Frequently Asked Questions About Dentures

Your Dentures

If you're like most people who are learning about dentures, you probably have many questions. Dentures have been around for many years. The earliest form of denture was introduced more than 2,000 years ago. Today, dentures are of better quality and are more comfortable than ever before.

Replacing missing teeth has substantial benefits for your health and your appearance. A complete denture, also called a full denture, replaces all the natural teeth and provides support for cheeks and lips. Without this support, sagging facial muscles can make a person appear older. And by replacing missing teeth, dentures improve a person's ability to speak and to eat.

A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin (a plastic), sometimes in combination with various metals. Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position. Complete dentures are either "conventional" or "immediate". A conventional denture is placed in the mouth after all of the teeth are removed to allow for proper healing, whereas an immediate denture is placed as soon as the teeth are removed. The drawback behind an immediate denture is that it may require more adjustments after healing has taken place. An overdenture is a denture that is constructed with special attachments to attach it to some retained roots or dental implants so that it will stay firmly in place.

Who needs a denture?

Candidates for complete dentures have lost most or all of their teeth. A partial denture is suitable for those who have some natural teeth remaining. A denture improves chewing ability and speech, and provides support for facial muscles. It will greatly enhance the facial appearance and smile.

What happens when you get a denture?

To make a full conventional denture when all teeth have been lost or all extraction sites have healed. An initial diagnosis is made; an impression and wax bite are made to determine proper jaw position; a "try-in" is placed to assure proper color, shape and fit; and patients final denture is placed , following any minor adjustments.
New denture wearers need time to get accustomed to their new teeth because even the best fitting dentures will feel awkward at first. Most patients can begin to speak normally within a few hours, many patients report discomfort with eating for several days or weeks. To get accustomed to chewing with a new denture, start with soft, easy to chew foods. In addition, denture wearers often notice a slight change in facial appearance, increased salivary flow, or minor speech difficulty.

How do you care for a denture?

A denture is fragile, so it is important to handle with care. Remove and brush the denture daily, preferably with a brush designed specifically for cleaning dentures, using either a denture cleaner or regular soap and water. Never use harsh, abrasive cleaners, including abrasive toothpaste's, because they may scratch the surface of the denture. Don't sterilize the denture with boiling water or place it the dishwasher because it will cause it to become warped. If you wear a partial denture be sure to remove it before brushing your natural teeth.

When not in use, soak it in a cleaner solution or in water. Get in the habit of keeping the denture in the same safe and handy place to reduce the likelihood of misplacement.

Should a denture be worn at night?

While you may be advised to wear your new denture almost constantly during the first two weeks even while you sleep-under normal circumstances it is considered best to remove it at night. Research has shown that removing the denture for at least eight hours during the day or night allows gum tissue to rest and allows normal stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and saliva. This promotes better long term health of gums.

Follow up Denture Care

It is important to continue having regular dental checkups so that we can examine your oral tissues for signs of disease or cancer. As you age, your mouth will continue to change as the bone under the denture shrinks or recedes. To maintain a proper fit over time, it may be necessary to adjust your denture or possibly remake your denture. Never attempt to adjust a denture yourself and do not use denture adhesives for a prolonged period because it can contribute to bone loss. When in doubt, give us a call.

What's the difference between conventional dentures and immediate dentures?

Complete dentures are called "conventional" or "immediate" according to when they are made and when they are inserted into the mouth. Conventional dentures are made and inserted after the remaining teeth are removed and the tissues have healed. Healing may take several months.

Immediate dentures are inserted immediately after the removal of the remaining teeth. To make this possible, the dentist takes measurements and makes the models of the patient's jaws during a preliminary visit.

An advantage of immediate dentures is that the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums can shrink over time, especially during the period of healing in the first six months after the removal of teeth. When gums shrink, immediate dentures may require rebasing or relining to fit properly.

What is an overdenture?

An overdenture is one that fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth that have been prepared by the dentist. The prepared teeth provide stability and support for the denture. We can determine if an overdenture would be suitable for you when we examine your mouth and remaining teeth.

What will dentures feel like?

New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place.

It is not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should diminish. One or more follow-up appointments are generally needed after a denture is inserted. If any problem persists, particularly irritation or soreness, be sure to call.

Will dentures make me look different?

Dentures can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that little change in appearance will be noticeable. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile and help fill out the appearance of your face and profile.

Will I be able to eat with my dentures?

Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the dentures from tipping. As you become accustomed to chewing, add other foods until you return to your normal diet.

