A denture is a removable prosthesis or appliance (complete or partial) made to replace natural teeth.
Dentures are naturally retained in the mouth due to a combination of factors. Learning to eat with artificial teeth requires considerable skill and practice. This is because every person's mouth has a different structure, which can affect the retention and stability of the denture. Also the level of suction which helps hold the denture in place, particularly the upper denture, will vary according to the amount of saliva produced. Many denture wearers find the lower denture particularly difficult to manage at first. Experience will help as will the use of a carefully selected denture fixative which can help to keep the denture in place and stable.
However well-fitting the dentist has made the dentures, they can never provide the biting and chewing efficiency of natural teeth. Using a denture fixative will help to give confidence and dispel many fears about wearing dentures. Even well-fitting dentures can benefit and become more stable and secure. The ingredients work together to hold the denture in place and provide a strong and lasting hold that can help to reduce the wobble, so eating apples, crusty bread and other foods can be enjoyed again.
A fixative also acts as a supporting layer between dentures and gums. It helps reduce the effects of any pressure spots, helps prevent the dentures rubbing and makes them more comfortable. A fixative will make you more confident when meeting people and eating out.
Dirty dentures are unattractive and may smell or taste unpleasant; in addition, deposits on the dentures can be harmful to the health of gums and any remaining teeth. Deposits on dentures are the same as those that occur on natural teeth and include: food particles, stains, calculus (tartar) and bacterial deposits (plaque). Certain foods and drinks such as tea, coffee and red wine can cause staining, as can tobacco. A denture which has plaque and tartar present will stain more quickly than a denture which is kept clean.
It is a good idea to develop a regular routine for cleaning dentures. Cleaning them at the same time as any remaining natural teeth will make sure that it is done regularly. Whatever the type of denture, it is best to rinse it after every meal and remove any debris with a soft brush, a denture cleaner and warm water. Dentures should be cleaned over a basin half-filled with warm water to minimise the risk of damage they are dropped.
Brushing is the most essential aspect of cleaning a denture. Soaking a denture in a cleansing solution alone is not enough. Use a brush (a large toothbrush is fine) to reach into all the crevices of the denture, especially the fitting surface (the part that contacts your gums) and, in the case of partial dentures, inside any metal parts such as clasps. Using a specialist denture cleansing paste is probably the most effective way of removing food debris and bacterial deposits (plaque) and preventing the build-up of stains or tartar.
Deposits of tartar (a bit like the 'fur' in a kettle) are less likely if your dentures are always kept clean. However, they can be a problem for some people. No commercially available denture cleanser is effective in removing such deposits and this needs to be done professionally by your dentist or in a dental laboratory, where your dentures can easily be descaled and repolished.
Rinse the denture thoroughly after every meal and remove debris by brushing with a soft brush, soap and warm water. In the evening, clean it thoroughly with a brush and denture cleaning paste. Do not soak the denture in a hypochlorite type of cleanser, an acid or household cleanser. Remove it overnight and leave it in cold water. This helps to keep your gums healthy.
Sometimes the dentist may 'reline' the denture with a temporary soft lining material and this requires special care:
If your denture has a permanent rubber lining:
Rinse the denture after every meal and remove debris by brushing with a soft brush, soap and cold water. Soak the denture in a hypochlorite type of cleanser for 20 minutes every evening. Rinse thoroughly and leave in cold water overnight.
If you have loose or ill-fitting dentures, your ability to eat and speak may become affected. Due to advances in dentistry, there is now a procedure whereby your denture can be fixed to your jaw with dental implants. This treatment, known as implant overdentures or denture stabilisation, offers patients with dentures a more permanent solution and can improve quality of life significantly. You will be able to enjoy your favourite foods again and feel comfortable smiling, safe in the knowledge that your dentures are staying put. Here is how it works: