Article by Dr Aodhan Docherty
Dentures or ‘false teeth’ have been used as a solution for missing teeth for hundreds of years and still continue to be a cost effective and viable option.
There are two common types of dentures: full (complete) dentures which replace all of the teeth in one jaw, and partial dentures which replace only a few missing teeth. Many of my patients in my Sydney clinics favour this option as advances in dentistry means that the dentures we make today are more comfortable, better looking and are better equipped for eating than ever before. In this blog post, I would like to discuss the most common questions I get asked in my practice to help you decide if you should get a denture.
Getting used to new dentures
- I always say that new dentures are like a new pair of shoes, it takes time to wear them in. They will inevitably feel strange at first and it takes time for your gums, cheeks, facial muscles and tongue to adjust. It is not uncommon that new dentures will need a few follow up appointments for minor adjustments to relieve ulcers or sore spots. If these sore spots develop then make sure you book a visit with your dentist, and that for the 24 hours prior to the appointment you wear the dentures- this may be uncomfortable however it will show your dentist exactly where the adjustment is required.
When do I take my dentures out?
- You must always take your dentures out at night whilst you sleep. This is very important because you need to let your gums ‘breathe’ so to say and this will ensure they stay healthy. Otherwise I commonly see oral thrush and ulcers in people who sleep with their dentures.
How long does it take for my speech to return to normal?
- It commonly takes at least a few weeks for speech to adjust to new dentures. Certain words may be harder to pronounce than others and you can work on this by reading out loud and practicing the words which are challenging. I encourage my patients to read the morning paper out loud at the breakfast table or the current book which they are reading. You are re-training your tongue and this will take time.
Will new dentures affect my eating?
- While getting used to a new set of dentures I recommend eating small pieces of soft food. Try to chew the small portions on both sides of the denture at once which will help with balance. Also avoid any foods which are too sticky, crunchy or those that require too much chewing. As you learn to control and eat with your denture you can broaden your diet until it returns to normal.
- Your sense of taste may change a little during the adjustment phase, but will return to normal with time.
How do I take care of dentures?
- Dentures, like natural teeth develop stains, plaque and hard tarter. This causes bad breathe and an unhealthy environment in your mouth. Use a soft brush with denture cleaner paste twice daily to remove all plaque and food debri from the dentures. Nightly soaking of dentures in a denture cleaning solution is also handy to keep them fresh- if you do not have a denture cleaner then equal parts of white vinegar and water can be used.
- At your regular check-up the dentist will use a steam cleaner and instruments to remove the plaque, tarter and stains which inevitably form on the denture (as it does on natural teeth).
Do I still need to use a toothbrush now?
- It is very important to continue with daily hygiene, such as twice daily brushing of the inside of your cheeks, gums and tongue with a soft brush and toothpaste. Removing food, plaque and bacteria from these areas will help keep your breathe fresh and reduce your chance of developing any conditions such as oral thrush. If you have any remaining teeth then continue to brush them as per normal to prevent decay or gum disease.
More questions? Contact our friendly Reception team for a full consultation to find out if dentures are the right choice for you. Call us on (02)9415 3555 or enquire here.
Dr Aodhan Docherty is a Sydney dentist who practises at About Smiles Dental Centres. He is experience in all aspects of general and cosmetic dentistry, and has an ongoing collaboration for Aged Care Report Card website.