One of the most common reasons why people suffer from dental phobia is because they are embarrassed about the state of their teeth. Many people fear visiting the dentist because they cannot face the thought of hearing the diagnosis: especially if that diagnosis is very likely to be lengthy, involve lots of painful treatment and, ultimately, be expensive.

The problem for many of these people is that unhealthy teeth are harder to look after. They are likely to deteriorate even further and they may make eating and chewing more difficult. The longer they avoid the dentist, the harder it becomes to salvage their existing teeth.

What are dentures?

Dentures are a set of false teeth that enable individuals to eat naturally and smile with confidence. You can have either a complete set of dentures or a partial set – depending on how many teeth you are missing and how many need to be replaced.

What are dentures made of?

The base of a denture is called a plate and can be made of either acrylic (plastic) or metal. The teeth are normally made of acrylic and can be made to match your natural teeth. This is especially important in the case of partial dentures.

Will dentures make me look different?

Dentures can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that little change in appearance will be noticeable. Modern dentures may even improve the look of your smile and help fill out the appearance of your face.

Will I be able to eat with dentures?

Eating will take a little practice. Start with soft foods cut into small pieces. Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth at the same time to prevent the denture from moving. As you become more used to your denture, add other foods until you return to your normal healthy diet.

Will dentures change how I speak?

Pronouncing certain words may require practice. Reading out loud and repeating difficult words will help. Over time you will adjust and get used to it, so don’t worry!If you find that your dentures occasionally slip when you laugh, cough or smile, reposition the denture by gently biting down and swallowing. If this continues consult your dentist.

Will my sense of taste be affected?

This is quite a common worry, but the fact is that your teeth have nothing to do with your sense of taste. Your taste buds are mainly on your tongue and they will still be there so eventually everything will not taste too different. However, at first food may not taste the same, as your dentures will interfere with your taste buds while your mouth adjusts to the feel of the denture. Your ability to sense hot food and drink may also be affected, so for a while it is a good idea to avoid very hot food and drinks, as you may burn yourself.

How long should I wear my dentures?

During the first few days, you may be advised to wear them for most of the time, including while you are asleep. This will allow you to adjust to your new dentures and let them settle in. After an initial period of adjustment your dentist may advise that you remove them before going to bed. This allows your gums to rest and helps promote oral health. If you decide to keep them in overnight, it is important that you clean them thoroughly before you go to bed, just as you would natural teeth.

Must I do anything special to care for my mouth?

Even with full dentures, you still need to take good care of your mouth. Every morning and evening, brush your gums, tongue and palate (roof of your mouth) with a soft -bristled brush. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. It is vitally important that partial denture wearers brush their teeth thoroughly every day to prevent tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to further teeth being lost.

What is the difference between conventional and Immediate Dentures?

Conventional dentures are made and inserted after teeth have been removed and the tissues have healed. Healing may take several months.Immediate Dentures are inserted immediately after teeth have been removed. To do this, the dentist takes measurements and impressions of your mouth during a preliminary visit An advantage of Immediate Dentures is that the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bone and gums can shrink over time, especially during the first six months after teeth have been removed. When gums shrink, Immediate Dentures may require relining or even replacing to fit properly.

What will dentures feel like?

New dentures may feel awkward or even uncomfortable for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. Should this continue, consult your dentist.It is not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness during this period. You may also find that saliva flow temporarily increases. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should diminish. If any problems persist, particularly irritation or soreness, be sure to consult your dentist as soon as possible and not wait for your regular check up. Do not take your dentures out though, leave them in, that way the dentist will be able to see where it is sore and sort the problem out quicker.

How do I take care of my dentures?

Dentures are very delicate and may break if dropped. When cleaning dentures it is recommended that you do so over a folded towel or sink of water. When you are not wearing your dentures, they should be stored in a container containing enough water to cover them.Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food debris and plaque. Brushing helps prevent dentures becoming stained and helps your mouth stay healthy. There are special denture cleaning brushes available but a soft bristled toothbrush can also be used. Avoid using hard-bristled brushes, which can cause damage The use of an effervescent denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your denture feeling fresher.

Can dentures be re-polished?

Yes they can. After considerable use, dentures can become slightly dull and rough. However, if you take them back to your dentist, they can be re-polished and restored to their original appearance.

Will my dentures need to be replaced?

Over a period of time, dentures will need to be relined or re-made due to normal wear or a change in the shape of your mouth. Bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink causing jaws to align differently. Loose dentures can cause health problems, including sores and infections not to mention discomfort. A loose or ill-fitting denture can also make eating and speaking more difficult. It is important to replace worn or poorly fitting dentures before they cause problems.

Will I notice a big difference?

It depends on how bad your teeth were in the first place, before your dentures were fitted. You will certainly notice a difference in eating and you might find it quite difficult at first. You may also find it difficult to pronounce some words. Don’t worry, you haven’t suddenly acquired an inability to speak – you will just have to give your mouth time to get used to the new shape of the dentures.

Some people also notice that dentures make a difference to their facial appearance. It isn’t usually something we notice until we start to lose our teeth, but they play a significant role in facial balance, enhancing our cheeks and giving extra definition to your face. Of course, if you’ve lost your damaged and rotten teeth and replaced them with dentures, you’ll have a better smile too.

What does the procedure involve?

A badly fitted denture can make life really difficult. Therefore, it is worth investing the time to ensure you dentist can do the best job possible. It may require a number of visits (sometimes up to five), so that your dentist can accurately determine the natural shape of your bite, jawbone and teeth. Your dentist will often try a temporary denture to check for fit, before fitting the finished article a few months later.

How do I care for my dentures?

It is tempting to imagine that having dentures fitted means you don’t have to worry about looking after your teeth anymore. Wrong. Your dentures will require just as much care as your natural teeth – if not more. Even with your natural teeth removed, plaque will still attach itself to your gums and tongue, so you must brush those twice each day. You will also have to clean your dentures carefully to remove food, while many people also use a special denture cleaning fluid to keep stains at bay.

How long do dentures last?

This depends on many factors, including how you take care of them and also how much you use them in terms of general wear and tear. Over time, dentures can become loose as your gums shrink and your bite changes. When this happens, you may need a new set of dentures, or in some cases, a simple modification of your existing dentures may solve the problem.

What questions should I ask my dentist?

If you are exploring the option of dentures, talk to your dentist about what sort of aftercare they recommend. Many people find that dentures can be uncomfortable and abrasive, both when you are initially getting used to them and when your mouth has begun to change shape. Many dentists therefore, will recommend a programme of aftercare appointments so that they can check your mouth and ensure your dentures continue to fit well.

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