Dentures: What You Need to Know
Over 35 million people in America are edentulous, meaning that they have no teeth. About 90 percent of these people wear dentures, and another 15 percent opt to have dentures made every year. In addition, 178 million people are missing one or more teeth. Numbers are expected to grow over time, especially as the population ages, making dentures more common among American adults.
Being partially or completely without teeth may not only be uncomfortable but also unhealthy. Without a full set of strong teeth, it’s difficult to eat nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’ve lost so many teeth that you can’t bite or chew anything, you may be limited to soft, pureed or liquid foods and lose much of the enjoyment associated with eating.
Losing teeth gives your face a sunken appearance that makes you look older, but getting dentures restores the natural curve of your cheeks and gives you back your bright smile. Being able to eat, drink and speak comfortably can make you more confident when interacting with others. Your dentist can tell you whether or not dentures are the right solution for your situation.
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If your dentist determines that you would benefit from dentures, you’ll have two options to consider: complete or partial. Complete dentures come in various forms:
- Conventional – A full set of teeth made after your remaining teeth are removed and the gums have healed. This may mean waiting several months to wear your dentures.
- Immediate – Dentures that are constructed before tooth removal and worn immediately.
A Partial denture is a removable appliance that replaces the missing teeth in your mouth. Partial dentures preserve the health of your remaining teeth and prevent them from shifting.
Acclimating to Dentures
Dentures may cause gum irritation or increase the flow of saliva at first, but symptoms should subside as your mouth gets used to having them in place. Depending on how long you were without teeth, you may need to practice talking and eating. It’s a good idea to avoid excessively hard or sticky foods. These can be difficult to chew and may adhere to your dentures.
Some people experience problems with looseness when first wearing dentures. If these problems persist, talk to your dentist about fixing the fit or using a denture adhesive. Not all people need to use an adhesive, but some find that it makes dentures feel more stable and secure.
Caring for Your Dentures
To ensure that your dentures remain in good shape, a daily care regimen is required:
- Remove dentures and rinse them after eating to dislodge food particles.
- Remove and brush dentures at night using a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste.
- Soak overnight in a solution of water and denture cleaner.
- Avoid whitening products and boiling water. Both can damage dentures.
- Clean the rest of your mouth each night to minimize the risk of infection.
Proper maintenance will keep your replacement teeth looking bright and new. As you perform these routines, handle dentures with care to prevent breakage.
Throughout the time you wear dentures, continue to see your dentist on a regular basis. He or she can help you with fitting problems, explain cleaning procedures and offer guidance on how to live more comfortably with these common dental appliances. Routine dentist visits will also ensure that the rest of your mouth stays healthy so that your experience with dentures is a comfortable one.