Whether you've worn dentures for a while or just had them fitted for the first time, we're sure that you'll find this a useful guide to denture care. You're not on your own - about one adult in four wears dentures. That's millions of others like you, with the same kind of questions and experiences. By answering some of those questions, this guide may help you adapt to your dentures. However, if you are unsure about anything, then ask your dentist.

What exactly are dentures?

Dentures are worn to replace your natural teeth. They are usually made from lifelike resin teeth bonded to a plastic base. You'll either have been fitted with a complete denture to replace all your teeth, or a partial denture. Partial dentures are usually held in place by a clasps or metal clips which fit around some of your remaining natural teeth.

Will anyone be able to tell them from my natural teeth?

Not easily. With today's technology dentures can be made to look so natural that people can't tell who's wearing them. Your dentist has custom made your dentures to fit with your mouth, so they'll take on the character of your original teeth, leaving your appearance the same as before. The colour of the teeth is carefully selected, either to match your remaining natural teeth, or simply to look as natural as possible.

How easy is it to adjust to wearing them?

While your dentures have been custom made, they may initially feel a little strange, or even rather a mouthful, however, rest assured that they only feel that way, you yourself won't look any different. You may also find you produce more saliva than normal but this should settle down soon enough.

The time it takes to adjust to wearing new dentures is different for everyone, but you'll soon learn how to eat, talk and smile as you would with natural teeth. Some people find it helpful to practice speaking or reading in front of a mirror to help them get used to the position and feel of the denture in the mouth.

Can I take my dentures out at night?

It may help you to adjust to your new dentures if you keep them in place for the first few nights, allowing them to settle in. If you decide to keep them in overnight after that, it is important that you clean them thoroughly before you go to bed, just as you would your real teeth. If you don't mind leaving them out at night, your mouth and gums will have time to recover from the effort of supporting your dentures during the day and will experience the soothing effects of saliva flow. If you're not sure, ask your dentist.

If my dentures hurt what do I do?

If you have any pain whatsoever, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible, don't wait for your regular six monthly visit. Pain shouldn't occur and probably means something's not quite right. Don't take your dentures out though, leave them in, that way, when you visit the dentist he will be able to see where it's sore and sort the problem out quicker.

Will I feel self-conscious?

You may feel uneasy at first, like you would in any new situation, but once you've got used to the feel of them, your self-consciousness should disappear. It may take a little time, but eventually you'll feel as confident as before.

Will my sense of taste be affected?

This a quite a common worry, but the fact is that your teeth have nothing to do with your sense of taste. Your taste buds are mainly on your tongue and they'll still be there so eventually everything will not taste too different.

However, at first food may not taste the same, as your dentures will interfere with your tastebuds while your mouth adjusts to the feel of the denture. Your ability to sense hot food and drink may also be affected, so for a while it is a good idea to avoid very hot food and drinks, as you may burn yourself.

Do I play a role in how successful my dentures are?

Yes. Learning to eat with artificial teeth requires considerable skill and practice. This is because every person's mouth has different structure which can affect the retention and stability of the denture. Also the level of suction which helps hold the denture in place, particularly the upper denture, will vary dependent upon the amount of saliva produced.

Many denture wearers find the lower denture particularly difficult to manage at first. Experience will help, as will the use of a carefully selected denture adhesive, which is a useful aid to assisting with denture retention and stability.

What about eating out?

Once you get used to them, there is absolutely no reason why you should feel too restricted by your dentures. You will, with experience, be able to enjoy your meals. At first it's probably a good idea to eat softer food and to cut your food up into smaller pieces, just until you get used to your dentures.

While you learn to use your dentures, it's also a good idea to take smaller mouthfuls and chew slowly. Gradually you'll get better as time goes on. After you put your food into your mouth, try to divide it in two and then chew each half at the back of each side of your mouth. This even pressure on your dentures will help stop them tipping and make them feel more stable.

A lot of denture wearers avoid food like toffee, crusty bread, nuts and apples because they're worried these might displace their dentures. They also avoid fruit with seeds and pips, as they can get trapped under their dentures, and can be really irritating, even painful - you may find a denture adhesive can help.

So what are denture adhesives?

However well-fitting your dentist has managed to make your dentures, they can never provide the same strong biting surface as natural teeth. Using a denture adhesive should dispel many of the doubts and fears you may have. An adhesive will help in many ways, whether you've just had your dentures fitted, or you've have them for a long time.

An adhesive provides you with three benefits - comfort, protection and confidence. You'll feel better about eating, talking, playing sports - especially swimming, which puts the suction of complete dentures at risk when water gets into the mouth.

How do I take care of my dentures?

When cleaning your dentures always remove them from your mouth beforehand to clean them properly. As a general guide, remember that dentures are fragile and need to be handled carefully when out of the mouth.

Firstly place a small hand towel in the basin, or partially fill the basin with water. Once this is done you should hold your dentures over the basin whilst brushing them If your dentures accidentally slip out of your hands they will land on a soft surface reducing the chance of breakage.

Can dentures be repolished?

Yes they can. After considerable use, dentures can become slightly dull and rough on the surface. However, if you take them back to your dentist, they can be repolished and restored to their original appearance.

What are some denture problems?

Do I still need to visit my dentist after I start wearing dentures?

Yes. Your dentures are made from materials that are softer than your natural teeth, so they'll eventually need replacing. Also, your mouth changes shape after your teeth have been removed and even losing weight can affect the shape of your mouth. So to make sure that your dentures continue to fit properly, it is important that you visit your dentist at least once a year to have them checked. If you have partial dentures you should visit your dentist every six months.

Source: Denture Care Brochure - Produced by Stafford-Miller Ltd and Polident

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