older woman with dentures

Dentures for Newbies

Getting your first set of dentures can be a life-changing experience…for the better! If you’ve decided to replace your missing teeth with dentures, you’re well on your way to smiling naturally again and enjoying your favorite foods. What follows is a crash course on the process of getting dentures, so you know what to expect and what to discuss with the dentist.

Treatment Planning

Once you and your dentist have decided that dentures are the best choice for you (as opposed do other tooth-replacement options such as dental implants), the planning stage begins.

If you have one or more teeth remaining in either your upper or lower jaw (whichever will be receiving the denture), your dentist may plan to remove these. Once these teeth have been removed, your dentist will take an impression of your gums in order to make a model of your mouth to base the dentures on. A wax model of your dentures is then created, which allows the dentist to test the look and fit.

Color & Materials

During the planning process, you and the dentist will also discuss the color and materials for your dentures. Most dentures these days are made from acrylic, plastic and sometimes porcelain. The denture base (the part that looks like gums) is usually made from acrylic and can be made to match the color of your gums. Most denture teeth are made from plastic, though it is possible to get them made from porcelain, but this can be more expensive.

Fitting

Your dentist will have you try on the mock-up models of your dentures to assess the fit and look of them. After the dentist is satisfied with the fit of the model, the final dentures will be cast in the colors you and the dentist have decided upon. Once this denture is complete, you will go back to the dentist for the final fitting. At the time, the dentist can make final adjustments to the fit.

Getting Used to Dentures

Like any significant change in your mouth, dentures can feel strange at first. Some patients report an increase in saliva flow during the first few days or weeks of having dentures. Speaking or eating may also take getting used to. Start slow by eating softer foods cut into small pieces, then graduate to tougher foods as you feel your chewing skills improving.

The same goes for speaking. If you notice yourself having trouble speaking clearly, try speaking more slowly and practicing troublesome words until your mouth gets used to them.

It’s also normal to experience soreness in your mouth as you get used to your dentures. However, if this soreness persists, you should talk to the dentist as it may be a sign that the fit of your dentures needs to be adjusted a little more.

Don’t wear your dentures at night in order to give your gums a break. Keep your dentures moist in a glass of water or denture cleaner overnight.

Cleaning Your Dentures

Contrary to what you might think, you shouldn’t brush your dentures with toothpaste. Toothpaste can be too abrasive for the plastic of dentures and can scratch them. Hand soap, mild dish soap, or denture cleaner is the best choice for dentures. You should rinse your dentures after each meal and be sure to brush them with a soft bristled brush and soap at least once per day.