Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic) or metal. They're custom-made to fit your mouth, and to resemble your natural teeth as much as possible.
When are dentures recommended?
They're often fitted when teeth have been lost or have to be removed due to decay, gum disease, accidents or dental abnormalities. They help fill any gaps and can help you eat more comfortably and speak clearly.
Dentures can also boost your confidence by improving the appearance of your smile.
When you first get your dentures fitted, they may feel a bit strange. This is because the tongue and cheek muscles have to get used to keeping them in place. However, once you're familiar with how to insert and remove them, you'll soon get used to wearing them.
Dental adhesives, available from pharmacies, can enhance the stability and bite force of your dentures but are not always recommended – ask your pharmacist or dentist for advice.
Are there different types of dentures?
There are two types of dentures:
• Complete dentures – replace all the teeth in the upper or lower jaw. They fit snugly over the gums
• Partial dentures – replace just one tooth or a few missing teeth. They fill the gap left by a missing tooth and prevent the surrounding teeth growing crooked or tilted to fill the space. Missing teeth can also affect the way you bite which can then damage your other teeth. Partial dentures are fastened to your existing teeth with metal clasps or clips
Do I need to wear them at night?
You might need to wear your dentures at night to start with. Your dentist or clinical dental technician will tell you whether this is necessary. However, you should remove your dentures at night when you've been given the go-ahead by your dentist. This lets the gum tissue rest and allows normal mouth stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and saliva. Store your dentures overnight in a glass of water to prevent them drying out and altering shape.
How do I look after dentures?
• Clean your dentures as you would your teeth – so by brushing twice a day, to remove plaque and any food debris. Unclean dentures can lead to problems such as bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and oral thrush
• Brush them using a non-abrasive denture cleaner, not toothpaste
• Soak them in cold water after brushing. You may want to use a denture-cleaning tablet, available from your pharmacy. These tablets dissolve in water and help to remove stubborn stains and leave your dentures feeling fresher. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions
• Brush your dentures again after soaking
• Remember to clean your teeth and gums
• Drop your dentures as they're liable to break. Always clean them over a bowl of water or folded towel in case they slip out of your hand
• Scrub your dentures too hard as this may scratch the surface
• Eat extremely sticky or hard foods or chewing gum which can damage them
• When you wear dentures, it's really important not to neglect your oral health. You should still brush your remaining teeth and gums twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to keep them healthy
If you're unsure how to look after your dentures, or they're causing you problems, always ask your dentist or clinical dental technician for advice.
• Clean your dentures by brushing twice a day, using a non-abrasive denture cleanser or soap and water
• After brushing, soak in cold water with a denture-cleaning tablet and then brush again after soaking
• See your dentist if you're unsure how to look after your dentures or experience any problems