Removable dentures are one of the most common ways of replacing missing teeth. Dentures can replace either a few teeth – a partial denture – or a whole set – complete dentures. Some people are worried that others will be able to tell immediately that they have dentures, but the quality and appearance of today’s dentures is far better than ever before.
If you have lost some teeth, dentures can improve the way you look, bite, chew and speak. The teeth that are left are protected from wear and tear. Without dentures, the natural teeth may move or tilt, stopping your teeth biting together properly. Dentures can be fitted immediately after teeth have been taken out so that nobody will know that you have had a tooth out. These are called ‘immediate’ dentures.
Dentures will never feel like your own teeth and it can take time to get used to them. If you haven’t had a denture before, the dentist will want to explain the difficulties of wearing dentures, as well as the benefits and how you should look after your new dentures and the teeth you have left.
Complete dentures are best made of acrylic (plastic). Partial dentures can also be made wholly of acrylic. Alternatively, they can consist of acrylic teeth on a light metal alloy base: this type of partial denture is more secure and less bulky, but also more expensive.
To make sure that the dentures fit your mouth properly, the dentist uses a putty-like material to make moulds – called ‘impressions’ – of your mouth. A dental technician uses them to make models for the denture to be built on. Sometimes, second impressions are taken.
The technician makes wax blocks which fit the models. The dentist puts these in your mouth to record the position of your jaws in relation to each other. The dentist then trims and seals the wax blocks to show the technician how your teeth should bite together and the shape to make the denture.
A trial denture is made and put in your mouth. The dentist will ask you how it fits, feels and looks before they make any final changes.
The trial denture then goes back to the technician who permanently fixes the teeth. The denture is then ready to use. The dentist may want to see you again fairly soon to see how you are getting on with the denture. If there are problems, they can make small adjustments
Cleaning Your Dentures
If you have dentures, it’s important to keep them clean. Looking after them can be much easier than looking after your natural teeth, as you can take them out and have a good look to make sure you haven’t left any old food behind. To give them the best clean, follow these simple tips:
- Clean your denture over a basin of water – then, if you drop it, it’s unlikely to get damaged
- Make sure you brush your denture every day, just as you would your own teeth. You should use a soft to medium brush – which won’t scratch the denture – and either your regular toothpaste or soap and water. Make sure you rinse it before putting it back in your mouth.
- You can also soak your denture using a special solution or tablets. Remember, though, that you will still need to brush the denture to make sure it’s really clean. Again, you’ll need to rinse it before putting it back in your mouth.