Continue to chew food using both sides of the mouth at the same time. Be cautious with hot or hard foods and sharp-edged bones or shells.

Will dentures change how I speak?

Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating troublesome words will help. If your dentures "click" while you're talking, speak more slowly.

You may find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile. Reposition the dentures by gently biting down and swallowing.

How long should I wear my dentures?

We will provide instructions about how long dentures should be kept in place. During the first few days, you may be advised to wear them most of the time, including while you sleep. After the initial adjustment period, you may be instructed to remove the dentures before going to bed. This allows gum tissues to rest and promotes oral health. Generally, it is not desirable that the tissues be constantly covered by denture material.

Should I use a denture adhesive?

Dentures are made to fit precisely and usually do not require use of an adhesive for comfort. In an emergency, denture adhesives can be used to keep the dentures stable until you see the dentist, but prolonged use can mask infections and cause bone loss in the jaw. Likewise, a poorly-fitting denture, which causes constant irritation over a long period, may contribute to the development of sores. If your dentures begin to feel loose, or cause pronounced discomfort, see your dentist immediately.

How do I take care of my dentures?

Dentures are very delicate and may break if dropped even a few inches. Stand over a folded towel or a basin of water when handling dentures. When you are not wearing them, store your dentures away from children and pets.

Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food deposits and plaque. Brushing helps prevent dentures from becoming permanently stained and helps your mouth stay healthy. It's best to use a brush designed for cleaning dentures. A toothbrush with soft bristles can also be used. Avoid using hard-bristled brushes that can damage dentures.

Some denture wearers use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid, which are both acceptable for cleaning dentures. Avoid using other powdered household cleansers, which may be too abrasive.

The first step in cleaning dentures is to rinse away loose food particles thoroughly. Moisten the brush and apply denture cleanser. Brush every surface, scrubbing gently to avoid damage.

Dentures may lose their shape if they are allowed to dry out. When they are not worn, dentures should be placed in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in water. Never place dentures in hot water, which could cause them to warp.

Ultrasonic cleaners are also used to care for dentures. However, using an ultrasonic cleaner does not replace a thorough daily brushing.

Can I make minor adjustments or repairs to my dentures?

You can seriously damage your dentures and harm your health by trying to adjust or repair your dentures. A denture that is not made to fit properly can cause irritation and sores.

If your dentures break, crack, chip, or if one of the teeth becomes loose be sure to call. We can often make the necessary adjustments or repairs on the same day. A person who lacks the proper training will not be able to reconstruct the denture. This can cause greater damage to the denture and may cause problems in your mouth. Glue sold over-the-counter often contains harmful chemicals and should not be used on dentures.

Will my dentures need to be replaced?

Over time, dentures will need to be relined, remade or rebased due to normal wear. To make a rebased denture, the dentists uses the existing denture teeth and makes a new denture base. Dentures may need to be replaced because a mouth naturally changes with age. Bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, causing jaws to align differently. Shrinking ridges can cause dentures to fit less securely. Loose dentures can cause health problems, including sores and infections. A loose denture also makes chewing more difficult and may change your facial features. It's important to replace worn or poorly-fitting dentures before they cause problems.

Must I do anything special to care for my mouth?

Even with full dentures, you still need to take good care of your mouth. Every morning, brush your gums, tongue and palate with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Selecting a balanced diet for proper nutrition is also important for maintaining a healthy mouth.

How often should I schedule dental appointments?

We will advise you about how often to visit. Regular dental check-ups are important. We like to check your mouth on a regular basis to see if your dentures continue to fit properly. We also examines your mouth for signs of oral diseases including cancer

With regular professional care, a positive attitude and persistence, you can become one of the millions of people who wear their dentures with a smile.

[Denture Exam] [Over Denture] [All About Full Dentures] [Check-Up] [Adjustment]
[Denture Surgery] [Myths] [Reline] [Questions] [Immediate Denture] [Implants]


Denture Surgery

Various types of surgery are available to enhance the mouth to receive dentures. New denture patients and patients who have worn dentures for many years can benefit from these procedures and enhance their quality of life. A denture exam and a consultation with an Oral Surgeon is necessary to determine where treatment is indicated. An exam is indicated for a patient requiring dentures for the first time and to check the health of patients who already wear dentures.

