrylic and fabrication can take up to two months depending on how customized the process is. Once Dr. Noelle receives the final dentures from the dental lab, she will schedule the patient for another fitting appointment. During that fitting, Dr. Noelle will make sure the dentures fit properly and will make any necessary adjustments.
Ideal Candidate for Dentures
Dr. Noelle will examine your mouth and use digital x-rays to make sure you have no dental issues that would preclude you from getting dentures.
If you have significant tooth loss from injury, trauma, or periodontal disease, Dr. Noelle may recommend complete dentures for you.
If you have only one or more missing teeth but natural teeth remaining in the upper or lower jaw, Dr. Noelle may recommend partial dentures for you.
Getting Used to Your Dentures
After you have been fitted with your dentures, Dr. Noelle may advise you to wear them 24 hours a day at first (even while you sleep) to give you time to get used to them. As you adjust to your new dentures, you can remove them before going to bed. Wearing a new set of dentures is like breaking in a pair of stiff new shoes- it’s hard and it takes time!
Note that It is normal for your dentures to feel loose or odd at first, as your tongue and cheek muscles are adjusting to keeping your dentures in place. It is also normal to have some mouth irritation and soreness, and increased saliva flow. As your mouth adjusts to your dentures, you’ll notice that these issues will usually go away.
Common Adjustments for Dentures
We at Distinctive Dentistry always schedule several follow-up adjustments that are mandatory after dentures are delivered. There is a 48 hour adjustment and a 1 week adjustment. If after a few weeks, you feel that your dentures are still loose or causing irritation, make an appointment with Dr. Noelle for further adjustment. Don’t ignore the issues and stop wearing your dentures. This is especially true for patients who have partial dentures. If you stop wearing them, your remaining teeth may start to shift into the empty spaces where your dentures normally go, and as a result your dentures may no longer fit and you’ll need new dentures made.
Eating with Dentures
When you first get your dentures, start off with eating soft foods (e.g., applesauce, cooked cereals, eggs, mashed potatoes, etc.) for a couple of days to give your gums a chance to adjust to the denture plate. Soft foods don’t require a lot of chewing or add stress to your jaw muscles.
After a few days, start adding in other foods to your diet. Here are some helpful tips to follow:
- Cut your meat and vegetables into small bites and chew on both sides in the back of your mouth.
- Drink liquids with your meals so foods like bread and cereal don’t stick to your teeth.
- Avoid sticky foods like peanut butter, taffy, caramel, and raisins, as they can adhere to your upper or lower molars and dislodge your dentures.
- Be careful with hot foods, and test hot temperatures with your lips, as you won’t be able to judge temperatures due to the insulating effect of dentures.
- Avoid eating spicy foods, especially if your gums are sore.
Consultation for Dentures at Distinctive Dentistry
Most dental insurance providers cover all or some of the costs associated with dentures. Contact your dental insurance provider about the specific details of your coverage for dentures.
A dental adhesive can be used with both complete and partial dentures if it is needed. Dental adhesive helps form a seal that keeps food particles from sticking between the gums and dentures. It also helps to keep your dentures in place throughout the day.
In the morning, after rinsing your dentures, apply a small amount of dental adhesive onto your dentures and then place your dentures in your mouth.
At the end of the day, remove your dentures, rinse your mouth, clean your dentures thoroughly, and place them in a solution overnight.
For some patients, they notice that their dentures affect how they pronounce certain words. Over time, however, as they adjust to wearing dentures and practice pronouncing certain words, they find that they have become accustomed to speaking properly with their dentures.
In some cases, if patients only have a few teeth remaining, they can be pulled and patients can be fitted with complete, temporary dentures. Patients will be fitted for permanent dentures once their gums are fully healed and jawbone changes stabilize following tooth extraction.