Most people know someone who has either full or partial dentures, but few understand why exactly dentures are important to their dental health. Missing teeth are far more than a cosmetic problem. When you are missing several teeth, your remaining teeth will often adjust as they try to fill the gap. Not only can this cause serious dental issues such as bone loss, further tooth loss, and gum disease, eventually the remaining teeth will pull out of their sockets as they adjust. This can be quite painful, and may cause problems with chewing and speaking properly.
Types of Dentures
There are two main types of dentures: full dentures and partial dentures. Full dentures are placed after your remaining teeth have been removed and the gum tissues have completely healed. Because the process of healing can take several months, you will be given a temporary set of dentures that will allow you to continue speaking and eating normally.
Partial dentures are used when you are only missing a small number of teeth and the remaining teeth are in good shape. They are often used as a removable alternative to dental bridges, particularly in cases where the surrounding teeth are not healthy enough to support the anchoring crowns that would be necessary for a dental bridge.
Adjusting to your dentures
Getting used to your dentures will take some time. In the beginning they may feel awkward, and it can take up to a few months for them to feel more natural. Initially they will feel loose or bulky, even when they’re not. It takes time for your cheek and tongue muscles to learn to hold the dentures in place. This is why many dentists are now recommending dental implants to help patients adjust to their dentures more quickly.
Caring for your dentures
Your dentures will need to be cared for in much the same way your regular teeth did. You will need to brush them regularly. Removable dentures and partials will need to be placed into a soaking solution or water any time you’re not wearing them to prevent them from drying out. You will also need to brush your gums, tongue, and roof of your mouth every morning before inserting your dentures to remove plaque and stimulate circulation, which can help prevent bone and gum loss.
Over time, your dentures may become loose and need to be adjusted. The dentures will also need to be checked for cracks, chips, or breaks by your dentist regularly, as they are not as strong as your natural teeth. It is important that you continue a regular bi-annual schedule of dental visits so that both you and your dentures can be kept in the best shape possible over time.