Some of the Surgical procedures relating to both hard and soft tissues to enhance the dental ridges and benefit the denture patient are listed below:

  • Simple Extractions - normal extraction.
  • Complex Extractions - related to impacted teeth and retained roots.
  • Alveoloplasty - used to re-shape the dental ridge usually after extractions for a new denture.
  • Tuberosity Reduction - used to reduce the "knob" of tissue at the back of the upper dental arch to create space.
  • Vestibular Surgery - increases the depth of the crevice between the dental ridge and the cheek.
  • Ridge Augmentation - increasing the size of the dental ridge itself.
  • Gingivoplasty - usually involves removing excess soft tissue that has developed from poor fitting dentures.
  • Dental Implants - to provide a base to attach the denture to the dental ridge.

[Denture Exam] [Over Denture] [All About Full Dentures] [Check-Up] [Adjustment]
[Denture Surgery] [Myths] [Reline] [Questions] [Immediate Denture] [Implants]


Complete Exam

A dental examination is complete ONLY if it allows identification of all active factors that are capable of causing or contributing to the deterioration of oral health or function. It is incomplete if it does not provide enough information to develop a total treatment plan aimed at optimum maintainability of the teeth and their supporting structures. Since there is no effective way to achieve maintainable oral health without a harmony of all parts of the masticatory system, the total system must be evaluated. what affects one part of the system will eventually affect the other parts. A careful diagnostician must first be a careful examiner who observes every deleterious effect in the form of signs or symptom and then analyzes for all the possible causes.

It takes time (a considerable amount) to perform an examination correctly and then have opportunity to discuss, and answer questions. A complete exam should take place BEFORE any cleaning appointment is made. The primary reason is that there is NO way to determine if a person has any periodontal (gum) disease problems over the phone. It takes a thorough periodontal screening (as part of the entire exam) in order to detect the presence or nonpresence of periodontal disease. It is after and only after the exam that the correct determination for a cleaning (hygiene) appointment can be made.

The components of a complete exam are:
  • Review / discussion of Medical History
  • Review / discussion of Dental History
  • A complete series of x-rays
  • Accurate diagnostic models mounted on an articulator utilizing a facebow and centric relation bite
  • Blood pressure taken.
  • Video imaging.
  • Clinical examination (see below).

The following clinical findings must be evaluated in order for the exam to be complete:

  1. Head and neck exam - muscles of neck, glands and lymph node areas.
  2. TMJ (jaw joint) exam - observing opening and joint symptoms if present.
  3. Soft Tissue (Cancer Exam) - are there any lesions?
  4. Periodontal (Gum) Disease - evaluated with a periodontal probe and general appearance.
  5. Occlusion (Bite)
    • Interferences • Excessive wear • How the teeth relate to each other and to the jaw joint.
  6. Visual tooth exam -
    • Decay (Caries) index • Mobility of the teeth recession and sensitivity   • Missing teeth - do they need replacement? • Aesthetics - the cosmetic appearance of the teeth
  7. X-rays -
    • Dental abscesses • Decay present • Periodontal disease • Impacted teeth • General abnormalities.
  8. Any other pertinent information

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[Denture Surgery] [Myths] [Reline] [Questions] [Immediate Denture] [Implants]

Myths About Dentures

When it comes to myths, dentures have spawned a colorful collection. Unfortunately, many of these common misconceptions about dentures have prevented people from achieving their best health, appearance and self-confidence. The fact of the matter is that proper denture fit, maintenance and regular dental care can positively affect each of the 32 million Americans who wear full or partial dentures. So check out the following 11 myths. You may be surprised to find out that one or two that you have accepted as "fact," are actually "fiction."

"Dentures last forever!"

While it's true that dentures are durable, they aren't any more permanent than eyeglasses. Dropping them even a few inches can break a tooth or the denture base. Even with conscientious care, denture teeth can lose their natural appearance and chewing ability due to chewing, brushing and age. The way you care for your dentures can also alter their fit. Dentures can warp if placed in hot water. If they become dried out, they may change shape. When you remove your dentures at night, place them in a container of denture-cleaning solution or water. Also, it's best to use a brush designed for dentures as well as a denture cleaner rather than toothpaste, because some dentifrices may be too abrasive for dentures.

"Once you have dentures, you don't need to see a dentist anymore."

This is probably the most common myth about dentures, and it's wrong for several very important reasons. You should see your dentist regularly for an oral examination, because your mouth is continually changing. Mouth tissue can reveal signs of diseases, such as diabetes, that first manifest themselves in the mouth. Besides checking your dentures, the dentist will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer, and examine your gum ridges, tongue and jaw joints.

