Still smiling: Learn about dentures and you

Needing false teeth used to mean having to endure loose, slippery, one-size-fits-all dentures. Fortunately, false teeth have come a long way in the past few years. They’re definitely not your grandma and grandpa’s dentures! Today’s dentures look much more natural and feel much more comfortable. Whether you’re one of the 36 million Americans who have none of their natural teeth, or only some of your teeth are missing or damaged, dentures can restore your smile. Here’s your guide to thriving with dentures. 

What kind of dentures are there?

Dentures — sometimes called false teeth — are removable replacements for missing teeth. Complete dentures are needed when all teeth are missing. Partial dentures fill the gaps when some natural teeth remain. 

There are two kinds of complete and partial dentures

• Conventional dentures are custom-made and inserted about eight weeks after teeth have been removed and gum tissue has healed.

• Immediate dentures are placed as soon as teeth are removed so you don’t have to be without teeth after extraction. They require more adjustments and are usually a temporary solution until conventional dentures are ready. 

How can I adjust to dentures?

Dentures may feel uncomfortable or loose until your cheek and tongue muscles learn to keep them in place. Fortunately, you can ask your dentist about using dental adhesive to improve the fit.

You will likely need to adapt to eating with dentures. While you’re getting used to them, you should chew slowly and eat soft foods cut into small pieces. You should also avoid sticky or hard foods and avoid chewing gum.

You may also have difficulty pronouncing some words at first with either full or partial dentures. It can help to speak slowly and practice enunciating words that you find hard to say.


How do I care for my dentures?

Once you’re used to your new smile, make sure you maintain it by taking great care of your dentures and mouth. You should always:

• Remove your dentures before going to bed to let your gums rest and prevent injury. If you have partial dentures, be sure to take them out before brushing your natural teeth for the two full minutes.

• Brush your dentures every day with a brush and cleanser designed for denture cleaning. Toothpaste is too harsh for dentures and can actually damage them!

• Brush your gums, tongue and palate with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush after removing and before inserting dentures.

• Keep your dentures moist when not in use by soaking them in a denture cleaning solution or plain water. Make sure you rinse your dentures thoroughly before putting them back into your mouth.

Maintain regular dental checkups. When you go for a checkup, your dentist will make sure your dentures fit properly and will examine your mouth to make sure it’s healthy. If your dentures no longer fit well, it may be a sign of osteoporosis. X-rays will be able to detect bone loss or weakness.