The aim of this leaflet is to provide basic information on looking after your dentures

There are a number of different types of dentures; initially we will deal with general care, and then some specific details on each type of denture.

It is best to start with the observation that artificial teeth only substitute for the real thing and can never be as efficient as natural teeth.  You have spent a considerable amount of time and money having these new dentures made and like all new things, it will take some time for them to settle in. You must look after them carefully in order to have good service.

Initial Problems

Your dentist will show you how to place and remove your dentures. Be sure you can do this properly before you leave the surgery. Even if you have worn dentures before, your new dentures will almost certainly feel strange at first.  This is because your mouth takes some time to adapt to the new dentures.  When eating, start with soft crisp food, such as lightly cooked vegetables. Take in small amounts and chew slowly, trying to chew on your own teeth rather than the denture where possible.  With full dentures, it can help to chew on both sides at once.

It can also help to practice talking, and one easy solution for this is to read aloud for some time each day. Generally, speech is back to normal within a week.

It is completely normal to get increased salivary flow as your subconscious assumes the dentures are food, which triggers saliva production.  This response settles down within a few days.

In most cases, your dentist will have arranged a review visit. This is to check the dentures are fitting properly, functioning well, and to deal with any other problems you may experience.

Often more than one adjustment may be necessary.

The general advice is that dentures should be removed  before going to bed as this gives your gums a chance to recover. Initially, it can help with new dentures to leave them in place for 24 hours a day for several days, removing them only to clean any remaining teeth and the dentures, This helps your subconscious get used to the feel of the new dentures.

Cleaning

The dentures should be cleaned thoroughly with a soft brush and need to be kept in water overnight to prevent them drying out.  New dentures are highly polished and very slippery; therefore they should be cleaned over a folded towel or a half full basin of water until you are used to them. Both the inside and outside surfaces of the dentures need thorough cleaning.

They are made from acrylic, so aggressive scrubbing will wear them away.  Do not use very hot water, kitchen detergents, abrasives, laundry bleaches, methylated spirit or any antiseptic unless otherwise instructed. Denture cleaners can be used but are not strictly necessary if the dentures are kept clean by mechanical brushing.

If tartar build-up is noted on the dentures, try soaking them each night in a mixture of one part white vinegar and four parts water. This generally helps to remove or soften the tartar.

Repairs

If you break your dentures, please contact the surgery or bring them in so we can see what is required in order to repair them. Generally, it is advised not to attempt a repair yourself, as it is difficult to do it accurately more than once. This can make a proper repair difficult and more costly.

Full Dentures

It can take up to 48 hours for full dentures to properly bed in, so we are not usually concerned about suction problems for the first few days.

Sometimes they also ride up on the harder   areas of gum which show up as sore spots, and   this stops the dentures settling in properly.

If you are finding the upper denture difficult to tolerate then it is one of the few times the dentist will recommend the use of sweets. A boiled sweet or mint held on the tongue will distract the tongue while you are getting used to the feel of the denture.

Denture adhesives can help with upper denture retention, but the narrow width of lower full dentures will unfortunately, generally make adhesives useless.

Partial Dentures

Teeth are normally lost through decay or gum   disease, both of which are caused by the accumulation of bacteria (biofilm/plaque) on the teeth.  The presence of dentures tends to make biofilm accumulate more readily and so it is important that you clean your teeth even more carefully than before to avoid further problems developing. Obviously the teeth should be cleaned without  the denture in place. Sometimes the position, angulation or shape of remaining teeth can make insertion or removal of the denture tricky, but after a few days it usually becomes easier. If not, adjustments can help.

Chrome frame dentures

These usually cause few problems; however, the accuracy of the fit can make locating any problems more difficult. They are also more difficult to adjust where the stainless-steel frame is involved

Similarly, they can be fiddly to place and remove until you have become used to them. Despite the above problems, dentures with a metal frame are usually very successful and can offer a long service life.

The instructions given for cleaning the adjacent teeth for partial acrylic dentures are just as important for partial chrome dentures.

If you use proprietary denture cleansers, please ensure they are compatible with a metal frame.

Immediate Dentures

These dentures are made by the technician guessing the what the shape of the gum will be after the dentist has extracted the teeth.   Coupled with the fact that you are usually partially numb when the denture is fitted, adjustments will usually be necessary the next day.

It is normally recommended that immediate dentures are left in place for the first 24 hours, being taken out only to clean the denture after meals.

The gum will always shrink as it heals, and this means the denture may need refitting, for which there may be an additional charge. Most of the change happens in the first three months after extractions and then slowly continues for the rest of your life

How long will they last?  

The normal service life of dentures varies hugely, as it depends on which types of denture you have, how hard you chew and how adaptive you are to the slow change that occurs.

As a rough guide, full dentures function very well for the first 5 years, and often may need replacing at ten years. They can benefit from a reline of the denture at 3-4 years to improve the fit. Replacing one of a pair is very limiting and is often not advisable.

Partial dentures often need replacing if they begin to fracture frequently as this is an indicator of poor underlying fit, or a problem with repair alignment. Their appearance is often poor by 7-10 years.

Chrome frames often survive very well, but the acrylic teeth wear out and need replacing in 5-10 years.

Severe wear in any denture cannot be rectified without replacement.