Learning to live with dentures

May 01, 2015

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Even if you make oral health a top priority, various factors can result in lost teeth. For many people, this means partial or full dentures become necessary, both for the practical purpose of eating and to provide the aesthetic of natural teeth. However, adapting to dentures can be a bit tricky, especially if you've been enjoying your homegrown pearly whites for decades. Learning to live with dentures can take a little time, but once you've gotten used to them, they make a big difference.

Wearing dentures
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), your dentist may want to see you often when you first start wearing dentures to make sure they fit.1 The NIH further notes that eventually your gums will change shape in response to the dentures and then the dentures may need to be adjusted. Dental Care Matters, a dental advice publication, adds that in the beginning dentures may cause minor irritation and feel awkward when speaking and eating.2 To get used to speaking, Dental Fear Central, a website discussing dental phobia, suggests trying to count from 65 to 70, as these sounds can be particularly difficult.3

For the first few days, dentures may cause increased salivation, feel loose in your mouth or be more prone to shifting when you make sudden motions with your mouth. Though it may take a week or two to get used to wearing dentures, in time they'll start to feel more natural and it'll become easier to eat hard foods and keep them in place.

What to eat
The health publication Prevention notes that some foods and drinks are less than ideal for denture wearers. Some examples include hard candy, coffee, popcorn, nut butters, and other crunchy, sticky or hard foods.4 When you first start wearing dentures, try eating soft foods that aren't sticky and cutting all foods into small bites. Use both sides of your mouth to chew so the dentures don't get dislodged on one side. Initially try to avoid foods that are tough or require a lot of extra chewing.

Dental Care Matters recommends starting out with foods such as drinks, soft breads, soups and eggs.2 Like anything else, learning to eat with dentures is just a matter of time and practice.

Fruits and vegetables aren't the ideal foods for new denture wearers. Wearing dentures may change the way you eat, but you'll adapt to chewing tough foods as time goes on. 

Denture maintenance
Though learning to care for your dentures may also take a little time, thoroughly cleaning them is imperative to your oral health. Keep in mind that dentures will be in your mouth every day, and if you don't exercise proper hygiene, dentures can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Similar to your natural teeth, dentures should be cleaned twice each day. Work with your dentist to find the right toothpaste and brush for cleaning your dentures.

Always make sure to take your dentures out before going to bed. Keep your dentures in water when they're not in your mouth and clean them in the morning before reinserting them. If your dentures crack or chip, take them to the dentist to assess if they can be repaired or need to be replaced.

1 "Taking care of your teeth and mouth," National Institutes of Health, Jan. 27, 2015. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth#dentures

2 "Getting used to dentures and possible problems with them," by Dr. Barry Hughes, Dental Care Matters. http://dentalcarematters.com/getting-used-to-dentures-and-problems/

3 "Dentures," Dental Fear Central. http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/dentures/

4 "The 8 best (and 8 worst!) foods for dentures," by Keely Savoie, Prevention, Feb. 4, 2013. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/best-and-worst-foods-dentures?slide=6

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