Of course, your dentures need attention, too. Important indicators of their condition are:

Looseness caused by tissue changes; Bad odor caused by absorption of fluid and bacteria; Color change due to age or a reaction to mouth fluids; Stains and calculus deposits resulting from mouth fluids.

"Everyone knows when you're wearing dentures. It's embarrassing."

This is true only if your dentures look unnatural or need re-fitting. Many of the "tell-tale" signs of dentures - clicking or slipping, unpleasant odor or stains - are actually signs of poor fit or improper home maintenance. Regular professional examinations and following your dentist's instructions on home care are essential steps in assuring a "natural appearance." Confidence in wearing dentures comes from realizing that you have taken a positive step towards improving your health and appearance. Protecting your oral health with properly fitting dentures is a smart move!

"Denture wearers can't eat normally, or even speak properly."

While not all denture wearers can eat everything they would like, many have very few restrictions in their diets. So if you develop persistent eating or speech problems at any time, have your dentist check the fit of your dentures as soon as possible. Good nutrition is just as important for mature adults as it is for younger persons. Properly fitting dentures may actually encourage you to eat a varied and well-balanced diet that maximizes your oral health. And you'll be able to enjoy the social benefits that make dining with friends such a pleasant experience!

"I have to use adhesives to make my dentures fit, or I can't wear them all day."

This is a particularly dangerous myth. Dentures are made to fit precisely and usually do not require use of an adhesive for comfort. In an emergency, denture adhesives can be used to keep the dentures stable until you see the dentist, but prolonged use can mask infections and cause bone loss in the jaw. Likewise, a poorly-fitting denture, which causes constant irritation over a long period, may contribute to the development of sores. If your dentures begin to feel loose, or cause pronounced discomfort, see your dentist immediately.

"Dentures aren't like natural teeth; they're not affected by over-the-counter and prescription medications."

Drugs can affect denture fit and wearability. For example, certain medications can reduce the supply of saliva in your mouth, making it difficult to swallow or chew. So let your dentist know of any medications you may be taking regularly - or even occasionally.

"I have a fixed income. Regular dental care is too expensive."

Before deciding that oral examinations and denture care is too costly, discuss the situation with your dentist. Be frank. Ask about charges for denture adjustments, repairs and possible replacement. Keep in mind that if you are in your 60s, you could have twenty more years of talking, eating and smiling. Your oral health is a vital part of your total health.

"I can make my own denture repairs."

Even if you are a whiz at fixing toasters, leaky pipes or automobiles, do not try to adjust or repair your dentures yourself. Improperly relined dentures can be bulky, causing increased pressure on the jaw and more rapid loss of jawbone. Do-it-yourself reliners can also irritate the soft tissues of your mouth. The handyman approach can cause irreparable damage and may result in the need for a new denture. "I'll be without teeth for days if I take my denture to the dentist for a refitting or repair." Advances in modern dentistry have made it possible for your dentist to reline or repair dentures quickly - often right in the office. If you let your dentist know that you are in need of a denture repair, the correction can frequently be made on the same day.

"I know I should have my denture replaced, but I just don't want to go through a long adjustment period again."

The first time is always the hardest. You're a pro now. You've learned the basics about eating, speaking and wearing a denture. There will be some adjustment, but it will probably be shorter and easier than the first time. And it is important! Prolonged use of ill-fitting dentures can irritate the gums, tongue and cheek, and even cause the ridges of your mouth to shrink to the point where it will almost be impossible to fit you with normal dentures. Your ability to chew may decrease, and your face may acquire deep aging lines and wrinkles. When you look at the big picture, the temporary adjustment period isn't so bad.

"All dentures are the same. It makes sense to shop around and look for the lowest price."

Only your dentist is qualified to diagnose your oral health condition and fit and adjust your dentures. Before prescribing a denture, the dentist reviews your health history, performs a thorough oral examination and carefully measures and prepares your mouth for dentures. Dentists work closely with reputable dental laboratories, where trained technicians make your dentures to match your dentist's specifications. Mail order specials for self-fitting dentures may result in a poor fit, and can cause serious oral health problems. So see your dentist. Or, if you need assistance in locating a dentist in your area, contact your local dental society. Your health, comfort and appearance should not be left to chance! 

[Denture Exam] [Over Denture] [All About Full Dentures] [Check-Up] [Adjustment]
[Denture Surgery] [Myths] [Reline] [Questions] [Immediate Denture] [Implants]


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