Tips for Living with Dentures
by sasha der avanessian
So, you have a new set of dentures and are preparing for years of continued use. You have never worn dentures before, but you’re encouraged by the way they improve your smile and the overall structure of your face, and you can’t wait to try them out in your everyday life.
To make sure you get the most of out your new smile, we have compiled a guide with top tips for living with dentures. Keep all of these in mind and you’ll be able to live freely and openly with your new teeth.
Wear Your New Dentures for 24 Hours
Your mouth changes shape when you wear dentures. Many of these changes are for the best, but if you’ve grown accustomed to living without teeth or with very few teeth, it’ll feel strange to have a full set of dentures in your mouth. The good news is that this discomfort won’t last, and your dentures should feel natural before long.
One of the ways that you can hasten this process is to wear them for the first twenty-four hours. It’s vitally important that you remove your dentures every night and give them a good soak, and we’ll talk about that later in this guide, but for that first day, it’s more important that they feel natural.
Wear them throughout the day—when you eat, when you drink, and even when you sleep. When those 24 hours have passed, you should feel more comfortable and wearing dentures will begin to feel like second-nature. The next night, you can remove them and create a habit that will stick with you for many years to come and ensure your dentures last just as long.
Check for Bruxism
Nighttime teeth grinding, known as bruxism, will wear your teeth down and may also chip them. It’s a relatively common condition that affects between 8% and 31% of the population of the United States. It’s something that sufferers aren’t always aware of and it is often brought to their attention by their partner. Sometimes, the bruxism sufferer wakes in the middle of the night and catches themselves in the act, hearing the loud crunch of grinding teeth and feeling their own teeth crack and chip.
Bruxism is generally not something that you have to worry about if you wear dentures. After all, you take your dentures out before you sleep, and bruxism only occurs during the night. However, it can become a problem if you wear your dentures for 24-hours, as advised above, and it will also cause problems if you ever decide to leave them in overnight because you’re too tired to remove them and clean them.
Maybe you’re sleeping with someone new and you don’t want them to know that you wear dentures. Maybe you’re just napping on the couch. Maybe you’re away from home and you don’t have access to your XODENT cleaning kit. In any case, while spending one night wearing your dentures is usually not a problem, it becomes a massive issue for someone who suffers from bruxism.
Speak with your dentist about this issue and take extra care if they discover that you have bruxism.
Keep them Clean and Properly Maintained
With the exception of the first 24-hours, your dentures need to be removed every night and soaked in warm water and a denture tablet. The XODENT kit provides all that you need to clean your dentures and contains enough for two people. One kit will last for many weeks and you can simply top-up with denture tablets thereafter.
Every time you eat, you should rinse your dentures under the faucet, otherwise, little bits of food will remain lodged in the mechanisms and could fester, harden, and become more of a problem in the long term.
Remember to Rinse and Brush Your Mouth
It’s not just your dentures that need to be rinsed and cleaned, your mouth and gums need to be given the same treatment, as well. Every time you eat, rinse your mouth with water. When you remove your dentures on a nighttime, rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash. You should also use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush your gums. Not only will it help to remove the bacteria, but it will also stimulate blood flow, keeping your gums healthy.
Stick with Soft Foods to Begin with
Many denture wearers are worried that they’ll need to make significant changes to their diet to accommodate their new dentures, but there’s a good chance they were already adapting their diet.
After all, if your teeth are rotted and you only have a few remaining, you may have been chewing on one side and avoiding foods that are too hard, crunchy, and chewy. In that case, dentures will give you more freedom, although you still need to rein it in a little.
To begin with, stick with soft foods until you get used to your dentures and then start incorporating different foods into your diet.
Try some slow-roasted tender cuts of meat. Eat a sandwich. And once you get used to chewing and swallowing, you can shift to harder and crisper foods. You should still refrain from eating anything like nuts, seeds, hard candies, and tough steak. They could chip your teeth and the little bits will get stuck in the mechanisms. But that doesn’t mean that you need to give up on everything harder than a gummy!
Keep Some Dental Adhesive on Standby
You shouldn’t need to use adhesive on a properly-fitted set of dentures. They are designed to fit perfectly in your mouth and will be held in place by suction, with the dentures creating a vacuum that locks them in place until you need to remove them. However, you should still keep a little dental adhesive on standby just in case.
It might come in handy when your dentures are slipping because your mouth is dry or when you’re eating out at a restaurant and want some extra protection. You may also need to resort to dental adhesive when your gums begin to change shape and your dentures slip.
This is common and it happens with all denture wearers. In such cases, you should always book an appointment with your dentist and get those dentures re-fitted, but in the meantime, adhesive will keep them in place.
Don’t be Scared to Show Them Off
Your dentures are supposed to be shown off, not hidden, so get out there, smile wide and often, and show them off. If you transitioned to dentures because you only had a few teeth or no teeth at all, you may have consciously hidden your smile. When you eventually get those dentures fitted, you might adopt the same mannerisms. You might even be worried that people will notice they are fake.
Stop worrying, start smiling, and start getting your money’s worth from those dentures.
Chew with Both Sides of Your Mouth
Dentures aren’t as strong and durable as real teeth. With real teeth, you can chew on one side of your mouth for years and not notice any difference, but if you do the same with dentures, you may wear down that side and create an imbalance.
