What is a denture?
A denture is used to replace missing teeth in the mouth and can be taken out of the mouth by the patient. The main body of the denture is commonly made of acrylic and may or may not include metal components in its design. Depending on the condition of the teeth remaining, the choice of the material will be advised by the dentist.
Dentures can be made immediately after extraction of teeth or ideally after the bone and gums have healed (usually 2-3months later). Immediate dentures tend to become loose as the bone and gums will change and remodel themselves during the healing process, hence adjustments will be required.
There are two types of dentures – partial dentures and full dentures
Partial dentures are dentures made to replace a single or a few teeth in the mouth, utilizing both the existing teeth and soft tissue for support.
Full dentures are dentures made to replace all the teeth in the same arch, and can be held in the mouth by the soft tissue musculature or supplemented by implants.
What does the procedure involve?
A full dental examination of the mouth must first be done before planning for a denture in the mouth. Teeth with poor prognosis may need to be extracted and any other restorative work such as fillings, root canal treatment or crowns should be carried out first. Dentures usually involve 5 visits to ensure that the dentures can be properly customized to your mouth but it can vary between cases.
From the first visit, the patient will be involved in the design of the denture through discussion with the dentist about how they want the denture to look in their mouth. Any history of denture wear will also be discussed to assess the patient’s past experiences with dentures and what they would like to expect out of the new denture being fabricated.
Bringing home your dentures
If it is your very first set of dentures, it will take some time for you to get used to them. Eating and speaking with dentures can be awkward at first and will require some practice. Within the first month of receiving the dentures, the dentist will review your denture wear after 2 or 3 weeks to assess how you are adapting to them. Minor adjustments will be made at that visit if required. It is common to have minor irritation with the denture but there should not be any pain or discomfort when using them. Even with dentures, it is important to have regular dental checks to review the soft tissues in the mouth as things will naturally change with age.
Your dentures need to be removed from the mouth when you sleep to ensure that bacteria does not build up on the denture and on the teeth at night. Dentures need to be thoroughly brushed daily just like normal teeth to ensure food and plaque does not build up on them. After brushing, they can be soaked in plain water or a denture cleaning solution overnight to prevent the dentures from drying out. If there are any chips or cracks in the denture, return to the dentist to have it repaired.