Dentures are prosthetic devices replacing lost teeth. There are two types of dentures – partial and full. Full dentures are often referred to as “false teeth”.
A complete denture is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated two different ways.
- A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed.
- An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are allowed to heal under the denture.
- An upper denture has acrylic, usually flesh colored, that covers the palate (roof of the mouth).
- A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue.
The teeth are made of plastic, porcelain or a combination thereof. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over root canal treated teeth and a complete denture can be attached to implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance.
Dentures, over a normal course of time, will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dentist examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.
A partial denture (or removable partial denture), is one or more false teeth are held in place by clasps or acrylic that fit onto nearby healthy teeth. You can take the false teeth out yourself, for cleaning and at night.
Homecare For Your Denture
You need to care for complete and partial dentures as carefully as you would look after natural teeth. Taking care of your dentures and your mouth is vital to your overall oral health. Here are some of my tips on how to keep them in good condition:
- Clean dentures over a water-filled sink to prevent damage if they are dropped
- Alternatively, place a face cloth in the sink prior to cleaning the dentures to prevent breakage if the dentures are dropped.
- Clean your dentures every day. Plaque and tartar can build up on false teeth, just like they do on natural teeth.
- Soak them overnight. They can be soaked in a special cleaner for false teeth (denture cleanser), in warm water or in a mix of warm water and vinegar (half and half). If your denture has metal clasps, use warm water only for soaking. Soaking will loosen plaque and tartar. They will then come off more easily when you brush.
- Hold your denture gently to prevent breakage
- Place a small amount of liquid hand soap on a denture brush or soft toothbrush and brush all surfaces, including the clasps on a partial denture
- Rinse your dentures well with water
- Rinse your dentures under water after meals to remove loose food debris
- To re-insert dentures, wet first with water to prevent discomfort
- Remove your dentures at night to give your gums a chance to rest. Brush your teeth and gums carefully, using a soft toothbrush. Be sure to clean and massage your gums. If your toothbrush hurts you, run it under warm water to make it softer or try using a finger wrapped in a clean, damp cloth.
People who have complete or partial dentures can also get gum disease around any natural teeth that are left. If you have gum disease:
- Your false teeth will not fit well over gums that are sore, swollen or bleeding.
- Your partial dentures (or removable dentures) will not be held firmly in place if your natural teeth and gums are not strong.
Be sure to visit Dr. Steffens regularly for professional cleaning and dental exams, so that she can detect any early signs of gum disease, and provide the appropriate treatment.