I need dentures. Where do I start?
The best starting point to see if dentures are an option for you is to see a prosthodontist. A prosthodontist is a specialist with an additional three years of training after dental school who focuses on the restoration and replacement of teeth, including dentures for even the most complex cases. A prosthodontist also will be able to help determine if another treatment option might be more suited to your particular situation.
What types of dentures are there?
Dentures may replace all or only some of the teeth. The dentures that replace all the teeth are known as complete dentures and they rest on the gums that cover the jawbones. The stability and retention of these dentures can be improved by attaching them to dental implants. Dentures that replace some but not all of the teeth are known as partial dentures. They attach to the teeth that are still present and also cover and rest on the gums and bone where the teeth are missing. Dental implants can also be used to restore and stabilize partial dentures as well.
What is the average cost of dentures?
Denture fees vary widely based on many factors including the complexity of your particular treatment, the time required to accomplish the treatment, and the location of the dental practice. Denture fees can vary depending on your needs and the prevailing fees in your community. Payment terms also vary according to the business requirements of the specific practice. The best way to determine fees for the services you require is to visit with your prosthodontist and discuss the care you may need.
You may also contact your state or local dental society to find out if the organization has any resources for the public related to the cost of dental services. You may want to seek the care of a prosthodontist, a dentist with three years of training beyond dental school who specializes in the care and maintenance of dentures. You can use the ACP's search to find a prosthodontist near you.
How do I care for my dentures?
Whitening: It is not possible to whiten dentures like natural teeth because dentures are made of plastic. To minimize staining, properly clean your dentures daily to remove food and plaque bacteria. Brushing with a denture brush or soft toothbrush will prevent dentures from becoming permanently stained and keep your mouth healthy. Moisten the brush and apply a non-abrasive soap or denture paste (regular toothpaste is too abrasive). Brush every surface, inside and out, scrubbing gently. A variety of over-the-counter denture cleanser products may be safely used (by following the manufacturer’s instructions) to remove most stains. Do not use bleach on your dentures unless your dentist or prosthodontist gives you special instructions on using bleach. Dilute household bleach can be used to clean and disinfect your dentures, but don’t use bleach until you see your prosthodontist for instructions. More stubborn stains may require removal by your prosthodontist.
Brushing: Do not brush your dentures with normal toothpaste. Toothpastes are designed to be used on teeth, and they often contain materials and chemicals that help whiten and strengthen teeth, but may harm dentures, which are made of a very durable plastic. Even though the plastic is strong, it is not as strong as the enamel of teeth and may be scratched by using toothpaste to clean your dentures. You should use a dish washing liquid and a special denture brush to clean your dentures by hand every day. After rinsing them thoroughly, soak your dentures in water-based cleaning solution overnight.
Repairing broken dentures: The best solution is to return to the prosthodontist who made your dentures and have the cracked denture repaired professionally. It may seem easy to fix, but it is important that the repair is done correctly to prevent problems with chewing and to avoid any sore spots. The prosthodontist also needs to check the denture and adjust it after it is repaired. The denture may be too old and may no longer fit closely to your gums, and you may need a new denture.
Can I sleep in my dentures?
Yes, you can wear your dentures at night but it is preferred that they be removed. You should remove your dentures at night and this will give your gums and bone a chance to relax from the pressure of the denture during the day. If you need to wear your dentures for social reasons or to prevent your jaws from over closing, you should find time during the day to properly clean your mouth and your prostheses. You should never wear your dentures 24 hours a day without preforming proper oral hygiene. Dentures should be cleaned at night and stored in water during the night.
Can I eat normally with dentures?
Most patients need to learn how to use dentures properly and as a result, it takes a little time to get used to them. After a while, you should be able to eat fairly normally, but it may take more time to get comfortable with harder foods or sticky foods. Using a small amount of denture adhesive (no more than three or four pea-sized dabs on each denture) may help stabilize the dentures and help hold them in place while you learn how to get comfortable with them and may make the learning process easier.
Chewing gum: Dentures and chewing gum do not usually work well together, no matter which brand of chewing gum you decide to try. The gum typically sticks to the acrylic plastic in the denture and may break a seal on the dentures, which will loosen them as a result. Gum may remain stuck to the denture and eventually harden and discolor. Ultimately, if you wear dentures, you should avoid chewing gum.
How much pain is involved with getting dentures?
When you’re first fitted for new dentures, it’s normal to experience minor irritation, which should fade as your mouth becomes accustomed to them. The period of pain varies. If you’ve previously worn dentures and now have a new set it may take longer. Similarly, if you had some natural teeth present that were removed at the time of the new dentures, the areas where the extractions were performed may be painful or uncomfortable for up to several weeks after the removal of the teeth. Regular visits to your prosthodontist to adjust the dentures as you go through the normal healing process are recommended.
How do you know when it’s time to reline dentures?
If the dentures no longer fit as well as they once did, you may need to have a procedure done to refit the base of the denture, called a “reline". Check with your prosthodontist to see if your dentures can be relined. It is best not to reline your dentures with over-the-counter reline kits. This procedure, which can be done by your prosthodontist, will enable your dentures to have a tighter, better fit.
After a reline, what should I do about excess saliva?
You may consider having the upper denture checked to see if it positioned properly. Sometimes dentures can be made in a position that does not allow the lips to close resulting in excess saliva. If swallowing is not impaired, you should be able to clear your mouth and the amount of saliva will generally decrease. If this does not happen, you should see your prosthodontist to correct the problem.
