Recent posts on social media indicate how some people wonder if their dentures will ever feel normal. It seems as we age, acceptance for changes to our physical well-being shift. While we hope to be well and keep all our natural ‘bits’ into our latter years, realistically we know that won’t always be the case. Whether its failing eyesight and the need to wear glasses, or replacing worn out hips, we accept (and are grateful for) the technology to replace the God-given with the man-made. This is especially the case for our teeth.
But it’s not only the aged among us who need false teeth. So how do younger people fare when their expectations don’t match the reality? How do they cope when their sense of self doesn’t include wearing a denture, never mind ever feeling like their ‘normal’ selves again?
Everyone is different
Understanding this important factor is essential as you begin the process of getting dentures. Each person is unique. They have different levels of pain tolerance and perseverance, mouths of different sizes and topography and different expectations. That said, the question on everyone’s lips is …
What is ‘normal’ – What can I expect?
New denture wearers will begin to feel more ‘normal’ after about 30 days. During this time, you can expect to have some soreness and discomfort as your mouth heals and you become accustomed to having a foreign object in your mouth. Shrinkage may occur and the dentures could seem loose until your mouth muscles and tongue learn to keep them in place. You may experience a temporarily increased saliva flow which will settle as you become accustomed to the dentures. Learning to eat and speak again is to be expected and may take some months to master fully. Practise makes perfect!
Will it hurt?
Sore spots and some irritation are normal, especially if you’ve had tooth extractions and an immediate denture inserted. Rinsing with warm salty water helps healing and the persistent bad taste some people experience initially. Around the two-week mark, most of the initial soreness and excessive saliva should have settled. Some adjustments may be needed as the mouth tissue and gums shrink. Your prosthetist can help with this.
What if I need help?
The thing to remember is your dental prosthetist is there to help you. But that can’t be achieved unless you contact them. Don’t be shy, no matter how small you may think the problem is. You can be assured they have dealt with similar issues many times. Resolution and reassurance is only a phone call away.
Tips for Making My Dentures Feel ‘Normal’
Join a support group
Sharing your concerns and experiences helps you as well as others. There are numerous denture support groups online but the Denture Support Group Australia on FaceBook is worth a look. Why is being Australian important for getting information on dentures? Apart from the fact that Australian prosthetists are among the world’s best, it makes sense to compare apples with apples. Training, procedures, terminology, and materials can differ between countries.
Much of the angst expressed about dentures can be boiled down to fear of the unknown, but with patience and time, your dentures can feel normal. Arm yourself with information your oral health professional or fellow denture wearers provide on how others have met the challenge of new dentures. This will help to alleviate the stress of getting new dentures.
Be patient with yourself
Expectations play a large part in any successful endeavour. Paramount to having the right attitude is understanding that adapting to anything new requires patience and time to get used to the change. Compare notes with others by all means but remember that everyone is unique in their healing ability and tolerance levels. Healing takes time. Adapting to something foreign in your mouth, especially having plastic on the roof of your mouth, is a relearning exercise. This brings us to the next tip which is …
Choosing the right foods
Initially, your mouth will be tender. Biting down hard may cause unnecessary pain. Choosing softer foods cut into smaller portions will alleviate some of the discomfort of eating. Try eating slowly, balancing your chewing between both sides to spread the force of biting. Avoid sticky or hard foods. Some people find it useful to bite off foods by pressing against the back teeth on the upper denture. Drink plenty of fluids.
What about speaking?
Some new denture wearers have difficulty with speech initially. One way to get used to speaking with dentures is to sing along to your favourite music with long, slow, fluid phrases. This method can help you get used to forming certain words more easily. Presumably the music distracts you from self-consciousness and serves as practise to restore normal speech. Mastering eating and speaking with your new dentures will boost your confidence.
Follow your treatment plan
You’ve trusted your oral health provider thus far with your new dentures, so why wouldn’t you follow their advice for making the best recovery? Follow their instructions carefully. This might vary from care of the healing mouth, practising essential hygiene, to medications prescribed. It will also include follow up visits to ensure you’re making the optimal progress. Regular check-ups are a part of ensuring your dentures are the best they can be. Avail yourself of the expert advice. They will answer your queries, advise on products like denture adhesives if you need them, and schedule adjustments to denture fit as your mouth changes.
A final word
It appears the majority of people adapt well to their new dentures. Like our fascination for the news, we rarely focus on the good, but rather, we’re fixed by the horror stories. We don’t hear about the millions who wear dentures successfully. Of course, we all know dentures are not like natural teeth but they can eventually feel normal. Furthermore, they can be a very effective alternative, and in some cases, a preferable option to bad, unsightly or painful teeth. Knowing what to expect once you decide to get dentures goes a long way to alleviating the stress of their acquisition.
Each individual will adapt in their own unique way of wearing dentures. Some will take a little longer than others with more or less irritation or discomfort. But armed with information, support from your oral health professional and other denture wearers, and of course some personal perseverance, you can adjust to wearing dentures and enjoy life to the full.
Always consult your dental prosthetist for expert advice about your unique personal situation. The information given here is general and not meant to replace that 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.