Dentures are removable false teeth. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps. Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. A denture replacing one or more tooth is called a partial denture. Sometimes all the teeth need to be removed and replaced. A denture replacing all of the teeth is called a complete denture.
A full denture will be fitted if all your upper or lower teeth need to be removed or you’re having an old complete denture replaced. If you are having your teeth removed, your new denture can be fitted as soon as your teeth are removed, which means you won’t be without teeth for long. If you have dentures fitted immediately after the removal of several teeth, the gums and bone will alter in shape fairly quickly and the dentures will probably need remaking after a few months.
A partial denture usually clips onto some of your natural teeth with or without metal clasps, which hold it securely in place in your mouth. It can easily be unclipped and removed. Occasionally, the clips can be made of a tooth-coloured or gum-coloured material, although this type of clip isn’t always suitable because it tends to be more brittle than metal.
Dentures can be made from different materials, each have their pros and cons.
Acrylic-based dentures are made of a resin material, which is moulded according to the shape of your jaw and gums. It fits snuggly over your gums and should stay there with the help of suction between denture base and your gums, and also with the help of muscle tone. The dentures typically cover a large gum area to provide sufficient suction for retention and support. Metal clasps can be added if necessary to provide additional support.
The main advantage of these dentures is ease of manufacture and repair (including adding additional teeth if required in the future).
Metal fused with acrylic
These dentures involve a cobalt-chrome based metal framework that is fused with acrylic to support artificial teeth. Due to the metal framework, these dentures can be made smaller and less intrusive. These dentures typically take support from one of the natural existing teeth by mean of clasps and rests and can provide very good retention and support. These dentures are not easy to repair or add additional teeth to, and if they lose adaptation they need to be replaced.
This type of denture is suitable only for partial dentures. They are made from a flexible resin, so they can be more comfortable than acrylic or metal-based dentures. Teeth can be added onto them, and they are less brittle so less likely to fracture. Due to the material, they are more likely to pick up stain over time.
Millions of people around the world are missing enough teeth to require the use of a denture. Many of them struggle to keep their dentures secure, particularly in the lower jaw. If you have this problem, you already know about the embarrassment of slipping dentures, not being able to eat the foods that you love and the ineffectiveness of denture adhesives.
Fortunately, there is a way to make your denture work the way it was intended: stabilise it with dental implants.
If you are interested in implant-supported dentures, please speak to your dentist who will give you more information about this.
Looking After Your Dentures
Dentures may feel a bit strange to begin with, but you’ll soon get used to wearing them. For the first couple of days, you may need to wear your dentures all the time, including while sleeping. Your dentist will advise you that, thereafter, you should remove your dentures before you go to sleep. Dentures should be cleaned twice a day with warm soapy water and a soft brush – try to avoid using toothpaste as this can take the shine off the denture. We recommend cleaning your denture over a sink of water or a soft towel, as if they are dropped they can break! If using a denture cleaning solution, follow the manufacturers instructions.
Keeping your mouth clean is just as important when you wear dentures. You should remove your denture and brush your remaining teeth, gums and tongue every morning and evening with fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems.
Eating with Dentures
When you first start wearing dentures, you should eat soft foods cut into small pieces and chew slowly, using both sides of your mouth. Avoid chewing gum and any food that’s sticky, hard or has sharp edges. You can gradually start to eat other types of food until you’re back to your old diet.
If your jawbone has shrunk significantly, adhesive may be the only way to help retain your dentures. Your dentist will advise you if this is the case. At first, some people feel more confident with their dentures if they use adhesive. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using excessive amounts.
Adhesive can be removed from the denture by brushing with soap and water. Remnants of adhesive left in the mouth may need to be removed with some damp kitchen roll or a clean damp flannel.