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What to expect with your first set of dentures

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Learn what to anticipate during the dentures process — from diagnosis to aftercare

If your dentist has recommended dentures, don’t worry, you’re not alone. More and more people are wearing dentures comfortably and showing off a great smile. In fact, according to Simmons National Consumer Survey and U.S. Census data approximately 41 million Americans turned to dentures in 2020. 

But if you’re wondering whether dentures will be cumbersome or clunky, you should know that design and comfort have come a long way; dentures are a solution that can make a real difference. Dentures today look and feel more natural, so getting dentures for the first time doesn’t have to be an imposition in your daily life.

And the dentures process doesn’t have to be complicated. This dentures guide will walk you through the stages of getting dentures, including questions to ask your dentist, fitting and adjusting, potential costs, and caring for your first set of dentures.

Your dental visit

As you get older, you’ll start to see differences in your teeth. Your dentist may recommend dentures as a solution for root decay, gum disease, or loss of a tooth or many teeth. Before you commit to dentures, write down the questions you have so you can review them with your dental professional. Some question examples are:

  • What types of dentures are there? How will I know which kind I need?
  • What will dentures feel like? Will they hurt?
  • Will I be able to eat the same foods? Are there any foods I should avoid?
  • Will my speech sound different?
  • How much do they cost?

These are all reasonable questions to ask your dentist so don’t be shy. Conferring with your dentist to learn new information will make you feel at ease and help you make the right decisions about your first pair of dentures.

Fitting and adjusting

At the first appointment in your treatment plan, your dentist will make an impression of your gums and examine your bone structure to identify the right type of dentures for you. Sometimes remaining teeth may need to be extracted or oral surgery is needed to correct ridges that may affect how well your dentures will fit. If your teeth are removed, an immediate denture may be placed to help healing and temporarily replace your missing teeth. It is usually adjusted over time to accommodate changes in ridge contours while you’re healing. Your final dentures will be made when your gums are healthy and fully healed.

Sometimes your gums and facial bones change, so it’s not uncommon to need to see your dentist for follow-up fittings. Dentures should fit perfectly, so if you start to feel any looseness, make an appointment right away. Don’t try to fix them yourself; always let your dentist make adjustments. In the interim, try a denture adhesive to keep them stable.

Potential costs

Partials and full dentures can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and many factors can influence how much you’ll pay for your dentures. For example, materials like highly cross-linked polymer are more expensive than conventional plastic teeth. Where your dentist is located, the number of follow-up visits, and any additional procedures to complete the process will also affect the price.

Health insurance, Medicare, and Medicare Supplement insurance don’t cover most dental procedures or equipment, including dentures. Some dental insurance plans cover a percentage of dentures or teeth extraction, so check with your provider to see what your dental policy will cover. You’ll also want to check if your dentures are under warranty, which can run from one to two years or up to 10 years.

Caring for your first set of dentures

Learning how to eat with dentures is key to properly care for your new teeth. You’ll need to have a renewed awareness of what you’re putting in your mouth. For example, you won’t be able to detect hot foods or drinks or notice bones in your food right away, which can be dangerous. Start with soft foods and cut your food into small pieces. Chew slowly on both sides of your mouth, never use toothpicks, and try to avoid foods that can cause stains.

To prolong the life of your dentures, adopt a regular cleaning regimen. Always take your dentures out at night and use a special denture care product to clean them daily. You can scrub them with soap and warm water, but do not clean them with toothpaste. Most types of dentures need to stay moist to keep their shape so place your dentures in water or a mild denture-soaking solution when you go to bed.

Always handle your dentures carefully, especially during cleaning. You can put a towel on the counter or in the sink, so the dentures won’t break if you accidentally drop them. Be careful with delicate parts so you don’t bend or damage any pieces.

Even if your dentures seem fine and you’re not having any problems, you should still schedule regular annual visits with your dentist. This allows your dentist to check how your dentures are fitting and give them a routine cleaning.

Photo credit: iStock

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