This page provides some useful information if you are considering dentures as a solution to your dental problems, and some tips for people who are already denture wearers.

Although we only offer our same-day dental implant solution at TDC (Total Dentalcare) Implant Centres, we provide this information as we advise anyone considering dental surgery to carefully research all the available options. As every patient has different needs and preferences, this will help you choose the right solution and dental team for you.

What are dentures/false teeth?

Dentures are artificial teeth that fill the gaps left by missing teeth. Most are made from plastic (acrylic), nylon or metal and are manufactured to look like natural teeth. Complete dentures replace all your upper or lower teeth, while partial dentures only replace a single or a few missing teeth.

Advances in technology mean that there are many types of dentures, so it is best to discuss which one is most suitable with your dentist.

Why might you need dentures?

Dentures are a familiar treatment option and may be one of the solutions you consider – or may have been suggested to you by your dentist – to help improve the problems caused by loose or missing teeth.  These issues can include:

  • on-going dental pain and discomfort
  • difficulty eating foods that others can easily eat – such as crunchy fruit and vegetables.  This can impact upon your ability to have a balanced diet, as well as reducing your enjoyment of food
  • being limited in your social life e.g. only being able to order soft foods or soups when you eat out, or even avoiding social situations altogether
  • low self-confidence if you don’t like the way your teeth look.

Widely available, dentures can improve your ability to eat foods that you currently avoid, and enhance your smile by replacing unsightly loose and missing teeth. For people happy with a removable solution, dentures can be the right choice.

How are they held in place?

Dentures are designed and shaped to fit over your gums and can be removed by the wearer. Full dentures (where there are no natural teeth remaining in the jaw) are normally held in place by suction to your gums. When the dentures fit well, this can be enough to keep them firmly in your mouth. Over time, all dentures will loosen and will require a new lining (reline), additional glue or a total remake.

Denture glue can be used to help hold the dental plate in place more securely as it can give better grip. Most readily available adhesives last between eight and ten hours before needing to be reapplied. Partial dentures can be clipped onto existing teeth and released using metal or tooth-coloured clasps.

Some dentures can be attached to dental implants but unlike fixed bridge dental implants, such as All on 4 and Smile in a Day, which remain permanently in place, are removable by the denture wearer and need to be cared for like any other dentures.

Getting used to wearing dentures

One of the biggest concerns people have when thinking about having dentures is how comfortable they will be. It is likely to feel strange when your new dentures are fitted and it’ll take time for you to get used to the feeling of something new in your mouth. In addition, your gums may become sore and irritated if your dentures rub.

Dentures should not be worn overnight and are best stored in a damp container or a glass of water. You may also find that your speech is affected and that eating certain foods is difficult, so start with softer foods and gradually experiment with ones that are harder to eat. Your tongue and cheek muscles usually get used to accommodating your dental plate over time, which will help to make both speech and eating easier.

Your ability to taste may also be diminished if the plate covers your palate, and you may produce more saliva than usual. Swallowing more frequently may help.

For all of these issues, dental professionals usually advise being patient and allowing yourself to get used to wearing dentures as problems are likely to diminish over time. But do consult your dentist if they persist or if you have concerns over the fit of your denture. If you have painful dentures it’s an issue that needs to be addressed urgently.

Why cleaning your dentures is so important

Saliva plays a vital role in keeping your mouth healthy. It has antibacterial properties and, by washing away food particles, helps to keep your teeth clean and infection free.

When you wear dentures, saliva may not be able to reach certain parts of your mouth and gums, and food can become caught under the plate and start to decompose, which can cause bad breath.

This is why it is important to maintain a really good dental hygiene routine. The NHS recommends that you clean your dentures as often as you would natural teeth (see below).

You should also brush your gums, tongue and any existing teeth twice a day to keep your mouth clean and avoid infections including oral thrush and gum disease. And of course, make sure you have regular dental check-ups.

Caring for dentures

Dentures need to be taken out and thoroughly cleaned with a toothbrush twice a day to ensure that any food particles are removed. Rinsing them with water after every meal can also help to keep them clean.

They should also be disinfected daily according to the instructions given by the denture-cleaning product manufacturer. This helps to protect against infection and soreness and also gives your gums a break.

Dentures should be handled with care – avoid cleaning them over a hard surface to guard against them breaking if they are dropped. Instead, fill the basin with some water which will protect them if they fall.

Your dentist can deep-clean your dentures to help remove stubborn stains.

How long do dentures last?

