Crowns and Bridges
If only one or two of your teeth are missing, and an implant isn’t suitable for you, your dentist may recommend a bridge. This consists of two crowns, which are placed on your natural teeth on either side of the space, with a false tooth in the middle. This way, your new false tooth is held firmly in place by your own teeth on either side.
Bridges are made of porcelain and/or metal and there are many designs. Discussions with your dentist will let you obtain the best design. This will depend on the location of your missing tooth and the condition of your mouth, teeth and gums. Your dentist will cement the bridge in place, so you won't have to remove it for cleaning. To keep your natural teeth healthy, clean the gap under the bridge with special dental floss. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to floss under your bridge. Another type of bridge called an adhesive bridge has wings that your dentist bonds to the back of your supporting teeth. Ask your dentist which type is the best option for you.
Full upper dentures cover the roof of your mouth (palate). A very thin layer of saliva between your palate and the denture creates suction, which keeps the denture firmly in position. Your facial muscles and tongue also help to keep it in place.
Full lower dentures are often more difficult to keep in place because there is less support from your gums. It can be difficult to balance the denture against your cheeks and tongue. However, this should improve with time as you get used to it.
Most people won’t need to use denture adhesive cream (fixative). However, some people may choose to use it because they find it helps with their confidence while getting used to the new dentures.
Getting used to dentures
It is very important to have realistic expectations of dentures. Getting used to them will take time. They should help you to eat, speak and smile confidently, but even the best dentures won’t feel the same as natural teeth.
Your mouth may feel a bit sore and uncomfortable to start with, however, your dentures should start to feel a bit more secure as you get used to them. Your dentist may schedule a check-up appointment a week after fitting your new dentures to check the fit. If you’re having problems, they can make any necessary adjustments. You may need more than one appointment for adjustments but your dentist will let you know about it.
You might also find some words difficult to pronounce at first, but this usually improves with time.
It can take a while to get used to eating with new dentures, so it’s best to start with soft food. Try to use both sides of your mouth at the same time. This will help to keep your dentures in place.
Looking after your dentures and mouth
Brush any of your remaining natural teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If you have dentures, it’s important to clean your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth with a soft brush.
With dentures, it’s best to brush, soak, then brush again. Clean your dentures after every meal using a soft toothbrush and soap. It’s a good idea to brush them over a bowl of water or a towel to prevent damaging your dentures if you drop them. Ensure that you clean all the surfaces of your dentures, including the areas that sit against your gums. You can then soak them in a denture cleaning solution if you wish, as this may help to remove any stains. Then brush your dentures again.
If you have a soft lining on your denture, ask your dentist for advice before you use a denture cleaning solution. These linings are delicate and can be damaged by cleaning solutions. Don’t soak your dentures in any type of bleach or very hot water, as this can weaken them and change their appearance.
It’s important to take your dentures out at night to allow your mouth to rest. Doing this can also help to prevent infections, such as fungal infections. Leave them in a glass of water overnight so they don’t dry out.
If your dentures become worn or don’t fit properly, they can be irritating and uncomfortable. Ideally, you should have your dentures re-made before these problems arise. Even if you have no natural teeth left, it’s still important to have regular check-ups with your dentist. Your dentist will assess the fit of your dentures and check for any problems or health issues.