Hi, I’m Dr. Brett Langston. I’m a prosthodontist and owner here at Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialist in Brookhaven, Georgia, and I’m here to help you watch your mouth. So today, we’re going to talk about removable dentures. This is going to be a complete guide from A to Z. Everything you want to know from, do I even need one too, now that I’ve got one, how do I take care of it to my mom or my father or my ill sister is in hospice and has a denture. How do I help them take care of it? What are some things to help kind of get them through that?
Understanding Types of Removable Dentures
So to start off, when we’re talking about removal dentures, there are pretty much two kinds of removal dentures. There’s a partial denture, which, as its name implies, is only a half denture, which replaces a couple of teeth in the mouth that’s built around your remaining existing teeth.
And then there’s complete dentures, which is when you have no teeth left at all. In that subcategory of removable complete dentures, we also got implant-supported dentures. So there are a couple of different things, and we’ve got other videos that’ll dive deeper into that.
The Journey from Natural Teeth to Dentures
Today’s goal is to talk about care and how we go from having teeth to having a denture. The first step is to come in and see us. That step is a data-collecting appointment where we meet you, learn your health history, go into each individual tooth, and determine the favorability of that tooth as well as the overall look at your mouth. Our default mode is to save teeth, and we always want to save teeth, but sometimes you get to the point, whether it’s periodontal disease and bone loss or decay and cavities, where we can’t save all the teeth.
Creating Your Permanent Dentures
And at that point, we need to start looking at a denture. And one thing to keep in mind, too, is, unfortunately, if you only have one or two good, healthy teeth, we can’t really build around those teeth. So sometimes, in planning everything out, if there’s only one good tooth here or there, unfortunately, we do have to sacrifice that tooth because it gives us a blank canvas. It gives us a whole arch to build something that has a good foundation, is stable, and is functional. So, once we determine that the dentures are right for you, we start the process of making those dentures. Now, most patients who come to us who need dentures have some teeth that are failing, ailing, and hurting them. And so we have to transition from having teeth to what we call an immediate denture.
Final Stages of Creation and Adjustments
And so the process of that is we get our impressions, our data gathering. We do either scans or full mouth impressions so that my lab and I can design your immediate denture so that a couple of weeks later, when you’ve got your surgery scheduled, you come in comfortably, get your nice and numb sedation if necessary, take those teeth out. And on that day of surgery, we’ve got your immediate set of teeth that go into your mouth to replace all your missing teeth. So you wear that immediate denture for about three to four months. Along the way, we may need to redline it with a soft material, make it more comfortable, and make it functional because your mouth is going to change. The bone is there to hold the teeth in place. And as you lose those teeth, the body’s very efficient, the bone remodels, everything shrinks and gets smaller. And so what fits on day one is no longer going to fit through the process of your healing. So that’s why we have to reign it.
Once the body is healed and everything is stable, we can start the process of your permanent denture. Now, the permanent denture is a lot more involved because we have to do a lot of measuring. It’s a lot of customization. There are about five appointments involved in the process of going from having no teeth and being healed to your final set of dentures. And that involves custom impression trays a jaw relation record where we determine exactly the right way to get your top and bottom jaws to come together. We also have a tooth selection process because, believe it or not, there are so many different types of teeth out there ranging in shape and size and color, and shading that can really impact what your smile looks like.
Implanting & Happy Tooth Day
So we go through that process of customizing it, making it fit your face, making it fit your personality, making it fit your age, making it fit the persona that you want to have represented. And then there’s a final try in which is the last stage before we process the denture. And that’s the appointment that I always tell my patients, make sure you bring a loved one. Make sure you bring someone who will give it to you straight because you don’t want somebody to just say, yeah, it looks great. And if it doesn’t, if it’s not perfect, we want someone that’ll tell you, Hey, that doesn’t look quite right, little too light, little too dark, the teeth don’t look like you. Whatever it is, that’s a great time for us to really hone in and make those changes that we need to make your smile perfect.
And then the final appointment is the delivery appointment, and that’s the appointment where we call it happy tooth day, where you get your teeth. So you get your teeth, whether it’s just top, just bottom, top and bottom. Either way, that’s the day you take ’em home. And so there’s a lot of adjustment from that day. We’re going to put ’em in, they’re going to feel snug, they’re going to feel tight, they’re going to fit really well.
Learning to Live with Dentures
But that’s when the learning curve starts because all of a sudden, you’re going from either having some teeth or having that immediate denture to a whole new set of teeth. So you have to retrain your mouth, how to eat, how to talk, how to chew, how to function. So there’s a lot of things that go into that, whether it’s the cheek muscles or the tongue muscles, just the general way.
You have to kind of pose your jaw to hold everything together. And on top of that, when we change the teeth and when we change the dynamics of your mouth, you’re going to have to adjust to speaking because talking is very driven by the tongue. It’s very driven by where those teeth are. And so you’re going to have to kind of relearn and reteach yourself how to talk. Now, it’s not a major undertaking, and within a couple of days, most people are acclimated to their denture and talking, and we’ve got tips and tricks, whether it’s reading out loud, chewing, singing. Singing is a big one. Even if they’re horrible singers, I tell my patients to sing in the car when you’re by themselves because singing goes through the whole motion of mouth movements and formation and everything and talking effects. So singing is great, and reading out loud is great.
In addition to kind of reteaching your mouth how to talk, you also have to learn how to chew because dentures are very different than natural teeth. Natural teeth. If you have a side that you prefer dentures, you have to load bilaterally. And so you have to put food on both sides, and it’s a very foreign concept if you haven’t done it before. And most people that have natural teeth have never done that before, but it’s very quickly learned, very easily kind of mastered. But it’s just one of those things that you don’t think about, and no one’s ever told you about it. You would never have any reason to think about it. So chewing a little differently, talking differently, but these are all things that you can adapt to.
