CONSIDERING DENTURES? (here’s what you need to know)
Dentures are removable appliances designed to replace missing teeth and help restore your smile.
If you’ve lost a significant number of your natural teeth — due to causes ranging from tooth decay to gum disease, or even injury — replacing those missing teeth will benefit both your appearance and your health.
GOOD TO KNOW
As people age, their mouths — and subsequently, their dentures — will change. The bony ridges that exist in our mouths, for instance, will shrink over time. This can cause dentures to become loose.
Additionally, the extraction (removal) of a tooth can cause the surrounding bone to shrink as much as 40% in the first year alone. This loss of bone mass can eventually become so dramatic that a patient’s jaws will no longer line up for a proper bite.
These types of constant changes, of course, influence how a denture fits and functions. Just the normal “wear & tear” of daily use — not to mention any larger shifts (e.g. the loss of remaining teeth or fractures that can occur within the appliance itself) — necessitate ongoing care.
For patients with dentures, regular dental visits (which check for signs of oral cancer, along with other health issues and concerns) are no less important than they’ve always been. Denture relines, specifically, are an essential step toward keeping your denture secure and functional.
In some cases, dental implants are needed to retain an effective bite.
TYPES OF DENTURES
1) Complete Dentures
These replace all of the teeth.
These rest on the gums that cover the jawbones.
2) Partial Dentures
These replace some (but not all) of the teeth.
These “partials” also rest on the gum tissue but are supported by teeth that are still present.
3) Implant-supported dentures
When all of the teeth are missing and dentures have little to no suction (as is the case with most lower dentures), implants are used to help secure the denture to the bone.
These are dentures that are placed immediately — i.e. within the same appointment — after the extraction of remaining teeth.
This solution is most commonly used for patients who will have one or more teeth extracted in preparation for the denture appliance, but do not want to go without teeth during the subsequent healing period (which can last up to six months).
How Are Immediate Dentures Made?
First, impressions are taken from existing teeth and gums. Then, using an educated guess as to any changes that will occur in the mouth following surgery, the denture is constructed.
After surgery, the bone and affected tissues will continue to heal for the following several months. As mentioned above, the bone will shrink throughout this healing period. That shrinkage will most likely cause the denture appliance to feel more and more loose as time goes by.
Patients should try to use adhesives during the six-month healing period, prior to having the first laboratory reline of the denture. (There is a cost for this procedure. See below.)
In cases where excessive shrinking has taken place, but the post-surgery healing is not yet complete (meaning that the patient is not quite ready for the laboratory “hard reline” procedure), “soft reline” material is used to help enhance the denture’s current fit.
“HARD RELINE” PROCEDURE
As noted previously, gum tissue will change and bone will shrink after the extraction of a tooth. This will, of course, cause the fit of a patient’s denture to become progressively looser.
A denture reline is a laboratory procedure that will help the denture better fit your mouth once it has fully healed after the surgery. Because the mouth can continue changing during that healing period, it is important to wait at least 6 months (on average) to have this procedure completed.
We physically send the denture to our lab, which leaves the patient without their appliance for several days. Lab relines are an additional charge of $596.
DENTURE ADJUSTMENTS AND “SORE SPOTS”
Denture adjustments are a normal part of having dentures.
Directly following surgery, the denture may fit tightly due to swelling. When this is the case, just like with a new pair of shoes, any movement can create sore spots.
Additionally, dentures are designed to rest on the mouth’s soft tissue which, by nature, has “give” and moves. This movement can cause irritation. Your doctor, however, will be happy to make adjustments, which will lessen the pressure in the area and relieve any sores that have developed.
We will happily take care of sore spots during the interim healing period (approximately six months). After that period has ended, and the hard reline has been completed, future care will result in additional charges.
CLEANING YOUR DENTURES
Proper and consistent care can keep your dentures, as well as your entire mouth, in good shape. To remove food and plaque, patients should brush their dentures every day with a soft bristled toothbrush using dish soap and water. (Do not use toothpaste to clean dentures.)
We strongly recommend taking your dentures out at night while you sleep. Doing this will not only minimize the bone loss you experience, but will also help keep the bacteria count to a minimum.
When you are not wearing them, they should always be kept in water (not hot) or in a water-based denture solution overnight.
The changes that occur within the mouth over time can be quite dramatic. This is why patients who wear dentures should have yearly exams.
- A relining of the dentures is suggested every 3-5 years.
- New dentures should be made every 5-10 years.
Patients wear out their dentures at different rates. For some individuals, it happens quicker (often due to grinding or the presence of natural teeth that bite against the dentures). For some, this fatigue takes longer to occur.
Again, dentures should NOT be worn at night.
Wearing them at night can greatly increase the shrinkage and change that occurs within the bone. This is because they put pressure on the gums and, consequently, the bony ridges beneath them. That pressure leads to resorption, a process that results in a gradual decrease in bone volume and density.
Resorption and bone loss are accelerated if dentures are worn 24 hours per day.
GOOD ORAL HYGIENE TIPS
An effective oral hygiene routine for denture-wearers should include the following steps:
1) Remove and rinse your dentures after eating.
2) Brush your dentures at least once a day with a soft toothbrush or denture brush.
Use dish soap, liquid antibacterial soap, or a denture cleanser.
Do NOT use toothpaste; it is too abrasive.
Using an effervescent (fizzing) tablet can not substitute for this type of manual cleaning, as some effort is often required to remove the plaque or film that develops on the dentures.
3) Store your dentures in water or, better yet, an alkaline peroxide-based solution made specifically for this purpose.
4) Brush your gums and tongue every day with an extra-soft toothbrush (not the one you use for cleaning your dentures) or clean them with a damp washcloth.
5) Rinse your dentures before putting them back in your mouth.
Though patients who wear dentures have fewer (or no) natural teeth, they still need to pay attention to their oral hygiene. Neglecting proper care of your dentures — or simply wearing the appliance 24/7 — will prevent you from maintaining good oral hygiene, and will unnecessarily put your total health at risk.
QUESTIONS? LET US KNOW!
Want to find out what options might be the best fit for you?
Just give us a call. We’re always here to help! 513-272-9009
Looking forward to working with you to achieve your dental goals and enhance your overall health.
Dr. Scott Sayre, D.D.S.
& the Advance Dentistry team