A denture is a removable prosthesis or appliance (complete or partial) made to replace natural teeth.
Dentures are naturally retained in the mouth due to a combination of factors. Learning to eat with artificial teeth requires considerable skill and practice. This is because every person's mouth has a different structure, which can affect the retention and stability of the denture. Also, the level of suction which helps hold the denture in place, particularly the upper denture, will vary according to the amount of saliva produced. Many denture wearers find the lower denture particularly difficult to manage at first. Experience will help as will the use of a carefully selected denture fixative which can help to keep the denture in place and stable.
However well-fitting the dentist has made the dentures, they can never provide the biting and chewing efficiency of natural teeth. Using a denture fixative will help to give confidence and dispel many fears about wearing dentures. Even well-fitting dentures can benefit and become more stable and secure. The ingredients work together to hold the denture in place and provide a strong and lasting hold that can help to reduce the wobble, so eating apples, crusty bread and other foods can be enjoyed again.
A fixative also acts as a supporting layer between dentures and gums. It helps reduce the effects of any pressure spots, helps prevent the dentures rubbing and makes them more comfortable. A fixative will make you more confident when meeting people and eating out.
Dirty dentures are unattractive and may smell or taste unpleasant; in addition, deposits on the dentures can be harmful to the health of gums and any remaining teeth. Deposits on dentures are the same as those that occur on natural teeth and include: food particles, stains, calculus (tartar) and bacterial deposits (plaque). Certain foods and drinks such as tea, coffee and red wine can cause staining, as can tobacco. A denture which has plaque and tartar present will stain more quickly than a denture which is kept clean.
It is a good idea to develop a regular routine for cleaning dentures. Cleaning them at the same time as any remaining natural teeth will make sure that it is done regularly. Whatever the type of denture, it is best to rinse it after every meal and remove any debris with a soft brush, a denture cleaner and warm water. Dentures should be cleaned over a basin half-filled with warm water to minimise the risk of damage if they are dropped.
Brushing is the most essential aspect of cleaning a denture. Soaking a denture in a cleansing solution alone is not enough. Use a brush (a large toothbrush is fine) to reach into all the crevices of the denture, especially the fitting surface (the part that contacts your gums) and, in the case of partial dentures, inside any metal parts such as clasps. Using a specialist denture cleansing paste is probably the most effective way of removing food debris and bacterial deposits (plaque) and preventing the build-up of stains or tartar.
Deposits of tartar (a bit like the ‘fur’ in a kettle) are less likely if your dentures are always kept clean. However, they can be a problem for some people. No commercially available denture cleanser is effective in removing such deposits and this needs to be done professionally by your dentist or in a dental laboratory, where your dentures can easily be descaled and re-polished.