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Caring for Your Dentures

Proper denture care is important for both the health of your dentures and mouth. Here are some tips.

Can I Make Adjustments or Repairs to My Dentures?

One or more follow-up appointments are generally needed soon after you receive your denture so that your oral health care provider can make any necessary adjustments. Never attempt to adjust or repair your dentures yourself. Never bend any part of the clasp or metal attachments yourself; doing so can weaken the metal structure. "Do-it-yourself" repair kits can permanently damage your dentures and over-the-counter glues may contain harmful chemicals.

Dentures that don't fit properly can cause irritation and sores in your mouth and on your gums. Be sure to contact your oral health care provider if your denture breaks, cracks, chips or if one of the teeth becomes loose. Oftentimes, he or she can make the necessary adjustment or repair on the same day. For some complicated repairs, your denture may have to be sent to a special dental laboratory.

Will My Dentures Need to Be Replaced?

Over time, dentures will need to be relined, rebased or remade due to normal wear, natural age-related changes to your face, jaw bones and gums, or if the dentures become loose. To reline or rebase a denture, the dentist or prosthodontist refits the denture base or makes a new denture base and reuses the existing teeth. Generally, complete dentures should be used for 5 to 7 years before a replacement is necessary.

How Should I Care for My Mouth and Gums?

Even with full dentures, it is important to brush your gums, tongue and palate with a soft-bristled brush every morning before you put in your dentures. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture's metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay. If you wear a partial denture, be sure to remove it before you brush your natural teeth. Clean, rest, and massage the gums regularly. Rinsing your mouth daily with lukewarm salt water will help clean your gums. Eat a balanced diet so that proper nutrition and a healthy mouth can be maintained.

How Often Should I See the Dentist?

Your dentist or prosthodontist will advise you about how often you need to visit, but every 6 months should be the norm. Regular dental visits are important so that your denture and mouth can be examined for proper denture fit, to look for signs of oral diseases including cancer, and to have your teeth professionally cleaned.

Partial Denture Care

How do you wear a removable partial denture?

Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. Removable partial dentures attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments. Precision attachments are generally more esthetic than metal clasps and they are nearly invisible. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments. Dentures with precision attachments generally cost more than those with metal clasps. Consult with your dentist to find out which type is right for you.

How long will it take to get used to wearing a denture?

For the first few weeks, your new partial denture may feel awkward or bulky. However, your mouth will eventually become accustomed to wearing it. Inserting and removing the denture will require some practice. Follow all instructions given by your dentist. Your denture should fit into place with relative ease. Never force the partial denture into position by biting down. This could bend or break the clasps.

How long should I wear the denture?

Your dentist will give you specific instruction about how long the denture should be worn and when it should be removed. Initially, you may be asked to wear your partial denture all the time. Although this may be temporarily uncomfortable, it is the quickest way to identify those denture parts that may need adjustment. If the denture puts too much pressure on a particular area, that spot will become sore. Your dentist will adjust the denture to fit more comfortably. After making adjustments, your dentist will probably recommend that you take the denture out of your mouth before going to bed and replace it in the morning.

Will it be difficult to eat with a partial denture?

Replacing missing teeth should make eating a more pleasant experience. Start out by eating soft foods that are cut into small pieces. Chew on both sides of the mouth to keep even pressure on the denture. Avoid foods that are extremely sticky or hard. You may want to avoid chewing gum while you adjust to the denture.

Will the denture change how I speak?

It can be difficult to speak clearly when you are missing teeth. Consequently, wearing a partial denture may help. If you find it difficult to pronounce certain words with your new denture, practice reading out loud. Repeat the words that give you trouble. With time, you will become accustomed to speaking properly with your denture.

How do I take care of my denture?

Handling a denture requires care. It's a good idea to stand over a folded towel or a sink of water just in case you accidentally drop the denture. Brush the denture each day to remove food deposits and plaque. Brushing your denture helps prevent the appliance from becoming permanently stained. It's best to use a brush that is designed for cleaning dentures. A denture brush has bristles that are arranged to fit the shape of the denture. A regular, soft-bristled toothbrush is also acceptable. Avoid using a brush with hard bristles, which can damage the denture.

Your dentist can recommend a denture cleaner. Look for denture cleansers with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. Products with the ADA Seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Some people use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid to clean their dentures, which are both acceptable. Other types of household cleaners and many toothpastes are too abrasive and should not be used for cleaning dentures.

Clean your dentures by thoroughly rinsing off loose food particles. Moisten the brush and apply the denture cleaner. Brush all denture surfaces gently to avoid damaging the plastic or bending the attachments.

A denture could lose its proper shape if it is not kept moist. At night, the denture should be placed in soaking solution or water. However, if the appliance has metal attachments, they could be tarnished if placed in soaking solution. Your dentist can recommend the proper method for keeping your dentures in good shape.

Will my denture need adjusting?

Over time, adjusting the denture may be necessary. As you age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, resulting in a loose-fitting denture. Dentures that do not fit properly should be adjusted by your dentist. Loose dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. See your dentist promptly if your denture becomes loose

Can I make minor adjustments or repairs to my denture?

You can do serious harm to your denture and to your health by trying to adjust or repair your denture. A denture that is not made to fit precisely by a dentist can cause irritation and sores. Using a do-it-yourself kit can damage the appliance beyond repair. Glues sold over-the-counter often contain harmful chemicals and should not be used on a denture.

If your denture no longer fits properly, if it breaks, cracks or chips, or if one of the teeth becomes loose, see your dentist immediately. In many cases, dentists can make necessary adjustments or repairs, often on the same day. Complicated repairs may require that the denture be sent to a special dental laboratory.

Must I do anything special to take care of my mouth?

Brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth daily help prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease that can lead to tooth loss. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture's metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist can demonstrate how to properly brush and clean between teeth. Selecting a balanced diet for proper nutrition is also important.

How often should I see my dentist?

Your dentist will advise you on the frequency of dental visits. Regular dental check-ups and having your teeth professionally cleaned are vital for maintaining a healthy smile.

How can I fill the gap?

A bridge—a device used to replace missing teeth—attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges can be applied either permanently (fixed bridges), or they can be removable.

Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth—to provide support for artificial teeth—or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth by either metal clasps or by precision attachments.

Produced with the cooperation of The American College of Prosthodontists