Denture Care: Adapting to Your New Smile
It is extremely important to practice healthy dental hygiene when wearing dentures. There is an increased risk of developing a more serious medical condition should oral irritation result from improper dental hygiene. These conditions include, but are not limited to, periodontal disease, leukoplakia (thickened white, potentially precancerous patches on the mucous membranes, also called smoker's tongue) and fungal (denture stomatitis) infections.
The gums, tongue and palate should be brushed with a soft bristle brush every evening when the dentures are removed, and each day before you insert the dentures to stimulate the gums and remove plaque accumulation. When removing dentures at night, brush the dentures carefully to remove any loose debris and plaque then soak them in a cleansing solution. Your dentist will be able to recommend one. Some people keep their dentures in an ultrasonic cleaner, but keep in mind that an ultrasonic cleaner doesn't replace brushing. When cleaning your dentures, place a towel beneath the denture or clean them over a sink filled with water to avoid breakage.
Adapting to Dentures
You should see your dentist 24 hours after delivery of your new dentures. It is not unusual to experience some initial discomfort. Minor adjustments to the denture can increase comfort and eliminate problems before they become more serious. Initially, a new denture may feel unusual in the mouth. The cheeks, lips, and tongue are very sensitive areas that require time to adjust to new dentures. It is not uncommon to bite one's cheek or tongue while acclimating to new dentures. However, persistent soreness or irritation should be reported to your dentist.
In addition to adjusting to the feel of new dentures, it will also take some practice learning to chew with them. Begin by slowly chewing on very small pieces of soft food, using both sides of the mouth simultaneously. As your comfort and confidence increase you can progress to larger pieces of soft food and then proceed to harder foods.
Speaking may also require practice. It may be difficult to pronounce certain words. Usually, this problem is overcome within two weeks. New denture wearers can adjust more quickly to their new prosthesis by practicing reading aloud.
With a well fitting denture and practice, denture adhesives may not be necessary. Denture wearers should expect the lower denture to fit somewhat loosely. They may need to learn how to use the muscles of the cheeks and tongue to keep the denture in place. Although this might sound bothersome, with practice, it becomes second nature.
Denture Readjustment or Replacement
If your dentures fit poorly, cause persistent mouth irritation, chip, crack, or break, it is important to see your dentist. Although most gum remodeling occurs within the first year, changes in gums and bone continue throughout one's lifetime. Over time this may result in ill fitting or loose dentures and may compromise facial appearance.
In addition, movement of the dentures on the gums may cause significant irritation. For this reason, it is recommended that complete dentures be remade or at least relined every five to seven years.