If you lose a tooth, you can replace it with a "false" (or artificial) tooth. If you don't replace it, your other teeth may get out of line. You need to care for complete dentures and partial dentures as carefully as you would look after natural teeth.
Four Main Types of Dentures
1. A fixed bridge (or fixed partial denture).
One or more false teeth are held between healthy teeth on both sides. You cannot take this kind of bridge out by yourself.
2. A partial denture (or removable partial denture).
One or more false teeth are held in place by clasps that fit onto nearby healthy teeth. You can take the false teeth out yourself, for cleaning and at night.
3. Complete dentures.
If you lose your teeth, these dentures can replace all your natural teeth.
4. Dental implants.
Dental implants are used to support false teeth or a fixed bridge. You must have healthy gums and bone (under your teeth) to support the implant. Your dentist (or oral surgeon) will put a small metal post into your jawbone.
Over time, the post will bond with the bone around it. The post (or implant) will act like an anchor to hold one or more false teeth in place.
Looking After your Dentures
You need to care for complete and partial dentures as carefully as you would look after natural teeth.
- Clean them every day. Plaque and tartar can build up on false teeth, just like they do on natural teeth.
- Take them out every night. Brush your teeth and gums carefully, using a soft toothbrush. Be sure to clean and massage your gums. If your toothbrush hurts you, run it under warm water to make it softer OR try using a finger wrapped in a clean, damp cloth.
- Soak them overnight. They can be soaked in a special cleaner for false teeth (denture cleanser), in warm water or in a mix of warm water and vinegar (half and half). If your denture has metal clasps, use warm water only for soaking. Soaking will loosen plaque and tartar. They will then come off more easily when you brush.
Caring for Implants
Because the implant sticks to bone, it can be treated more like a natural tooth. But it is NOT as strong as a natural tooth. You must brush and floss the implant very carefully. Be gentle, but make sure you brush all sides of the implant. At least once a day, floss very carefully. You will need to be gentle with the floss where the implant meets the gum. After flossing, roll it up in a tiny ball and put it in the garbage. Never flush floss down the toilet.
If you have false teeth, see your dentist regularly. Your mouth is always changing. This means your false teeth will need to be adjusted from time to time to make sure you have a good fit.
If you have a bridge or implants, dental exams will help you make sure that your natural teeth get good care. If you have problems with your false teeth, your dentist may suggest you see a special dentist who knows more about false teeth. This kind of dentist is called a prosthodontist.
People who have complete or partial dentures can also get gum disease around any natural teeth that are left. If you have gum disease:
- Your false teeth will not fit well over gums that are sore, swollen or bleeding.
- Your partial dentures (or removable dentures) will not be held firmly in place if your natural teeth and gums are not strong.
Be sure to see your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and dental exams, so that he or she can detect any early signs of gum disease, and provide appropriate treatment.