Dentures – everything you need to know

If you have missing teeth, you’re probably busy researching how you can restore your smile and make eating more enjoyable once again. With so many options available, it’s often hard to see the wood for the trees. Dental bridges and dental implants often spring to mind but it’s important not to discount dentures as the solution to your winning smile.

In this expert blog post, our London-based dentist takes a detailed look at everything you need to know about dentures.

Types of dentures

The types of dentures vary enormously depending upon your clinical situation. Dentures can be classified as either full or partial.

What is a full denture?

Full dentureFull dentures replace all of your teeth and with the denture removed you would have no teeth in that particular arch (either top or bottom).

Full dentures can either sit on the gum, and be held in by suction, or be supported by dental implants, which makes them more secure.

What is a partial denture?

A partial denturePartial dentures replace only a few teeth. With partial dentures there is not enough material to create a suction to hold them in.

Partial dentures therefore either need to be supported by dental implants or by clasps, which grip around the adjacent teeth.

Problems with dentures

One of the biggest problems with dentures is that of retention. So, how do your dentures stay fixed securely so that you can wear them with confidence? Here are four things you need to carefully consider.

  1. Dentures are inherently a separate item in your mouth and are not permanently fixed in (unless they are held in by dental implants). This means that they need some other mechanical force to hold them in place.
  2. With full dentures this mechanical force is the suction, which the denture has over the underlying gum. In order for this suction to be at its greatest, the denture needs to fit extremely well. If there are large gaps underneath the denture, the suction cannot be maintained and the denture will become loose.
  3. The biggest reason that dentures don’t fit is that over time, the bone around your jaw will resorb and shrink. As it does this, it slowly moves away from the base of your denture and creates gaps. This is a natural occurrence.
  4. To overcome this, your denture needs to be routinely relined. This reline will fill in the gap between where your denture is and where your gum has resorbed to. Without this reline your denture will not fit and the suction holding force will be reduced.

ID-10040609nixxphotography.How should dentures be stored?

Most dentures include an amount of acrylic resin, specifically polymethylmethacrylate.

This acrylic resin has a tendency to dry out very quickly. This can cause stress lines to form, which can end up turning white and discolouring the acrylic.

To prevent this, it is recommended to always keep your denture fully hydrated.

For this reason, storing them in water overnight is important.

There are denture cleaning ultrasonic baths available, which can double up as a cleaning mechanism as well as a storage facility. These baths are fairly cost effective and available online.

Do dentures cause jaw pain and headaches?

Typically dentures do not cause jaw pain or headaches. However, poorly made or fitting dentures might. If your jaw muscles are having to work extra hard in order to keep the denture in place whilst eating, then this can translate into headaches and jaw pain.

For this reason, it is important to ensure your dentures are always stable and fit well. Always speak with a reputable dentist with years of experience to give you the assurances you need for total peace of mind.

Wearing dentures for the first time

To help first time wearers, we have developed five top tips for learning to cope with dentures.

  1. Be patient. When you first wear dentures you may feel that they are a little bulky and push your lip out. Surprisingly, pushing your lip out (back to where it would have been before you lost your teeth) can give a much more youthful look to the face as lines and wrinkles around the mouth are removed. As time goes by you will get more and more used to dentures and should begin to forget you are wearing them altogether.
  2. Be determined. Deciding at the beginning that you will make your new dentures work will help to ensure that they do just that. The power of positivity!
  3. Learn to chew. Begin with softer foods that you can eat easily. As your skill and confidence builds move on to more challenging food. Be careful about biting with your front teeth if you have full dentures as this may dislodge them.
  4. Consider wearing your new dentures all of the time. If you wear your dentures all of the time, including at night, your facial muscles will become more accustomed to them. This will help to keep your dentures in place during the day.
  5. Keep in contact with your dentist. You may find that you have a few sore spots with new dentures. Be prepared to pop back to the dentist to have these eased inside the denture.

How to make dentures more comfortable

It is possible to put a soft lining inside your denture but this does need to be installed from the outset. If you think you might like a soft lining against your gums, please let your dentist know before the dentures are made.

Modern denture techniques include modern materials and one of these is a flexible denture material. This can be used to make dentures instead of the classical chrome cobalt or hard acrylic. Please ask your dentist for examples of flexible dentures.

How to stop dentures breaking

Dentures normally break for two reasons:

  1. excessive forces in the mouth
  2. being dropped.

Excessive forces in the mouth

This can either be because:

  • you have crunched on something hard or tried to bite something which is too tough
  • the dentures do not fit properly and excessive forces have been applied in a weak area (this may be whilst eating seemingly soft food).
Dentures not fitting

Poorly fitting dentures can cause stress to the denture acrylic resulting in breakages

Clearly you need to be careful about what you eat as putting excessive strain on the acrylic will break it. You also need to make sure that you continue to visit the dentist regularly. If your dentures do not fit properly, undue forces can be put in weak areas.

Your dentures may fit perfectly at the beginning but your gums will change shape over time and your dentures will not. This can create gaps underneath your denture. The places where the denture touches your gum can then become sore and also mean that your denture is not supported, creating weak areas.

Well-fitting dentures are much stronger and your older dentures may need relining to bring them back to their initial well-fitting state.

Water with sinkDentures breaking from dropping

The classic place to break a denture is to drop it into the sink whilst cleaning.

This is very simple to avoid, simply fill the sink with water prior to cleaning your dentures….problem solved!

The Dental Centre London is a general dental practice in the heart of Euston with a special interest in producing cosmetic dentures to the highest standard.

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