Dentures, once known as false teeth, have existed since about 700 BC. Anthropologists discovered dentures made from human and animal teeth. In the early 1700’s, ivory from the elephant and walrus were used to create dentures and when sugar found its way into the diet, it became the leading cause of tooth decay which often resulted in the victim requiring them.
Not all people who wear dentures are older adults, and not all older adults have to wear them. Accidents or dental traumas can cause a partial or full loss of teeth and dentures may be required. Some older adults have never had dental disease or trauma and have kept their healthy, natural teeth.
What Are Dentures?
Dentures are nothing less than replacement teeth and there are two types: partial and complete.
Partial dentures are worn if you are missing one or two teeth. You can get partial dentures which “clip on” to your other natural teeth, filling in the gaps where the missing teeth once were. Complete dentures are not fixed to the gums or other teeth but are fitted to the mouth, and rest inside of the mouth using adhesive.
You can only replace lost teeth by having an anchor for them. If you are missing most or all of your teeth, there will be nothing to anchor to, and a complete set of dentures will be needed.
Which type of dentures you will need depends on many factors and only your dentist can advise you on which type you need, however, usually, you can be given partial dentures when you have less than two missing teeth. If you have more than that, the space between natural teeth is too wide. It may also depend on where the missing teeth are at in your mouth.
You may be given complete dentures if you have had gum disease or dental decay and your natural teeth cannot be saved. A dentist’s first concern is always to save the natural teeth which is the healthiest option. You can be prescribed dentures if you have persistent pain or root infections. Sometimes, complete dentures can improve the quality of life for the person who previously was unable to eat and digest properly due to dental distress.
Protecting Your Dentures
Dentures, like natural teeth, need care and cleaning. The following four tips will help protect your investment as well as your oral health:
- Handle Dentures Properly
Dentures can chip, crack, and break if hit or dropped. Always handle them carefully, especially when cleaning them. Be careful with the use of utensils and drinking glasses until you have gotten used to your dentures as the dentures have no nerve endings like natural teeth do. You won’t feel a fork hitting too hard against a tooth or a glass chipping a denture when drinking.
- Clean Dentures Daily
You must always give the inside of your mouth a rest from dentures by removing them every night. Your dentures need to be cleaned every day, and while your mouth is resting, this is the perfect time to clean them. Although you should rinse your dentures and rinse your gums after every meal, dentures will need a daily proper cleaning.
Put a small hand towel or washrag in the sink and fill it with water, never hot. If you should accidentally drop your dentures, they will land on the protection of the towel. Toothpaste should never be used but your dentist can advise you of an over-the-counter denture cleanser. After you clean them thoroughly and gently, you can soak them overnight in a denture solution. Dentures should always be kept moist so that they retain their proper shape.
- Visit The Dentist Regularly
Most dentists want to check the function and comfort of your dentures every six months. You may need adjustments and it is possible that a few minor things might arise that you aren’t aware are adjustment issues. It is always uncomfortable to some extent when first learning to wear dentures, but there should never be pain and if there is, a visit to your dentist is in order. Your dentures may need realignments or other small repairs.
- Use The Right Products
Because regular toothpaste and mouthwash are formulated for natural teeth, you should only use dental care products specifically created for dentures. Denture soaking solution is also needed so that your dentures do not dry out overnight. All denture care dental products have chemicals in their composition that can be harmful if swallowed or irritating if remaining in contact with the gums. Always rinse your mouth well after using these products, and rinse your dentures after they have been soaking before you put them in your mouth.