How to Care for Your Dentures

Denture Duty: From Composition to Care
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Dental care practices have improved over the years, reducing the rate of tooth loss and promoting retention of natural teeth. When permanent teeth are extracted due to irreparable damage, replacement with dental appliances such as bridges, dentures, or implants becomes necessary to preserve tooth alignment. Prosthodontic solutions will prevent remaining teeth from shifting toward the gap created by missing teeth and affecting facial structure and expression.

Data from the Dental Resource Center indicates that almost 90 percent of completely edentulous people wear complete dentures. For those who suffer from partial tooth loss, 97 percent wear partial dentures for the upper section, and about 81 percent wear dentures fitted for the lower arch.

Composition of Dentures

Dentures have to be precisely engineered for each dental patient. This is done by creating an impression (cast) of the arches and remaining teeth. A cast is created, and the dentures will be molded from this cast. Fitting and readjusting may require several office visits until dentures sit perfectly in the mouth.

Dentures may be produced in various styles, using various materials. Typically, complete and partial dentures are fashioned from high-quality acrylic resins to make them more durable and more attractive. The resin material is resistant to grinding, and artificial teeth made from this material can last about five to eight years. Porcelain, which resembles the enamel of natural teeth, may also be used for the dentures slated to replace more conspicuous upper front teeth. However, porcelain can damage the natural teeth, so it may not be the best choice where dentures grind against existing teeth.

Handle With Care

Dentures may withstand a lot of action, but they need to be treated with care.

  • Handle them over a sink filled with water or over a towel-covered counter to avoid dropping them on hard surfaces.
  • Be gentle with the clasps when manipulating and cleaning.
  • The mouth's arches will change over time, affecting the fit of the dentures. Avoid do-it-yourself denture repair kits, as these could damage them permanently.
  • Only a dentist or a dental laboratory should make changes to dentures.

Cleaning Your Dentures

Like natural teeth, dentures should be cleaned after eating. Rinse in running water to remove food debris and prevent permanent stains. Clean your mouth thoroughly before replacing your dentures.

Dentures can be scrubbed using a soft brush and mild soap, dishwashing liquid, or a denture cleanser. Harsh toothpastes and cleansers should not be used on dentures, to prevent surface damage. Whitening toothpastes are particularly abrasive on resin-based dentures.

Another option is to use an ultrasonic cleaner, which is a small bathtub-like device containing a cleaning solution. Dentures are immersed in the tub, where a sound wave mechanism dislodges food deposits. However, ultrasonic cleaning cannot replace thorough brushing on a daily basis.

Storing Your Dentures

Dentists recommend removing dentures before going to bed. This will allow your gums to recover from the pressure of supporting the dentures. Most types of dentures should be soaked overnight to keep them moist and ensure that they retain their shape. Overnight soaking helps remove stains, plaque, tartar, and bacteria.

  • Use clean water or a mild denture cleanser as a soaking solution. Make sure the tablets or cleanser are safe for dentures with metal parts.
  • To prevent tarnishing, avoid chlorine solutions if dentures have metal parts.
  • Rinse dentures in running water before wearing them again to prevent ingesting any residue from denture cleansers.

Long-Term Maintenance and Oral Care

Ill-fitting dentures can cause irritation, sores, and pain in the mouth. They will also affect your ability to chew food properly. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist when you experience problems with your dentures. Expect to encounter some slippage and discomfort, even if your dentures initially fit perfectly, because the gums and mouth change over time.

Adjustments, relining, or rebasing loose dentures should be done by a dentist. Often, minor problems such as chips, cracks, and loose teeth can be repaired during an office visit, but complicated changes will require the services of a dental laboratory.

Regular dental visits should catch any problems before they get worse. The dentist will examine your mouth, and your dentures will be cleaned professionally during this visit. The dentist is your best resource for cleaning and soaking products suitable for dentures. In general, oral care products with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance are recommended, because they have been evaluated according to safety and effectiveness guidelines.