Whether you need partial or full dentures to complete your smile after tooth loss, the truth is that they are not your natural teeth and they will take some getting used to. Dentures are one of several possible solutions to tooth loss, along with fixed bridgework and dental implants, just for example. In some cases, they are the only option, and in many cases, they are the most affordable option.
While dentures can improve appearance and function, allowing patients to smile and eat with confidence, just as they did before tooth loss, they feel and act differently than natural teeth. They may rub and irritate gums. You will have to figure out how to keep them in place with proper denture fixative products. You’ll have to learn how to smile, speak, eat, and drink while wearing dentures, and you’ll have to care for them properly.
This can entail a learning curve that drives some patients to extreme frustration. You naturally want everything to work as it used to, but when you have dentures, there’s going to be a period of adjustment. How can you speed this process so you don’t have to worry about dentures slipping at inopportune moments or irritating the soft tissues of your mouth? Here are a few tips to help you get through this period of adjustment faster and get on with your life.
Expect Discomfort Early On
As a general rule of thumb, dental professionals are likely to tell you that adjusting to new dentures takes about 30 days, on average. You might not be keen to wait this long, but you need to be careful how quickly you try to get back to normal.
The reason is that your gums and other soft tissues have to get used to being in contact with the base of your artificial teeth. Although the denture fixative you use to keep your dentures in place will provide some cushion, you’re going to experience some discomfort as you adapt to this new equipment, and aggressive chewing is sure to chafe and cause further pain and irritation.
You’re likely to need some adjustments to your dentures over time as gums heal and your jaw bone settles without teeth to support. Your dentist will make adjustments as needed to ensure the greatest level of comfort and function throughout the process.
Start with Soft Foods
There is a period of experimentation when it comes to adjusting to new dentures, and you may want to do this on your own, at home, until you feel comfortable eating and drinking in public. In addition to learning how to speak around your dentures, you’ll have to learn to chew without popping your dentures out of place, biting your tongue, scraping your gums, or otherwise harming yourself.
Starting with soft foods like mashed potatoes, pudding, and so on can give you a chance to get used to moving your mouth with your new teeth in. Soft foods won’t put the same pressure on gums that are healing and adjusting to dentures, so you should be able to limit discomfort.
Take Small Bites
When you’re ready to move on to tougher foods, the best course of action is to cut them into small, bite-size pieces that you can easily chew with your back teeth. When you chew, your jaw goes up and down, but also side to side. You need to become accustomed to the motions and adjust the amount of pressure you use to chew until you’re confident in your bite and you’re able to consistently chew without dislodging your dentures.
Don’t Bite with Front Teeth
Biting even semi-soft foods with your front teeth could cause your dentures to come unstuck in the back, so it’s really better to avoid this altogether by either cutting food into bite-size pieces or biting down only with side or back teeth.
Avoid Certain Foods Entirely
When you had braces in your youth, you were probably denied sticky caramels, hard candies, and snacks like popcorn that could pop off a bracket. Unfortunately, the same hard or sticky substances that were a no-no for braces are also more or less verboten when you have dentures.
Biting down on these foods can not only cause your dentures to come loose as you chew, but hard foods can also damage false teeth, causing unsightly chips and cracks. If you have a bad habit of crunching ice, munching hard or sticky candy, or chewing on pen caps, now is the time to kick it.