DENTAL BRIDGES & DENTURES
Full (or complete) dentures are needed when you have no teeth left in your upper or lower jaw. They are usually made of a plastic plate with plastic teeth.
Full upper dentures cover the roof of your mouth (palate). A very thin layer of saliva between your palate and the denture creates suction, which keeps it firmly in position. Your facial muscles and tongue also help to keep it in place.
Full lower dentures are often more difficult to keep in place because the floor of your mouth moves a lot, and the ridge where your teeth used to be shrinks with age.
However, good dentures should fit your mouth exactly so you shouldn’t need to use denture adhesive cream (fixative).
GETTING USED TO DENTURES
It’s very important to have realistic expectations of dentures. Getting used to them will take time. They should help you to eat, speak and smile confidently, but even the best dentures won’t feel the same as natural teeth.
Your mouth may feel a bit sore and uncomfortable to start with. Your dentures should start to feel a bit more secure as you get used to them. Your dentist will schedule a check-up appointment a week or two after fitting your new dentures. If you’re having any problems, he or she can make the necessary adjustments to your dentures.
You may find some words difficult to pronounce at first, but this usually improves with time.
It takes a while to get used to eating with new dentures, so it’s best to start with soft food. Try to use both sides of your mouth at the same time. This will help to keep your dentures in place.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR DENTURES & MOUTH
Brush any remaining natural teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If you have a full set of dentures, it’s still important to clean your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth with a soft brush.
Clean your dentures after every meal using a soft toothbrush and soap. It’s a good idea to brush them over a bowl of water to prevent damaging your dentures if you drop them. Ensure that you clean all the surfaces of your dentures, including the areas that sit against your gums.
You should take your dentures out at night and leave them in a glass of water or denture cleaning solution. If you have metal clasps or a soft lining on your denture, you must ask your dentist for advice before using any denture cleaning solutions because these are more delicate.
Don’t soak your dentures in any type of bleach or very hot water, as this can weaken them and change their appearance.
If your dentures are worn or don’t fit properly they can cause irritation and discomfort. Ideally you should have your dentures remade before these problems arise. Even if you have no natural teeth left, you should still have regular check-ups with your dentist so that he or she can assess the fit of your dentures, and can detect any infections or other conditions at an early stage.
DENTAL BRIDGES OR PARTIAL DENTURES
If only one or two teeth are missing, your dentist may recommend a bridge. He or she will attach a false tooth (or teeth) to your natural teeth on either side or occasionally on only one side of the gap.
Bridges are made of porcelain and/or metal. There are many bridge designs. The natural teeth on either side of the space are specially prepared for the crowns to fit on top. These crowns are permanently attached to a false tooth in the centre.
Bridges are cemented in place, so you can’t remove them for cleaning. To keep your natural teeth healthy, you should clean the gap under a bridge with a special dental floss. Ask your dentist or hygienist to show you how to floss under your bridge. On average, bridges last between five and 10 years.