Dentures: Get Your Smile Back
What is a denture?
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues.
It is made of acrylic resin, 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 about a month 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 the healing has taken 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?
A dentist can make a full conventional denture when all teeth have been lost
or all extraction sites have healed (up to eight weeks or longer.) The denture
process takes about one month and five appointments: the initial diagnosis is
made; an impression and a wax bite are made to determine vertical dimensions and
proper jaw position; a "try-in" is placed to assure proper color, shape and fit;
and the patient's 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. While most patients
can begin to speak normally within a few hours, many patients report discomfort
with eating for several days or a few 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 difficulties with speech.
How do you care for a denture?
A denture is fragile, so it is important to handle it with care. Remove and brush
the denture daily, preferably with a brush designed specifically for cleaning
dentures, using either a denture cleanser or toothpaste. Never use harsh, abrasive
cleansers, including abrasive toothpastes, because they may scratch the surface
of the denture. Don't sterilize your denture with boiling water 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 cleanser 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 either the day or night allows the gum tissue to rest
and allows normal stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and saliva. This promotes
better long-term health of gums.
Continue seeing your dentist regularly
It is important to continue having regular dental checkups so that a dentist
can examine oral tissues for signs of disease or cancer. As you age, your mouth
will continue to change as the bone under your 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, consult your dentist.
Sources: Your Dentures, American Dental Association, 1992; Removable Partial
Dentures, American Dental Association, 1991; "Science and Research, Suggestion
to Patients: Learning to Wear and Care for New Dentures, "Iowa Dental Journal,
Vol. 67, No. 1, January 1981; 'A Myth In Time', Oklahoma Dental Association Journal,
Vol. 81, No. 4, Spring 1994; "Post Insertion Care of Patients With Removable Dentures",
Journal/Colorado Dental Association, Vol. 71, No. 2, January 1993; "Guidelines
on After Care for Dental Patients", JADA, Vol. 94, June 1977.
This information was compiled for you by the Academy of General Dentistry. Your
dentist cares about long-term dental health for you and your family and demonstrates
that concern by belonging to the Academy of General Dentistry. As one of the 35,000
general dentists in the United States and Canada who are members of the AGD, your
dentist participates in an ongoing program of professional development and continuing
education to remain current with advances in the profession and to provide quality
AGD Impact¬†July 1996
Posted† October† 1,† 2000 † [TCJ]