What are dentures?

Dentures are a type of removable dental appliance that takes the place of missing teeth. They help you chew and speak better. They also improve your smile and appearance. You may hear people refer to dentures as false, artificial or fake teeth. Prosthodontists are dentists who specialize in teeth replacement.

Who might need dentures?

People over 60 are more likely to get dentures, but anyone might need this dental appliance. You might need dentures if you lose teeth due to:

What are the types of dentures?

Your healthcare provider will recommend the best denture type based on how many teeth are missing. Your provider may use denture types including:

  • Complete: These dentures rest on the gums. They replace a complete row of teeth on the upper gums, lower gums or both.
  • Partial: These dentures replace one or more missing teeth. The dentures attach to existing teeth or sometimes to dental implants (titanium screws).
  • Fixed partial: Also called dental bridges, fixed partial dentures permanently attach to surrounding teeth. Only a dental expert can remove a fixed partial denture or bridge.

How should I clean my dentures?

Dentures require daily cleanings just like natural teeth. You need to remove dentures from your mouth to clean them (unless you have a fixed partial denture). For proper denture care and cleaning, you should:

  • Take care of gums and teeth. Brush your gums, tongue and roof of your mouth, along with any natural teeth every morning and night. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Clean dentures over a towel on the bathroom counter or a sink filled with water. This way, dentures are less likely to break if you accidentally drop them.
  • Apply a small amount of hand soap, mild dishwashing liquid or denture cleanser to a soft-bristled brush made specifically for dentures. Do not use toothpaste or a regular toothbrush. These products are abrasive and can scratch the plastic material on dentures.
  • If you won’t be wearing the dentures again right away, place them in a container of cool water or a denture-cleansing solution. Dentures that dry out can permanently lose their shape.
  • Always rinse dentures after brushing and especially after soaking to get rid of the cleaning solution.

What else can I do to care for my dentures?

With proper care and maintenance, dentures can last up to seven years. Occasionally, your dentist may need to refit the denture base or make a new one using the teeth in the existing dentures. To ensure your dentures last, you should:

  • Remove and rinse off dentures after every meal or snack.
  • Never place dentures in hot water. The heat can warp the plastic denture material.
  • Try not to sleep while wearing dentures. Instead, place them in a glass of cool water overnight.
  • Consider occasionally using an ultrasonic cleaner. This device sends sound waves through a liquid denture cleanser. The sound waves dislodge food and other deposits.
  • Don’t try to fix broken dentures using over-the-counter repair kits or glue. You may irreparably damage the appliance. Instead, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
  • See your dentist if you develop mouth sores, gum irritation or an infection. Your dentist can adjust the dentures for a better fit. Don’t try to adjust dentures yourself. You could break them.
  • Don’t use bleach products or whitening toothpaste to whiten dentures. Bleach can weaken dentures and change their color. Plus, the plastic on dentures won’t whiten. You can minimize staining with proper brushing or soaking in denture cleanser.
  • Get regular dental check-ups to protect gum health, prevent cavities in remaining teeth and ensure proper denture fit.

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