Complete dentures are less than perfect replacements for natural teeth. However, they have proven to be effective for countless individuals and can be comfortable to wear if a person has reasonable expectations and recognizes that there definitely will be an adaptation period.
It is important to understand that "showing off" with new complete dentures often ends in an unpleasant and embarrassing experience. One must first practice with their new prosthesis and learn what limitations and compensations need to be considered.
The old adage of "learn to walk before you run" certainly applies to the successful, secure and comfortable wearing of complete dentures.
This is not an exhaustive review of new complete dentures learning considerations. However, these are common areas of concern. If a person has a unique question or problem, they should always contact their dentist or prosthodontist for advice and direction.
When new complete dentures are first placed in the mouth, they frequently feel fuller, and it may not seem like there is enough room for the tongue. When a person has been without teeth for a period of time, the inside of the cheeks and tongue can become slightly thicker or feel fuller. When new complete dentures are first inserted, this slight fullness may feel enormous. It actually is not, and the full feeling will usually go away very shortly if an individual does not dwell on the sensation.
Previously unsupported sunken facial structures and muscles usually will be supported with new complete dentures to a normal position. These facial tissues adapt rapidly to their regained normal positioning and will feel less strained and more flexible. A more youthful appearance results in many cases.
When a person is used to producing speech sounds without teeth or with old complete dentures that no longer preserves proper jaw relationships, they generally have adapted their speech in such a way as to accommodate these abnormal conditions. However, when correct jaw relationships and contours are established again with new complete dentures, there may be some difficulty producing certain speech sounds clearly, and teeth might even click together in some instances. This is temporary.
If an individual makes an effort to speak slowly and clearly, pronouncing words very precisely, the tongue and other muscles will adapt quickly to produce clear speech. It is often useful to read a book or newspaper out loud, carefully pronouncing each word precisely.
These may develop as new complete dentures settle in. This may require some adjustment to the body of the complete dentures, and, more often, careful adjustment of the bite resolves these types of problems.
At times, the jaws may feel tired and soreness can develop. Taking complete dentures out to rest the mouth for a time frequently helps resolve these problems.
Chewing patterns will need to be developed over several weeks, starting by chewing with small pieces of soft food and gradually increasing the firmness over several weeks. Generally, food should be chewed on both sides of the mouth at the same time.
Front teeth are considered primarily for esthetics and speech and to a lesser degree for function. Food is not bitten off with the front teeth efficiently; rather, the bolus of food should be held by the complete dentures, near the corners of the mouth, and torn off by rotating the hand holding food in a downward motion. This will increase chewing efficiency and reduce irregular denture rocking.
A complete dentures patient needs to take control and keep a positive attitude for optimal results.
by Joseph J. Massad, D.D.S.