If you experience dental phobia, it can often mean that your oral health is neglected. When you’ve lost teeth through trauma and decay, one option is to get dentures. Here’s what you can expect when you need dentures.
There are many reasons why people lose teeth. Trauma, tooth decay, illness, and lack of care are some of the most common causes.
When you’ve lost teeth, it can cause issues with your ability to eat and speak while opening you up to the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and the neighbouring teeth sliding out of position. Having dentures prevents these problems while helping to restore confidence in your smile.
Dentures are removable prosthetic appliances that fill the gaps left by missing teeth. Usually made from a combination of nylon, acrylic, and metal, false teeth are designed to snuggly fit around your gums and restore the appearance and function of your teeth.
If you’ve got just a few teeth missing, you’ll need a partial denture. When all of the teeth on one arch are missing, complete dentures are used.
The Advantages of Dentures
The benefits of wearing dentures include:
- Restores your smile
- Dentures are durable
- Removing dentures to clean them and to sleep is easy
- Dentures are very cost-effective
- The procedure for having dentures fitted is minimally invasive
- Dentures support your remaining teeth
- Dentures improve your speech and ability to chew food
The Disadvantages of Dentures
While dentures can be useful for several reasons, there are also some drawbacks, especially when compared with alternative prosthodontic options. The disadvantages include:
- Dentures are not as natural in their appearance as crowns or implants
- Traditional dentures can move around inside the mouth
- Partial dentures can sometimes weaken adjacent teeth
- Chewing foods such as toffee can be very difficult when wearing dentures
- Dentures will need replacing more frequently than crowns and implants
Complete dentures replace either your entire upper or lower row of teeth. If you’re having teeth removed, your denture will usually be fitted quite soon after their removal. Your denture will be custom-made to fit perfectly over your gums.
When having teeth removed, it can take some time for your gums and jawbone to heal. During this time, they may change shape.
There are two types of complete denture:
Conventional dentures will be made after you’ve had teeth removed and the gum tissue has started healing. This type of denture will be ready to be placed around two to three months after your teeth have been removed.
Immediate dentures are made ahead of the removal of your teeth so that you have replacements immediately. Because the gum and jaw can alter considerably following the removal of teeth, immediate dentures will need to be adjusted until the perfect fit is achieved.
Your dentures can either be fitted by a dentist or a clinical dental technician. The dentist will take impressions of your mouth and then order your dentures from a dental technician, whereas a clinical dental technician will supply you with the dentures directly.
If you have one or more natural teeth remaining on an arch, a partial denture may be used. Partial dentures are usually attached to a plastic base that is designed to match the colour of your gums. Occasionally, there may be a metal framework to hold the denture in position.
When you wear a partial denture, it ensures that any remaining teeth don’t change position within your mouth.
Usually, your partial dentures will attach to the neighbouring teeth using metal clasps to keep them secure. These can easily be unclipped to remove the denture.
Precision partial dentures have attachments instead of clasps. These sit behind your teeth. This type of appliance looks more natural.
A dentist or a clinical dental technician can fit a partial denture.
What to Expect From Your Denture Fitting
Your dentist may require you to make several appointments to have your dentures fitted. Your initial consultation will involve a discussion about what type of appliance will best suit your needs.
Once this has been determined, the dentist will take impressions and measurements of your mouth. This may be done using putty or using a less invasive intraoral scanner. Many modern dental practices are adopting 3D digital scanners to provide more accurate impressions.
The impressions will be used to create your dentures. Once these have been made, your dentist will ask you to come back so that they can be fitted.
If you’re someone with phobias about any dental treatments or procedures, rest assured that all of the appointments required to have dentures will be pain and discomfort-free experiences.
Eating With Dentures
It may take some time to get used to wearing dentures, particularly when it comes to eating. Initially, you should try to restrict your diet to soft foods only. Cut any food into small pieces and take your time while chewing, making sure you use each side of your mouth. You should also avoid eating anything that is too hard or sticky.
As you get used to wearing your dentures, gradually adjust your diet until it returns to normal.
Providing your dentures are properly fitted, you won’t need to use dental adhesives, however, if your jawbone has significantly shrunk, adhesives could be helpful at ensuring your dentures stay in position. If you need to use adhesives, your dentist will let you know.
Many people find adhesives useful while they’re developing their confidence wearing dentures. If you do decide to do this, ensure you’re not using too much and follow the guidelines on the packet.
