The Beginner’s Guide to Living with Dentures

The decision to get dentures can be a turning point in your life. While there’s an initial adjustment period when living with dentures, it offers renewed confidence and improved oral health. Imagine enjoying your favourite foods again, smiling freely without worry, and experiencing clear, comfortable speech. Dentures offer all this and more!

This comprehensive guide provides you with the knowledge for a smooth transition to living with dentures. We’ll explore the different types of dentures available, offer practical tips for new denture wearers, and provide expert advice on daily care, eating techniques, adjusting dentures, and overcoming denture challenges.

Understanding Dentures

Dentures offer a variety of solutions to restore your smile and improve your oral health.

Types of Dentures

  • Complete Dentures: These dentures replace all your teeth in either your upper or lower jaw or even both. Ideal for individuals who have lost all their natural teeth due to decay, gum disease, or other reasons, complete dentures are typically crafted from acrylic resin and rely on suction or denture adhesives for stability.
  • Partial Dentures: Unlike complete dentures, partials are designed to fill in gaps left by missing teeth while utilising your remaining healthy teeth for support. This makes them a good option for individuals who still have some natural teeth they want to preserve. Partial dentures are usually made from a combination of a metal framework and plastic with replacement teeth attached.
  • Immediate Dentures: Transitioning to dentures can sometimes be emotionally challenging. Immediate dentures offer a solution by being placed in your mouth directly after your teeth are extracted. This allows you to avoid a period without teeth, maintaining your appearance and confidence.
  • Implant-Supported Dentures: For those seeking the most secure and stable option, implant-supported dentures are a game-changer. These dentures utilise dental implants surgically placed in your jawbone. The dentures then clip or attach onto these implants, providing exceptional stability and preventing slipping or discomfort.

Adjusting to Your New Dentures

The first few weeks with dentures can be an adjustment period. Your mouth and gums need time to adapt to the new sensation of dentures filling the space of your missing teeth.

What to Expect

  • Increased Saliva Production: This is a natural reaction as your body adjusts to the presence of dentures in your mouth. It may take some time for your salivary glands to regulate saliva production.
  • Sore Spots: Wearing dentures for extended periods initially might cause irritation or soreness in your gums. This is usually temporary and can be managed with proper care and adjustments.
  • Speaking Challenges: You may experience slight slurring or difficulty pronouncing certain words. This is because your tongue needs to learn to adjust to the new contours of your dentures.

Tips for Speaking and Moving Your Mouth:

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Read aloud from a book or practice conversation with a friend or family member. The more you practise speaking with dentures, the better your pronunciation will become.
  • Sing Along: Singing can be a fun and effective way to train your mouth muscles to work with your dentures. Singing exercises can help improve tongue control and speech clarity.
  • Be Patient: Don’t be discouraged if clear speaking doesn’t happen overnight. With dedicated practice, you’ll regain your natural speech patterns in no time.

Dealing with Discomfort and Soreness

  • Use Denture Adhesive: A well-fitting denture adhesive recommended by your dentist can provide additional stability and reduce pressure on your gums, minimising discomfort.
  • Soothing Rinses: Use a warm salt water rinse to soothe sore spots and promote healing. Mix a teaspoon of table salt in a glass of warm water and gently swish for a few seconds before spitting.
  • Soft Foods: Stick to a soft food diet for the first few weeks. This puts minimal stress on your gums and allows them to adjust comfortably to the dentures.
  • Schedule Follow-Up Appointments: Don’t hesitate to schedule follow-up appointments with your dentist during this initial period. They can address any concerns, make minor adjustments to your dentures for a better fit, and ensure a smooth transition for a confident smile.

Daily Denture Care

Just like your natural teeth, dentures require proper cleaning and maintenance to ensure optimal hygiene and longevity.

Cleaning

  • Brushing: Brushing your dentures twice a day, morning and night, is essential. Use a soft-bristled denture brush specifically designed for dentures and a non-abrasive denture cleanser. Gently brush all surfaces of your dentures, including the clasps (for partial dentures) and the areas that fit against your gums.
  • Rinsing: After brushing, thoroughly rinse your dentures under running water to remove any loosened food particles or cleanser residue.

