Artificial Teeth Provide an Option to Smile About
Not long ago, most people assumed they would need dentures someday—that it was not so much a question of “if,” but rather “when.” But because of modern dental techniques, dentures are no longer inevitable. Instead, they’re an option for people who have lost some or all of their teeth.1
While dentures are just one of several options, which include dental implants and permanent bridgework, they’re an important option. More than half of all Americans are missing at least one tooth, and about one-third of all Americans age 65 or older suffer from total teeth loss. 2 The standard treatment for tooth loss involves prosthetic devices such as full or partial dentures.
Full dentures are complete sets of artificial teeth that replace the teeth in either the upper or lower jaws. Partial dentures, which attach to existing teeth, fill gaps left by missing teeth. Both take some getting used to. But dentures can enhance your life by making you feel better about how you look and by helping to protect the muscles and bones in your face.3
Practice Makes Perfect
For most people, getting used to dentures should not take more than a few weeks. 3 One of the most important factors in adapting is having dentures that fit well.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it is not unusual to experience some minor irritation or soreness when you first wear dentures. Saliva flow may temporarily increase, but as the mouth becomes more accustomed to the dentures, these problems should diminish. One or more follow-up appointments with the dentist are generally needed after you receive dentures. If any problem persists, particularly irritation or soreness, be sure to consult your dentist.3
Dentures can change the way food tastes. It may also be difficult to get used to chewing while keeping the dentures in place. Taking smaller bites can help. Also, denture wearer needs to get used to the position of the tongue, because the space inside the mouth has changed. 3
The tongue’s space can also affect the way you pronounce words. One way to get used to the changes is to read aloud and practice the words that are difficult.3
Proper Care Needed
Dentures require daily cleaning. Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food particles and plaque.3 Ask your dentist or dental hygienist how to care for dentures.
Regular dental checkups can help ensure your dentures still fit well and don’t need repairs. Also, the dentist needs to check your mouth for signs of oral disease, including cancer.3
It’s Never Too Late to Keep Your Teeth
For most people, keeping their own teeth is preferable to wearing dentures. To keep your teeth healthy, consider these tips:
Protect against tooth decay by using fluoride toothpaste or fluoride mouth rinse every day. 4
Prevent gum disease, a common cause of tooth loss, by brushing twice a day and flossing each day.
Regularly check your mouth for signs of disease, such as red, swollen, or bleeding gums.
See your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleaning, or immediately if you notice signs of disease. 1
1 “Effects on wellbeing and Quality of Life, Chapter 6.” Oral Health in America, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, September 2000. http://http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/SurgeonGeneral/sgr/chap6.htm Accessed 2010.
2 “The Burden of Oral Diseases.” The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. August 6, 2008. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/SurgeonGeneral/sgr/boxes/burden.htm Accessed 2010.
3 “Dentures: FAQ.” American Dental Association. March 14, 2005. http://www.ada.org/2996.aspx Accessed 2010.
4 “Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth.” National Institute on Aging. July 29, 2008. http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/teeth.htm Accessed 2010.