Adhesives are typically available as a paste or a powder. You can remove adhesive from your dentures using a brush, soap, and water. Powder adhesives are usually easier to clean.
Caring for Your Dentures
Taking the best possible care of your dentures will not only ensure they last longer but will also help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
At the end of each day, your dentures will need to be thoroughly cleaned. You can do this by brushing them using toothpaste and water. Once you’ve brushed your dentures, leave them to soak in water along with a denture-cleaning tablet. This will remove any stains and prevent bacteria.
If they are dropped, your dentures may break so make sure that they are cleaned above a sink.
When to Visit Your Dentist
Even if you’ve had all of your teeth replaced with dentures, you will still need to see your dentist occasionally. Routine checkups will ensure that your gums and jawbone are healthy. As these will change over time, your dentures may need to be adjusted or replaced.
If any of the following occurs, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible:
- Your dentures start slipping
- Your dentures start to click as you speak
- Your dentures start to become uncomfortable
- Your dentures start to look worn
- You have bleeding gums
Poorly fitted dentures will not only be uncomfortable, but they can cause sores, issues eating and speaking, as well as infection.
Will I notice a big difference when I wear dentures?
It’s fairly normal to notice some degree of difference between your natural teeth and your new dentures and it may take a while to get used to wearing them. At first, chewing food may feel strange. Cutting food into small pieces and making sure meals are going to be easy to chew will be important at the start.
You may find difficulty pronouncing certain words when you’re wearing dentures for the first time. Again, this will become easier the more you wear them.
Dentures provide support for your facial features. If you’ve had teeth missing for some time, once you’ve got dentures, you’ll immediately notice a big difference in the way that they restore facial balance, provide definition, and lift your cheeks.
How long do dentures last?
Every so often, your dentures will need to be rebased, relined, or completely replaced. This is usually required once they reach a certain age. Typically, dentures are designed to last for between five and seven years.
If your dentures need to be relined or rebased, a dentist or prosthodontist will be able to fit a replacement base that reuses the existing dentures.
What other options are available to me?
If dentures aren’t right for you, there are several other options that you may wish to consider. These include:
- Dental bridges – These are prosthetic devices used to fill gaps between teeth. They typically use false teeth held in place on either side by dental crowns.
- Dental implants – To replace one or more teeth, dental implants may be used. These use titanium posts to anchor the replacement teeth into your jaw.
- Implant-supported dentures – To replace several teeth or a complete arch, you can get implant-supported dentures. These use four to six titanium posts positioned at 45-degree angles in your jaw to support a set of dentures. These provide a great deal more stability than conventional dentures.
How do I care for my gums if I have dentures?
Before putting your dentures in on a morning, it’s important to clean your gums and tongue. You can do this using a brush with soft bristles. This will help remove any plaque from your mouth and minimise the risk of gum disease.
If you have partial dentures, pay particular attention to brushing the teeth that the dentures clasp to. If plaque becomes trapped here, it can cause tooth decay.
Whether you wear full or partial dentures, you should remove the appliance before you brush your natural teeth.
Are denture adhesives safe?
As long as you follow the guidance on the packet, denture adhesives are perfectly safe. When adhesives are used to provide stability to ill-fitting dentures, the underlying tissue can become inflamed and the movement of the denture may lead to bone loss.
Denture adhesives shouldn’t be used as a substitute for getting your dentures adjusted. If you have ill-fitting dentures, it’s always best to speak with your dentist and have corrections made.
What questions should I ask my dentist about dentures?
Perhaps the most important question you should ask is how to take care of your dentures. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to demonstrate the best techniques and recommend the best products for keeping your dentures clean.
What should I do if I have a dental phobia?
The process involved in getting dentures is very straightforward, and there is no reason for concern. If you are dental phobic, spending time talking through how your dentures will be fitted may help ease your mind.
There are several steps you can take to help minimise your anxiety associated with getting dentures. Your first step should be to find a Dental Phobia Certified dentist near you.
Book your appointment for the quietest time of day. This will provide a less stressful environment for you. If you want, you can take someone with you for support such as a friend or family member.
Take the time to ask your dentist any questions you may have before your treatment. If you discuss your concerns, the dentist will have enough of an understanding of your phobias to make any necessary adaptations to your treatment.
Ask about sedation dentistry. Many dentists offer IV or oral sedation without the need for injections. Being sedated throughout your treatment will help you feel completely relaxed.