Adjusting to dentures typically takes a month or so, but you’ll see progress every week. The first week is often the most challenging, and may find you wondering whether getting dentures was really a good idea after all.
It was. Your life with dentures will almost certainly be better than living with decayed, loose or missing teeth. Just be patient with yourself during the adjustment period, and know that it does get better -fast. You’ll be feeling great and showing off your beautiful new smile very soon.
The First Week With Dentures
Your experience with dentures during the first week of wearing them may be upsetting. You will probably be focused on what feels like an amazingly huge hunk of plastic in your mouth. You may feel nauseous, and you may gag. The queasy stomach and gagging almost always passes within 3-5 days.
Generally, this is caused by a combination of the numbing medication your dentist used during the process of installing your dentures and the dentures triggering your gag reflex. The effect of the medication wears off quickly, and your body learns that the dentures are not trying to choke you so your gag reflex subsides.
If you’re still having issues five days after getting your dentures, or if you are so uncomfortable that you need immediate relief, go back to your dentist and have the dentures adjusted – they may need to be thinned or shortened in order to stop triggering your gag reflex.
Other issues may include sore spots or irritation on your gums. It can be hard to decide whether to go back to your dentist with problems such as these, or whether to tough it out for a week or so until your gums heal. If in doubt, call your dentist. You shouldn’t be in pain during the adjustment period, though you may feel some tenderness in your mouth.
Learning To Speak With Dentures
Right after you get your dentures you will probably be unable to pronounce certain letters without hissing or whistling. This can make you feel really self-conscious.
The best way to adjust to speaking with your new dentures is to read out loud to yourself. Recite the alphabet five times, four or five times a day. Supplement by reading the news, a book, web pages, your favorite poems, song lyrics or whatever you choose out loud. Learning to speak clearly again is just a matter of practice, and the more you read aloud the quicker you’ll relearn to pronounce words properly.
You may also notice that you are producing a lot of saliva, or have a very dry mouth, which can make it harder to speak normally. Changes in saliva flow is normal, and will often correct by itself in a few days. Your body may think your new dentures are food, and produce more saliva in response. There’s not much to be done about this, but your body will figure it out quickly. For dry mouth, sip water often, perhaps suck on sugar free mints. You can also ask your dentist about products that help with dry mouth.
Watch for cracking or irritation at the sides of your lips. This can come as a response to an overabundance of saliva, or it could indicate an oral infection.
Eating With New Dentures
You won’t have much chewing power for the first couple of weeks, so stick to soft foods. For the first few weeks, try to focus on chewing your food using both sides of your dentures, but don’t worry about this in the beginning – you’ll adjust to this fairly quickly without having to think about it too much.
Your dentures may come loose when you’re eating crunchy or chewy foods for the month or so, especially if you have become accustomed to chewing on one side of your mouth due to missing or loose teeth. After the first month, you’ll be able to eat many of your favorite foods again. When three or so months have passed, you’ll probably be confident about your ability to eat almost anything you want.
How To Clean Your Dentures
You may be nervous about removing your dentures to clean them the first couple of times. You might worry about being able to get them back into place again. Don’t worry. Dentures that fit properly are easily replaced in your mouth, they’ll fit easily in place. Your dentist may advise you to use a few dabs of dental adhesive to secure your dentures in place. You can try a few different kinds to discover which brand works best for you.
You may also be reluctant to remove your dentures because you do not want to see yourself in the mirror without teeth. This is normal, and something that will fade over time as you get compliments about your great smile. In the very beginning, you simply tough it out and do your oral hygiene routine to ensure your dentures stay clean and your mouth is healthy.
Standard toothpaste and toothbrushes are too abrasive for dentures. Use products that are made for denture care. If you have a partial, you’ll want to use your usual toothpaste and possibly toothbrush on your natural teeth. Or you may be able to use the same, soft brush for your dentures and natural teeth, depending on your preferences and your dentist’s advice.
Your dentist will probably advise you to remove your dentures at night, clean them and store them in water or a denture cleanser. You do want to keep them moist when they aren’t in your mouth or they may dry out, become brittle and very breakable.
Dentures are fragile. Take your time – especially in the beginning when you’re probably a bit nervous – when removing or cleaning them. You can put a towel or washcloth onto the counter or in the sink to protect your dentures if you do drop them. Or you can fill the sink with water before you clean your dentures, if you drop them the water will cushion the fall. Figure out what works for you.
If they do break, or if they feel too big or too small (dentures do need to be adjusted as time passes to fit correctly) – don’t try to fix them yourself. Head back to the dentist. While traditional insurance plans may place restrictions on how often you can get covered care for denture-related issues, dental savings plans have no such limitations. You can use a dental savings plan as often as you wish to ensure your dentures fit correctly now and into the future. Proper fit is the most important factor in having dentures that function much like your natural teeth.
Enjoy your new smile!