If they’re well looked after, dentures can last for five to ten years before they need to be relined with acrylic resin to help them fit better, or replaced.

However, the most important thing is how well they fit. Your gums naturally recede as you age and, while dentures are moulded to fit your gums exactly, when you wear dentures your jawbone will gradually shrink and deteriorate (a natural process known as resorption), which can easily be made worse by wearing dentures, especially dentures that do not fit well or grind against remaining teeth.

This means your dentures may no longer fit properly and may start to become progressively looser, leading to slipping, discomfort or lisping when speaking.

The dentures may then need to be replaced to address these problems.

Dentures:
Advantages

  • Dentures can replace single teeth or whole sets of upper and lower teeth
  • Modern-day denture options are more varied, and new materials can make them more comfortable than traditional dentures
  • They can help to improve the appearance of your smile
  • You’ll be able to eat certain foods more easily
  • Removable teeth are less expensive than fixed solutions
  • They’re available on the NHS
  • They can help to enhance your facial features which may have sagged due to tooth loss
  • Dentures can improve your speech by preventing the slurring that can occur as a result of missing teeth
  • Well-fitting dentures can be held in place with suction alone, but you can get added grip from adhesives if required or preferred
  • Partial dentures can be securely held in place with metal clasps

Dentures:
Disadvantages

  • Dentures are removable, so they’re less convenient than fixed solutions such as fixed bridge dental implants that stay in place like natural teeth
  • They can feel unnatural and uncomfortable in your mouth, in some cases leading to a gag reflex
  • They require a time-consuming daily cleaning routine that necessitates frequent denture removal
  • When they are removed, denture wearers are left with missing teeth
  • If they don’t fit properly, dentures can slip, causing irritation and social embarrassment
  • Ill-fitting dentures can impair your speech, causing you to slur or lisp
  • Wearing dentures results in accelerated bone loss in your jaw, which can alter the shape of your face and lead to sagging and wrinkles
  • Food particles can become trapped underneath your dentures and start to decay, leading to bad breath
  • Dentures are less durable than natural teeth and permanent solutions such as fixed bridge dental implants
  • Because your gum and jawbone change shape with age, your dentures will loosen, meaning they will need to be replaced every five to ten years

Over time, dentures can become stained by drinking tea, coffee and  red wine, and from smoking, something that is made worse by abrasions in the acrylic caused by cleaning with abrasive toothpaste. Your dentist can remove these stains, which is a short, simple process.

If your dentures move in your mouth, your dentist can use acrylic resin to help improve the fit. This can be done in the surgery (a soft reline) or the dentures can be sent away to a lab (a hard reline). While relining can help short-term, your dentures may eventually need to be replaced.

The NHS advises that if dentures are removed, they should be placed in water, a suitable overnight denture-cleaning solution, or a polythene bag with some dampened cotton wool in it to stop the denture materials from drying out and changing shape, which can lead to poor fit and discomfort.

It’s a good idea to rinse your dentures with water after each meal whenever possible as this will to help remove any food particles that may otherwise get trapped. This rinsing will help to keep your mouth clean and feeling fresh, and help avoid your having to worry about bad breath.

Some people find it hard to get used to the feeling of having dentures in their mouth, especially when they are new. If wearing your dentures makes you gag, you can try applying toothpaste to the surface of the denture that will be in contact with your gums. This can help prevent this gagging problem.

If you’re experiencing persistent discomfort or irritation, you should see your dentist
so they can assess what’s causing the problem. It may be the case that your dentures need adjustment or there may be tooth roots in your gums pushing against the dentures.

Choosing the right solution for your dental problems is a very personal decision, and you now have more options open to you than ever before. For people who prefer a permanent fixed solution, fixed bridge dental implants such as All on 4 or Smile in a Day offer a proven and safe alternative – even for those who’ve been told that their gum disease or bone loss is too severe for implants. Like dentures, you can have single, multiple or full arch (jaw) implants to replace missing or decaying teeth.

The main difference between dentures and fixed bridge dental implants is that the latter are fixed permanently, and very securely, in place by means of titanium tooth roots that attach to single, multiple or full sets of false teeth. As there is no movement, fixed bridge dental implants eliminate concerns about slipping teeth or a plate rubbing against your gums, and allow you to bite and chew all types of food with confidence. They are the closest thing to natural teeth in terms of bite function and the appearance of your smile, and can last a lifetime if well cared for.

An additional advantage of having fixed bridge dental implants is that they
prevent bone loss (resorption).