Your First Dentures or Partial Dentures

Your first dentures or partial dentures

 

If you are new to dentures/partial dentures this short outline will help clarify what you can expect in the first year or two. Whether your prosthetic was inserted right after tooth extraction or you waited for your gums to heal your early experience will be similar. I have not sugar coated anything but don't be discouraged, over fourty million North Americans have learned to wear unattached dentures successfully and you can too. I am determined to make your experience as successful as it can be.

 

Your dentures or partial dentures will feel big, foreign and stimulate your salivary glands for some time. For anywhere from two hours to two weeks the six major salivary glands will work overtime. The extra fluid will float your new dentures off their foundation and make things more difficult. Eventually the excess production will stop and the saliva will help to create a seal.

 

The forces acting on your dentures originate from a number of sources: muscles, mucosal tissue, sticky foods, excess liquid, gravity, suction, adhesion, cohesion, design and occlusal forces. Some of these forces help to stabilize the dentures but most will dislodge them. The most obvious dislodging force is using the dentures to eat. Learning to balance food, dentures and biting forces and direct this pressure through a bolus of food that can only be felt indirectly through the denture base takes a lot of practice and perseverance. On average people new to dentures take about 90 days of daily wear (including meals) to begin to use their dentures properly. You won't master your dentures if you don't wear them when you eat. No two experiences will be the same; even if the dentures are made by the same person, too much depends on your anatomy. Much of your success will depend on your perseverance, the condition of the remaining ridges and the amount of space between your gums for artificial teeth. Your friend's advice may be helpful but the experience of someone who has been wearing dentures for ten or twenty years is not relevant to you.

 

You would think that having more bone would be a benefit but there can be too much of a good thing, at some point there is not enough room for dentures. If your gums are larger than average or more rugged than usual, the space available between the gums for dentures is reduced and until the bone heals and then rounds off, learning to use dentures may be a challenge. Your jaw operates comfortably within a vertical space of about fifteen millimeters so just opening wider does not solve the problem. The bone reduction will take twelve to eighteen months to reach a state that allows more than minimum room for artificial teeth. Some of the problem can be dealt with when extractions are done through bone reduction but most of the time all existing bone is left to round off naturally.

If gradual tooth wear and loss has led to reduced vertical space one of the consequences may be shortening of muscles and ligaments which may not be able to recover. This situation can also occur if a reline or new dentures are postponed for over two years. Dealing with these changes while they are small and reversible is one reason for relines. For the first year or so it is best to deal with these changes with replaceable liners called tissue conditioning because they will need to be done often and are less expensive.

 

You may develop sore spots or bite your cheeks and tongue with new dentures. This can be a problem whether you are new to dentures or experienced. Your muscles will adapt to the new shape of your oral cavity in time. If the problem persists beyond six months some occlusal adjustments can be done.

Unless your dentures are attached to implants they will move when you eat because the chewing force is easily stronger than any suction that will occur. This applies to partial dentures as well. Learning to use dentures is as much about discovering what you can not do as learning what you can do. Biting off hard or tough foods and chewing on one side will always dislodge dentures. You may be able to reduce the number of times they dislodge by counteracting these forces with your tongue. Food will seem to find its way under your denture all on its own. The food is actually being pushed there by your tongue and cheeks as part of the action of chewing. Remember your dentures and partials are not part of you so when they are pushed off your gums by some of the forces mentioned earlier food will also be pushed underneath. Artificial teeth are only 20% as efficient as natural teeth due to the pain limitations of the oral mucosa, you will take longer to eat a meal.

 

By changing the shape of your oral cavity your speech will also change. New patterns will need to be developed that compensate for the loss of room and sense of touch so that you speak clearly. Reading out loud for some time each day will help the situation improve faster.

 

Your new dentures will need maintenance to retain a close fit to your gums as they heal and remodel. Near the end of the first year the shrinkage of the bone will slow down noticeably. This is the time to get your first permanent reline , you will need a reline approximately every two years to replace lost hard and soft tissue. This bone shrinkage is called resorption and will continue for the rest of your life at a rate of about 1mm per year. In some cases a new denture is recommended due to large changes in your anatomy. The costs for these services is not included in the price for your first denture. The normal cycle for denture service and maintenance is; new denture---reline at 2-3 years--- new denture at five years. Some higher quality teeth may last long enough to have two relines done between denture replacement. The rate that relines need to be done depends on the rate of resorption of your oral tissue and the wear of the artificial teeth, the tissue fitting surface of the denture does not wear down.

 

I don't want to promise you something that can not be delivered but I will promise to work with you until your dentures are functioning as well as they can. In the end you will be one of fourty million denture wearers that can eat, smile and speak with confidence and comfort.

 

Remember that I am here to help you adapt to your new dentures, if you need an adjustment, or just to know that things are progressing normally, just give the office a call.