What are permanent dentures?
The term “permanent dentures” is deceptive and misleading. As we know, most things in life are not permanent, teeth and dentures alike. “Permanent dentures” are retained by screws or dental cement onto dental implants and cannot be removed by a patient; they can only be removed by your prosthodontist. Eventually even these “permanent dentures” may wear or break or become stained and discolored and will require replacement. Typically, soreness should be resolved within two weeks; if it persists, likely something in the denture needs to be adjusted. You should see your prosthodontist as soon as possible.
Is it possible to have dentures put in the same day as teeth removal?
Yes, it is possible to have your teeth removed and dentures put in the same day. These dentures are called immediate dentures and you should talk to your prosthodontist to see if that treatment is the best for you.
I have implants under my bottom denture, but my denture is still loose. Why?
If the implants had been placed a long time ago and you have not returned for folllow-up/maintenance visits, such problems can occur. Unfortunately, in time the bone shrinks beneath dentures causing the dentures to slip and slide resulting in painful ulcers. Additionally, the attachment parts get worn down with use or damaged and require replacement. Regular visits to your prosthodontist is recommended.
As a new denture wearer, the bottom denture seems loose. What should I do?
In most cases, the lower denture is much less stable than the upper denture. This is due to the shape of the gums on the lower ridge and movement of the denture caused by the tongue. Ask your prosthodontist about supporting your lower denture with dental implants. Implants can be used to stabilize and retain the lower denture allowing you to chew more efficiently and feel the confidence of knowing that your denture will stay in place.
Is it possible to perfectly color match my partial denture to my remaining natural teeth?
Prosthodontists and their teams are highly trained in the art of color and shade matching. Assuming it is a new partial denture, they can work to produce a match to your remaining natural teeth. If it is an existing partial denture, we would recommend having a new one made, as the expense would be about the same to recolor the old one.
What do I do if the screws in the denture are loosening?
If you had implants inserted, it sounds like the implants were intended to help stabilize the denture, in which case, they should reduce the movement. If your dentures rub your cheeks or if you’re biting your cheeks, you should return to the dentist or prosthodontist who made the dentures to continue to have the fit and bite refined. You should visit your dentist or prosthodontist to remedy these difficulties.
What do I do if my dentures feel very heavy and it is difficult to close my mouth?
While it may take time to simply adjust to the new dentures, it is likely that if teeth were removed the same day that the dentures were given to you, then you will need follow up with your prosthodontist to assure that they continue to fit properly as you heal. If you did not have any teeth extracted and simply had new dentures made, there should be fewer adjustments. These adjustments should be more minor in nature. The heavy feeling may be because you have not previously worn dentures or partial dentures. If that is the case, it will take several weeks to completely adapt to the feel of them.
After a very long time of denture wearing, I'm losing gum and bone. Can this be fixed?
Research shows that once the teeth are removed, the jaw bone shrinks and changes shape. Typically, dentures should be checked every year, and often they should be remade when they lose their fit and are loose in your mouth after 5-10 years of use. By using dental adhesive, you may have masked the loose fit of your dentures. Even though you have adapted to these dentures, you are not receiving the function and appearance you deserve. Also, it is important that you take your dentures out at night to allow your gum tissues to rest and decrease the possibility of sore spots.
My dentures will not stay in no matter what kind of adhesive I use. What should I do?
Relines of dentures should improve the fit of the base of the denture to the jaw. However, if your jaw has been without natural teeth for some time, it may be difficult to make the denture stable if there is little jawbone. Soft tissues beneath dentures can also become easily irritated by wearing dentures continually (24 hours a day). You should refrain from wearing dentures at night as this gives the skin a chance to recover from wearing them during the day. Your dentist or prosthodontist should make sure that the skin inside the mouth is healthy and take steps to treat it properly before relining. If there is enough jawbone available, relines can often be done well. If not, it may be necessary to revisit the need for either remaking or redesigning the denture.
Is there a way to replace teeth with dentures after losing them from oral cancer?
See a prosthodontist for consultation. Some patients have to wait a period of time before dentures can be fitted to avoid these concerns. Details of the cancer treatment are important and may guide the timeline and treatment approach.
Is it possible to get dentures after not having teeth for a long time?
It’s hard to predict how much of the upper and lower jaw will remain after 20 years without teeth. When teeth are removed, often the bone that held them in slowly shrinks over time. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s normal after tooth removal. It’s important that dentures are made properly to fit well and keep minimum stress on the bone. It’s not likely that you’ll have all the bone you started with after 20 years of not wearing a denture. Your dentist or prosthodontist should annually examine your mouth to assure ideal oral health, including the bone level that would be below your dentures.
The back of my dentures pop up when eating. What do I do?
Your dentures may be ill-fitting or the position of the implants may not be the most favorable. Usually this can be resolved by improving the fit of the denture or by adding (more) implants. Your prosthodontist can help you with this situation.
After applying adhesive, it's very difficult to remove dentures. How do I remove them without pain?
If you are using your denture adhesive correctly, there should not be a lot of adhesive left on your gums and palate when you remove your denture. Patients use a variety of methods to remove the adhesive: a piece of gauze, a tissue, a damp washcloth, or a wet toothbrush. Use no more than three or four pea-sized dabs of adhesive on each denture.