Caring for Dentures and Oral Health
A big problem that we have is people who don’t have dentures or have never been exposed to dentures, don’t know how to take care of them, and don’t know how to help people who have dentures in their lives.
So we have a lot of patients that either are in hospice care or hospitalized or are unable mentally and physically to take care of their own mouth. And so one of the things that we wanted to do was to show caregivers and family members that are helping out basically what you need to be aware of and how you can help them take care of their dentures. One of the big things about that is they need to be taken out at night. Dentures are never made to be in 24 hours a day. It’s very important to take them out, clean them, let the tissue rest and heal. The number one thing to clean with is that every patient we have gets a home care kit that has a denture brush and some other materials, a container to storm in at night. But the most important thing is you need to brush those dentures inside and outside, and we recommend antimicrobial soap and warm water that does the best job, gets everything clean, gets it nice and debunked, if you will, gets everything taken care of, put it in some kind of cleaning solution that will help kind of get everything off that you couldn’t get off manually.
Then, allow the tissue to heal and rest overnight. It’s really important because if you leave it in 24/7, it’s going to collect gross stuff. It’s going to cause fungus, it’s going to cause bacteria, and you don’t want that. Another thing is never to take them out, wrap them in a paper towel or a napkin, and put them on a counter. That is a guaranteed recipe for them to be thrown in the trash. We have had so many patients, unfortunately, someone was trying to do the right thing, take ’em out, put ’em on a counter, and they got thrown away. So always put ’em in a container, always put ’em somewhere safe that you know they’re not going to get accidentally thrown out. Another reason not to put ’em in a napkin or on the countertop is that pets love dentures. That is the most wonderful treat for them.
It smells like its owner. It’s great. It’s hard, it’s chewy, but unfortunately, that’s really; I call it the most expensive chew toy you’ll ever buy for your dog because at that point, once it’s been chewed and damaged, there’s no repair. It’s a start over from day one type approach. And so I can’t stress this enough, it’s very important that when you take them out of the patient’s mouth, put ’em in a safe spot where they’re not going to be accidentally discarded or damaged. And another note, when you’re cleaning, always put a washcloth or a towel in the sink because everybody has good intentions. When you’ve got soap, and you’ve got a denture, it can get really slippery. And a lot of times, acrylic versus porcelain, the porcelain sink’s always going to win. And so if you drop a denture, you can often break the teeth off and crack the denture.
So it’s always important to put something soft in the sink that you’re cleaning the denture over so that if you slash when you do drop it, it won’t break. Here are some of the best questions you can ask your dentist prior to getting a denture. Throughout the process of dentures and after Denture Home care, the number one question is, can I save my teeth? We always try to save teeth, and it’s important to explore and see the possibility of saving teeth. If you could just immediately come in and take the teeth out, that’s never the best solution. Like I tell patients, a denture is not a replacement for your teeth. We can’t make something to replace your teeth as naturally as you have. A denture is just a solution for missing teeth. So we don’t make the jump from teeth to a denture lightly.
Common Denture Problems
Now, having said that a lot of times, if your teeth are painful, if they’re in the wrong position, if you’re not able to function, if you’re not able to use them or they’re unhealthy and not saveable, absolutely a denture, that’s something we can do. It’s a great solution, but you definitely want to make sure that a denture and losing those teeth is the right answer. A properly made denture should be stable and should be comfortable. You shouldn’t have sore spots that linger on and on. Now, occasionally if a denture rocks and moves a little bit, it can have a sore spot, and you need to make sure that whoever made that denture for you or your dentist is always available to make those adjustments. Inevitably, as the mouth goes through changes, sometimes you’ll get food stuck under there or a little tiny seed or a particle, and you may get an abrasion.
It’s really important that you come to see us so that we can adjust the denture and make sure your tissue’s healing okay. A lot of times, as the mouth changes, you may need to reline the dentures. We may need to make some changes. So, a denture is basically an acrylic pink base to replace the missing gum structure and bone structure and then tooth-colored plastic teeth to replace the missing teeth. So they’re basically, you’ve got the pink acrylic and the white denture teeth that are one unit. They go in, and they replace the missing bone and gum, but also the teeth over time as you chew; these denture teeth are going to wear because they’re just not as strong and durable, especially if you have a denture opposing natural teeth. In natural teeth, the enamel is the hardest structure in the body, so over time, it will wear denture teeth.
So one thing to be aware of is that as those denture teeth wear, that bite is going to change, and they’re going to have to be replaced. And again, it’s on a case-by-case basis. We have some patients who have had dentures for 30 years. The teeth are doing great; they’re holding up well. I have other patients who, at two years, have all the denture teeth worn down to the point where they have to be replaced. So it’s important to kind of make sure you have a maintenance and a follow-up procedure. In our practice, we like to see denture patients at least once a year, if not twice,
That us to check their oral tissue. It allows us to do cancer screenings and also allows us to clean their appliance professionally and make sure there aren’t any micro cracks, make sure the teeth are holding up well, and to kind of plan for any repairs that we might have to do in the future.
Contact Dr. Brett Langston’s Office Today to Learn More About Our Dental Implant Options.
So if you have questions about your denture or would like somebody to take a look at it and make sure everything’s okay, please call us. We’d love to see you and take a look. I’m Brett Langston, Prosthodontist and owner of Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialist of Atlanta in Brookhaven, Georgia, and I’m here to help you watch your mouth.