Over 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, while 36 million are missing all their teeth. Dentures have been the go-to treatment for replacing missing teeth for decades, and today’s dentures are far from the dentures available a generation ago.
Two important factors make modern dentures more natural and comfortable than ever — materials and workmanship. Advancements in making impressions and using materials like acrylic, nylon, resin, and porcelain have been a game-changer.
Although dentures are a welcome change from missing teeth, they require an adjustment period, says Ginger Rome, DDS, and the friendly, skilled dental team at The Dentists at North Cypress in Houston, Texas. Here, we share tips to help you get used to your dentures quickly.
Let’s start unpacking this discussion by explaining the types and variations of dentures. There are two main categories – full and partial dentures.
As its name suggests, full dentures, sometimes known as complete dentures, are for patients who need to replace a full top and bottom arch of teeth. A full denture is a removable oral prosthetic device. The top denture covers the roof of the mouth, and the top and bottom denture firmly rests on the gums.
If you are missing one or several teeth but not all your teeth, your dental provider may recommend replacing your missing teeth with a partial denture, also known as a dental bridge. A partial denture “bridges” the gap between the missing teeth. In contrast to a full denture, a partial is typically anchored to your mouth using the neighboring healthy existing teeth.
Your provider installs dental crowns for missing teeth on either side of the gap. Then, your provider attaches the prosthetic to the healthy teeth. This type of denture is handy when replacing missing teeth in the back of the jawbone.
A hybrid variation of full and partial denture, called an implant-supported denture, combines traditional dentures and dental implants. With an implant-supported denture, the prosthetic doesn’t rest on the gums but is anchored to the jawbone using dental implants.
Regardless of the type of denture your provider uses to replace your missing teeth, you can expect to work through an adjustment period, taking up to a month. The period for each patient differs by how quickly they heal, the number of teeth replaced, and if they had teeth extracted prior to getting their dentures. There are several things you can do to help adjust to your dentures more expeditiously and seamlessly.
While it’s true that no one likes to wait, cut yourself some slack and be patient with the healing process. Think of it this way, you’re re-learning to eat and speak with a new oral appliance in your mouth – at the same time you’re healing.
Soreness in the beginning is natural. Do yourself a favor and follow your provider’s post-procedure instructions. During the healing period, the gum changes, which may result in issues fitting with your dentures. If in 30 days the discomfort hasn’t gone away, let your provider know.
It’s not realistic to enjoy a steak dinner right away, even though it’s tempting. Your best bet is to start with a soft mechanical diet that doesn’t require excessive chewing or biting. Foods like ground or thinly shaved meats, cooked and skinned mashed vegetables, canned fruit, and soft cheeses are great to start. As you heal more, you can add foods that require more chewing.
Regardless of what type of denture your provider uses to replace your missing teeth, developing a consistent and vigilant hygiene routine will help keep your prosthetic clean and stain-free and extend its lifetime.
Complete and partial dentures should be soaked in water or a cleaning solution overnight after gently brushing them with a soft toothbrush or denture brush. Always use cleaning solutions made especially for dentures.
Use an implant-supported denture brush and floss like you would with your natural teeth. Your dental provider can advise you on the proper cleaning solutions and how to clean and brush your oral prosthetic device to keep it in tip-top shape for years.
If you are missing teeth, and want to learn more about dentures, contact The Dentists at North Cypress for a consultation by calling or scheduling an appointment online today.