How to get used to new dentures

How to get used to new dentures

After you’ve made the momentous decision to replace damaged or missing teeth with a denture, you must then adjust to wearing a foreign object in your mouth to replace your natural teeth. Make no mistake, this will be a considerable adjustment on your part, not only to the important functions of eating and speaking but also the psychological change of learning to depend on a prosthetic device rather than the teeth you grew up with. Even seasoned denture wearers who are replacing old dentures with new, must also expect a transitioning period of learning to adjust. In this article we offer suggestions for making the transition as smooth as possible and discuss what you can expect during the adjustment period. We also emphasise the importance of having a ‘patience and perseverance’ mindset to ensure denture wearing success.

Having the right mindset

Having the right mindset will take you far when it comes to wearing dentures successfully. Recognising the value of patience and persistence will help during what can be a challenging time as you adjust to your new denture. Proactively seeking out helpful measures during this period will give you some sense of control. Having an idea of what to expect including some notion of how long it will take, will also assist in the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor should you expect to wear new dentures successfully as soon as you pop them in your mouth.

How long will it take to get used to my new dentures?

The settling in period for new dentures will depend on an individual’s circumstances, but generally new denture wearers are reasonably comfortable from 2 to 4 weeks after having the dentures fitted.[i] [ii] One study reported good patient adjustment in one month for aesthetic appearance, speaking, and retention but the ability to chew took a little longer. Be prepared for some discomfort during the early phase of transitioning.

The importance of well-fitting dentures

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have well-fitting dentures. While your denture may have fitted perfectly to begin, as your mouth heals, tissue and gum shrinkage occurs altering your denture’s previously snug fit. Your prosthetist can restore the fit with a denture reline or adjustment which improves occlusion, retention, stability and the support of your facial muscles. These corrections improve not only oral function, but also the patient’s self-esteem. [iii]

Common complaints about new dentures

Initially your denture may feel too bulky and hard to control in your mouth. You may find yourself drooling with an increased saliva flow in the first few days. Both these issues resolve quickly as your mouth gets used to the denture. Your facial muscles and gums may feel sore after extractions and the unfamiliar pressure of the denture on your sensitised gums. Be reassured this too will pass as your tissues heal and your muscles learn to hold your denture in place. During this time be vigilant with any sore spots and consult your prosthetist early rather than wait for ulcers to develop. Follow post extraction advice, like warm saltwater mouth washes, to accelerate healing. Adjustments may be needed and are easily implemented. You may have all, some, or indeed none of the above-mentioned issues. The following tips can help reduce the adjustment time.

Tips for adjusting to new dentures

  • Adjust your expectations and try to focus on the future when your dentures will be a normal part of your life – it helps to remind yourself of your improved appearance.
  • Wear your dentures as much as you can during the day – your mouth will adjust more quickly to the foreign object and saliva production will normalise.
  • Give your mouth a rest at night – facial muscles and gum tissue need respite from the unfamiliar object they are dealing with. Exposing the oral tissue to air and releasing the pressure will avoid tissue damage and possible infection.
  • Practise speaking by reading aloud or even singing with your denture in.
  • Choose foods wisely – soft foods to begin. Work up to eating more normal foods as your confidence and ability to hold the denture in place grows.
  • Make your prosthetist your best friend – don’t put off getting help if something isn’t right.
  • Speak to your prosthetist about using denture adhesive as a temporary measure until you get used to holding your denture in place.
  • Practise good oral hygiene to protect sensitised mouth and gum tissues and preserve your new dentures in their best possible state. [iv]

Choosing the right food

  • For the first few days with your new dentures, try smoothies, soups and soft foods like eggs until your gums heal enough to take the pressure of biting down.
  • Small mouthfuls are best. Cutting your food up into smaller pieces will make chewing and swallowing more manageable.
  • Chew your food slowly and carefully to avoid inadvertently biting soft tissues like the inside of your cheeks.
  • Try to chew with even pressure on both sides of your mouth until your muscles learn to hold the denture securely in place.
  • Avoid sticky foods like peanut butter which can dislodge your denture.
  • Avoid hard or extra chewy foods like toffees or steak.
  • Don’t attempt to use your front teeth to take a bite like you would an apple.

The importance of a good hygiene regime

Adopting a good oral hygiene regime will not only protect your overall health but also your hip pocket, together with fewer trips to oral health practitioners and better longevity for your denture will result. Healthy gum and oral tissues support your dentures and avoid infection. Keeping remaining natural teeth in good order benefits your overall health and avoids costly alterations to your dentures or even having to get new dentures made in the event you lose more teeth.

Tips for maintaining good oral hygiene

  • Be sure to eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet to protect against ill health.
  • Brush your oral surfaces and any remaining natural teeth with a soft brush twice daily.
  • Clean your denture according to prosthetist’s advice and leave to soak overnight.
  • Schedule regular check ups with your prosthetist and dentist to avoid small issues becoming large ones. This is especially important for partial dentures. The natural teeth to which your partial attaches must be kept in optimal condition to continue supporting the partial denture.

The difference between full upper and full lower dentures

It’s well known among denture wearers that full lower dentures are more difficult to hold in place than full upper dentures. While the upper denture creates good suction with the roof of your mouth, this isn’t the case for the lower denture. The horseshoe shape of a lower denture must allow space for the tongue, therefore relying on the gum ridges and facial muscles to stay in place. These difficulties will eventually resolve with time and practise.

Getting used to partial dentures

Partial dentures are easier than full dentures to adapt to. They are less bulky in your mouth and attach to your remaining natural teeth thus relying less on facial muscles for stability. Care of remaining natural teeth is especially important. Since your partial dentures attach to natural teeth with clasps, relying on them for stability, further loss of these teeth will require prosthetic work on your partial denture or even a new partial denture to adapt.

A final word on how to get used to new dentures

Breaking in new dentures can be challenging. Dentures will never be the same as natural teeth. However, your patience and perseverance will be rewarded with aesthetically pleasing and functioning dentures that allow you to smile with confidence again. Getting used to dentures may seem overwhelming to begin with as you deal with extractions and healing gums and tissues. It may seem you will never get used to the extra bulk in your mouth and feelings of insecurity as you learn to hold the denture firmly in place while eating, speaking, laughing, and smiling. But take a moment to look around you. You may not have been aware of how many successful denture wearers, friends, and family among them, who’ve been enjoying the benefits of dentures for years. If that’s not a good reason to smile, I’m not sure what is.


References

[i] Topić J, Poljak-Guberina R, Persic-Kirsic S, Kovacic I, Petricevic N, Popovac A, Čelebić A. Adaptation to New Dentures and 5 Years of Clinical Use: A Comparison between Complete Denture and Mini-implant Mandibular Overdenture Patients based on Oral Health-Related Quality of Life (OHRQoL) and Orofacial Esthetics. Acta Stomatol Croat. 2022 Jun;56(2):132-142. doi: 10.15644/asc56/2/4. PMID: 35821720; PMCID: PMC9262111.
[ii] https://doi.org/10.25241/stomaeduj.2022.9(1).art.5
[iii] Neal R Garrett, Krishan K Kapur, Paul Perez, Effects of improvements of poorly fitting dentures and new dentures on patient satisfaction, The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, Volume 76, Issue 4, 1996, Pages 403-413, ISSN 0022-3913, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3913(96)90546-6. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022391396905466)
iv https://www.guidedessoins.com/en/adaptation-new-dentures/



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