Storing

When you’re not wearing your dentures, proper storage is crucial to prevent them from drying out and warping. Here are two options:

  • Denture Cleaning Solution: Soak your dentures overnight in a denture cleaning solution recommended by your dentist. This solution helps remove stubborn stains and plaque buildup and kills bacteria that can lead to bad breath. 
  • Water Storage: If you prefer not to use a cleaning solution, store your dentures in plain water. This helps prevent them from drying out and losing their shape. Make sure the water completely covers the dentures.

Eating with Dentures

Living with dentures doesn’t mean sacrificing your favourite foods! While your mouth adjusts, starting with a soft-food diet will ease you into comfortable and enjoyable eating. 

Soft Food Transition

  • Start Soft: In the initial stages, focus on soft foods that require minimal chewing. Think mashed potatoes, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, cooked vegetables, and well-cooked meats like fish and chicken. These will be gentle on your gums and allow you to practise using your dentures for eating.
  • Gradual Introduction: Once comfortable with soft foods, gradually introduce firmer textures. Start with chopped or shredded foods like cooked vegetables, fruits, and meats. As your confidence grows, you can incorporate tougher textures like crackers and nuts, but always cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Chewing Techniques and Denture Stability

  • Small Bites: Take smaller bites than you might be accustomed to. This reduces pressure on your dentures and makes chewing easier.
  • Chew Thoroughly: Chew your food slowly and thoroughly using both sides of your mouth. This helps distribute the chewing pressure evenly and prevents your dentures from shifting.
  • Avoid Unilateral Chewing: It’s tempting to chew on one side, especially if you have a sore spot on the other. However, this can cause your dentures to tilt or become loose. Practice chewing on both sides to maintain balanced pressure.

Foods to Minimise

While dentures are incredibly durable, certain foods can pose challenges:

  • Sticky Foods: Caramels, taffy, and other sticky candies can adhere to your dentures and be difficult to remove, potentially causing them to dislodge.
  • Hard Foods: Hard candies, nutshells, and raw vegetables can damage your dentures if not properly chewed. Opt for softened versions or cut them into small pieces before consuming.
  • Chewy Foods: While manageable in small amounts, chewy meats like jerky or tough bread can be difficult to break down with dentures. Consider cooking meats until tender or choosing softer bread options.

Overcoming Common Denture Challenges

Living with dentures comes with a learning curve, and some challenges may arise.

Slipping Dentures

  • Denture Adhesive: A denture adhesive recommended by your dentist can significantly improve stability and prevent your dentures from slipping or shifting during speaking or eating.
  • Refit or Reline: If the adhesive isn’t enough, your dentures may need a refit or reline. Over time, your gums naturally shrink and change shape, causing dentures to become loose. Your dentist can adjust or reline your dentures to restore a snug fit.

Irritation

  • Check for Fit: Persistent irritation in specific areas could indicate an ill-fitting denture. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to have the fit assessed and adjustments made if necessary.
  • Soft Denture Liners: Soft denture liners provide a cushioning layer between your gums and the denture base, reducing friction and irritation. Consider discussing this option with your dentist if you experience ongoing discomfort.
  • Proper Cleaning: Improper cleaning can cause plaque buildup and lead to gum inflammation. Maintain a consistent cleaning routine using recommended denture cleansers and brushes to keep your dentures and gums healthy.

Bad Breath

  • Clean Thoroughly: Dentures can trap food particles and bacteria, contributing to bad breath. Ensure thorough cleaning by brushing your dentures twice a day and soaking them overnight in a denture cleaning solution.
  • Tongue Cleaning: Don’t forget your tongue! Bacteria on the tongue can also contribute to bad breath. Brush your tongue gently with a toothbrush to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

When to See Your Dentist

While some minor adjustments can be expected initially, certain situations require professional attention:

  • Persistent Discomfort: If you experience ongoing pain or irritation that doesn’t subside within a few days, see your dentist.
  • Loose Dentures: Loose dentures that significantly impact your ability to speak or eat require refitting or relining by your dentist.
  • Broken Dentures: Don’t attempt to fix broken dentures yourself. Your dentist can assess the damage and determine the best course of action, whether it’s repair or replacement.

By understanding these solutions and knowing when to seek professional help, you can effectively address common denture challenges and maintain a healthy, comfortable smile.

Conclusion

Living with dentures is a journey, and navigating the initial adjustment period is completely normal. Remember, with dedication and these helpful tips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the numerous benefits dentures offer.Ready to smile with confidence again? Schedule a consultation for personalised denture advice and a brighter smile.