Having teeth extracted is not an uncommon experience. Trauma, disease, and infection are common reasons for the loss of one’s natural teeth. While this may be a little confronting at first, especially if the lost teeth leave gaps in your smile, it isn’t the end of life as you know it. Whether you have just a few missing teeth requiring a partial denture, or a need to replace all your teeth with a full denture, you will find the following information on preparing for your dentures useful.
Firstly, we detail what you can expect when getting dentures for the first time and then suggest five things to prepare for your transition from natural teeth to dentures.
I’m getting dentures for the first time, what can I expect?
You can expect compassion and care from your oral health professionals throughout the process. They are helping people just like you all the time. They are used to reassuring nervous or anxious patients so don’t be afraid to raise concerns you may have. No doubt they have dealt with the very same concerns before. From choosing the right denture for you, to being offered the most up to date denture information, your dental prosthetist and denture team have your best interests at heart.
You can expect help finding out how to pay for your dentures. Most clinics offer denture payment plans as well as hi-cap facilities for on-the-spot private health rebates. They can also guide you through the public system and assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
You can expect the latest technology offering the most advanced options for false teeth which are durable, comfortable, and natural looking.
You can expect collaboration between professionals. Dentists and other dental professionals combine an increasing body of knowledge to work closely with dental prosthetists and laboratory technicians who craft your dentures to produce the best possible outcome for you.
You can also expect assistance with managing your own expectations concerning appearance and functionality. Your dental prosthetist and team are there to guide you through the early days of adjusting to your denture; how to adjust to having a foreign body in your mouth; how to clean and care for your denture and mouth; making adjustments to your denture should it be necessary.
You can expect some emotional weather when you transition from natural teeth to artificial or ‘false’ teeth. While not everyone is affected in the same way, being prepared will ensure you’re not ambushed by unexpected feelings. According to respondents in one study, after experiencing tooth loss people felt sad (12.9%), depressed (6.4%), grief for the loss of a body part (14%) and a sense of ageing (2.3%). While 7.6% of the respondents were unconcerned.i
Knowing that others have experienced similar feelings to yours will help. Joining a denture forum on social media will put you in touch with others who have already traversed the change. Many are generous with suggestions and advice on how they coped.
How can I prepare in advance to get the best results?
5 things to do before getting a denture
Prepare your attitude
This is one of the most important ways to ensure your best denture result. Having a realistic and positive approach to getting your new denture will see you through this period of change.
- Make a point of learning as much as you can about what having and wearing dentures entail.
- Ask other denture wearers you know. They might be tricky to identify since dentures can look so natural that denture wearers are becoming increasingly difficult to pick. Join denture forums on social media.
- Expect the best. Think of the innumerable denture wearers who have gone before you, some of whom have successfully worn dentures for most of their lives.
You can prepare ahead by being as healthy as you can.
- Smoking affects all parts of your physical health but especially sensitive mouth tissues as they are healing. Do yourself a favour, now might be the right time to give up smoking.
- Plan ahead to have nourishing meals that are easy on healing gums.
- As you adjust to your new dentures you will learn new ways of chewing, so during this phase, choose soft foods rather than steaks or food that requires chewing or biting. Eating soft foods while you are recovering from extractions and becoming used to the denture will help to avoid sore spots on tender gums.
- Planning ahead gives you some control over your recovery and acclimatisation which in turn, contributes to a better state of mind.
Relieve yourself of financial anxiety by having strategies in place ahead of time to deal with payment of your new denture.
- Research a means of paying that suits your pocket. Remember, your wellbeing is at stake here, so don’t scrimp on the best dentures you can afford. They’ll be worth it in the long term.
Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for this major change in your life can be empowering.
- Patience and perseverance are key. Learn as much as you can about recovering post extraction. Your dental prosthetist and other involved dental professionals will give you ‘before and after’ tooth extraction and denture fitting guidelines – be sure to follow them.
- Take your time becoming accustomed to your new dentures. Commit to new ways of eating and speaking. Understand a denture is not the same as natural teeth so adjusting to a denture after the loss of your teeth takes practice, but practising will reward you.
- After you have your new denture fitted, have strategies in place to help you adjust. Try singing in the shower. Read out loud at home. Confidence will follow and then you can enjoy your social debut with a beaming smile.
While initially you may delay plans to socialise until after healing takes place, when you do eventually make your social life debut, be prepared for the compliments headed your way.
- Learn to smile your acceptance of all the nice things people will say about your appearance. Did you know smiling people are perceived as more intelligent than those who don’t smile?ii
- Moreover, smiling is known to release endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones, which lift your mood, relieve stress, reduce pain, and boost your immune system.iii
Preparing in advance for getting dentures relieves some of the anxiety which surrounds such a major change. Knowing what to expect during the transition from natural teeth to prosthetic or false teeth, removes uncertainty and helps you prepare. Proactively taking control of your experience by putting strategies in place to deal with contingencies, even those that don’t eventuate, makes it easier to expect the best outcome. While some apprehension is normal about a big change, many new denture wearers are so delighted with the outcome they wish they had done it sooner.
[i] Okoje VN, Dosumu OO, Alonge TO, Onyeaso C. Tooth loss: are the patients prepared? Niger J Clin Pract. 2012 Apr-Jun;15(2):172-5. doi: 10.4103/1119-3077.97305. PMID: 22718167. [ii] Beall AE. Can a new smile make you look more intelligent and successful? Dent Clin North Am. 2007 Apr;51(2):289-97, vii. doi: 10.1016/j.cden.2007.02.002. PMID: 17532913. [iii] Sing Lau (1982) The Effect of Smiling on Person Perception, The Journal of Social Psychology, 117:1, 63-67, DOI: 10.1080/00224545.1982.9713408.
Disclaimer – Always consult your oral health professional for expert advice about your unique personal situation. The information given here is of a general nature and for the purpose of education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your oral health specialist
Northern Rivers Denture Clinic is located in the heart of Tweed Heads, southern Gold Coast. Finally have the smile you deserve with handcrafted, quality dentures.