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Living with Your Dentures

Adjusting to Your Dentures

Denture Adhesives
When people get dentures for the first time, they sometimes find it difficult to get used to them. They are often concerned that the denture will slip or fall out. Using a denture adhesive can ease some of these worries and can increase confidence about wearing dentures. A denture adhesive, used for a short time, will help the dentures to stay in place while the muscles of the cheeks and tongue "learn" to do this job.

If you have just received your dentures, you will need to practice eating and drinking with them. You should start with drinking water and eating non-sticky foods such as soup, yogurt and scrambled eggs. Avoid raw vegetables, meats and sticky foods. Do not get discouraged. You will soon be able to eat most foods again.

Cut your food into small pieces. When biting, avoid using your front teeth. Instead, use your canine teeth (the pointed ones) and the teeth just behind them. Do not pull or tear your food in a forward direction; instead, push back as you bite. When you chew, try to have some food on either side of your mouth. This will help to stabilize your dentures. Do not expect to eat as efficiently as you did with your natural teeth, even after you become experienced.

Eating a proper diet is especially important for people who wear dentures. As a group, denture wearers tend to have lower-quality diets than do people with most or all of their natural teeth. They may not get enough of the nutrients found in hard-to-chew foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and meat. If you find that you have had to change your diet, speak to your dentist about this.

Many people feel as if their mouths are full of marbles when they put in their dentures the first few times. You will most likely need to practice speaking. Do this by reading aloud, slowly and quietly, when you are at home. You will soon find that you are able to speak just as you did before you got your dentures. Rest assured that your speech will improve in a fairly short time.

Other Changes
You may notice more saliva in your mouth when you get your new dentures. This is normal and will improve over time. When you sneeze, cough or yawn, your dentures may loosen. This is normal. It does not mean the dentures don't fit. This too will improve over time.

You will be instructed to take your dentures out when you sleep. That's because the gums under your dentures need a rest every day.

When you had your own teeth, the bone in your jaw helped to support them. Without your teeth, the bone shrinks. After many years of denture wear, your jaws (especially your lower jaw) become smaller. This can make your dentures fit poorly. They may become difficult to use. The dentures may need to be relined to improve the fit.

Regular visits to the dentist are just as important for people with dentures as they are for people with all their natural teeth. Everyone with dentures should visit a dentist at least every six months. Regular visits help ensure that your dentures continue to fit and operate correctly. Your dentist also will examine your mouth for signs of bone loss, oral cancer, infections and other conditions.

Possible Complications

In rare cases, people are allergic to a common type of plastic used in dentures. In these cases, other plastics can be used instead. Also, some people have had allergic reactions to a component of the metal used in partial dentures. Most manufacturers have stopped using this component. This type of allergy is generally not an issue anymore.

Most problems that people have with dentures result from poor oral hygiene or not following a dentist's instructions. For example, you need to clean your dentures properly. If you don't, your gums can become irritated. If you don't eat a balanced diet, you may be more likely to get fungal infections in your mouth.

To prevent most problems:

  • Follow your dentist's instructions.
  • Clean your dentures and the inside of your mouth daily.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Contact your dentist if your dentures seem ill fitting or painful.
  • See your dentist at least every six months, even if you are not having discomfort.

Denture Care

Dentures are not permanent fixtures in your mouth. You need to take them out when you sleep.

Store them in water or in a denture cleaning solution in a covered container. Change the water or solution daily and wash the container.

Your dentures need to be cleaned thoroughly twice a day using specially designed denture brushes. Brush and massage the inside of your mouth to clean away debris. This also helps maintain good circulation in your gums.

Some people use denture adhesives, such as powders or pastes. Adhesives can be useful in keeping dentures from slipping or falling out. They are especially helpful for people whose jawbones have shrunk considerably. However, they should not be used to make up for poorly fitting dentures.

If your dentures start slipping or become uncomfortable, visit your dentist. They may need adjusting or refitting. Most repairs can be done right in the dentist's office, so you don't need to spend days without your dentures. Never attempt to repair or refit your dentures yourself. You could cause injury or affect the health of your mouth.

Relining and Rebasing

Dentures usually need to be altered from time to time. That's because the gums and bone supporting the dentures change over time. Relining and rebasing are ways to adjust your dentures so they fit more securely. Rebasing involves making an entirely new denture base. Relining adjusts the existing base. In both procedures, the teeth that are in your denture are not changed.

Relining involves putting a new surface on the part of the denture that fits against your gums. After teeth are extracted, the bone that once held your teeth shrinks. This process is called bone resorption. It is common to discover that dentures no longer fit properly as the resorption continues. If the denture is otherwise in good shape, your dentist may recommend an office reline. An office reline takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

There are two types of relines, soft and hard. Each uses different materials. The material for soft relines remains somewhat flexible. If you pressed the material with your fingernail, you would see an impression. Resin used for hard relines does not have this flexibility. It is more stable than the material used in soft relines and less likely to support bacteria growth.

Soft relines are generally considered temporary. The material used is biodegradable. It is not meant to last more than a few weeks to a few months. Soft relines can be repeated at regular intervals if your jawbone can't tolerate the force of a hard-reline material. The softer material absorbs some of the stress of chewing. Some people receive a soft reline if the gums need to heal from the effects of an ill-fitting denture or another injury. In this situation, a hard reline would be done after the gums are healthy.

Rebasing is less common than relining. It involves replacing the entire base of the denture, but keeping the teeth. The process is more complex than relining. You will be without your dentures for a period of time. This could be one day or several days.

Which One Is Right for You?
Your dentist will assess your situation and discuss a possible treatment plan. Make sure that you ask your dentist why he or she is proposing the treatment and how long you will be without your denture.