People have a tendency to chew more on one side than the other, and if you are used to having damaged or missing teeth, you may have spent years moving food to one side of your mouth. Try to be more self-aware, pay attention to where and how you’re chewing, and make a conscious effort to chew with both sides of your mouth.
Don’t Let Them Dry Out
Your teeth are constantly bathed in saliva, but the same can’t be said for your dentures. When you take them out, you’re removing all of that lubrication and there’s a chance they will dry out, in which case they could warp, crack, and chip.
You need to wear your dentures throughout the day and soak them in warm water during the night. That way, they’re in use for 16 hours and in water for the other 8, keeping them hydrated throughout and preventing them from drying out.
Practice Speaking with Your Dentures
First-time denture wearers often complain that they can’t speak as clearly or as easily as they once did. They might develop a lisp and struggle to pronounce their words clearly. The bad news is that these issues are common and if you’re going from no teeth to a full set of dentures, you will almost certainly experience them to an extent. The good news is that it’s usually a temporary issue and one that will resolve quite quickly.
You just need to get used to speaking with your new dentures. If you’re worried about how others will perceive you and feel embarrassed about your newfound speech impediment, you can just practice talking about in front of a mirror. Alternatively, if you find that a little too strange and uncomfortable for your liking, simply read alone.
Whether you’re reading shampoo bottles in the bath, newspapers while relaxing in your yard, or a book in bed, every time you read aloud, you’re putting your dentures to use and getting accustomed to them. As weird as it will feel initially, you’ll eventually get used to it. Your mouth will learn how to form those words while holding onto those dentures and within a day or two, they’ll feel just as natural as a mouth full of real teeth.
Be Generous with Flavorings
You may struggle to detect the same flavors as a denture wearer, making some foods taste a little less potent than they once did. As with everything else, it’s something that you will become accustomed to in time, but to begin with, you should be liberal with your use of flavorings, adding copious amounts of herbs and spices to your food.
Eat Mints and Chew Gum
Sugar-free mints and chewing gum will keep your breath fresh and your mouth hydrated. Saliva is essential for your oral health and it also helps to keep your dentures in place. Many seniors suffer from dry mouth and this causes their dentures to move around and their gums to become irritated and inflamed. Chewing gum can help with this, but the trick is to find a gum that doesn’t stick.
Sticky chewing gum is not an issue if you have real teeth and it’s something that you don’t really think about. But it’s a little different with dentures. Dentures aren’t coated with saliva in the same way and this makes it easy for the gum to stick, turning a harmless and healthy chewing gum into something that sticks and clings like caramel.
To combat this, you’ll need to find a gum that doesn’t stick. Freedent is often recommended for this exact reason and has been popular with denture-wearers for many years. You have a few different flavors to choose from and all of them will keep your breath fresh, your mouth hydrated, and your dentures clean.
Gum isn’t the only way to keep your saliva flowing. You should also drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and eat a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables, ensuring you get all of the liquid and nutrients that your body needs. If you have dry mouth resulting from medications like opioids, then this won’t be enough to fix the issue, but it will certainly make life easier for you.
The exact amount of water that your body needs will depend on everything from your diet to your location and lifestyle. It’s often said that you need to drink at least 8x 8oz glasses a day, and while this may not be enough for some people, it’s certainly a good place to start.
Create a Travel Kit
To make sure you’re not caught short without your XODENT tablets and denture bath, you should create a travel kit to grab and go whenever you leave the house. The standard XODENT kit comes with two wash baths, 2 strainers, and 2 brushes. It is designed to be used by yourself and your partner, but if you live alone or you’re the only one with dentures, you can use the spare accessories to create a travel pack.
Just add them to a little carrying case, throw some XODENT tablets in there, and keep it on standby for whenever you visit a friend’s house or hotel.
Brush Your Tongue
If you’re brushing, rinsing, and soaking, and yet you still have bad breath and a nasty taste in your mouth, the problem could be your tongue. Bacteria can rest on every part of your mouth and if it’s not cleaned and removed, it will grow and get worse.
You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a specially-made tongue scraper. Many toothbrushes also come with silicon-ribbed backs that are perfect for scrubbing the bacteria from your tongue.
Remember to take things lightly and to thoroughly rinse your mouth when you’re done. If water is tinged brown, it could indicate that there was a lot of bacteria on your tongue.
Keep Your Dental Appointments
Your gums will change shape and may become irritated and sore. When this happens, it’s normal for your dentures to dislodge and move around and become uncomfortable. To remedy this issue, you need to make and keep regular appointments with your dentist. This is true even if your dentures feel fine, as it’s their job to keep it that way.
Your dentist can anticipate, spot, and fix any issues that arise, and these fixes are usually cheaper, quicker, and easier than you might expect. If you want your dentures to last for many years, you’ll need to see your dentist at least a couple of times a year.
Getting a set of dentures is not an excuse to start avoiding the dentist.
Summary: Tips for Living with Dentures
As you can see, there are a lot of tips here and a few ways that things can turn ugly when you’re living with dentures. But you don’t need a long checklist to live your life by. These tips are designed to make things easier for you, but that doesn’t mean that you need to stick to a rigid schedule when you first get fitted for a set of dentures.
Just make sure you clean them and avoid doing anything that could chip, crack, or break them. Beyond that, a lot of denture maintenance comes down to common sense and doing what feels comfortable—it’s something that you’ll figure out in time.
If you need more advice for living with dentures, take a look at our guide on 12 Fixes for Common Denture Problems, where we discuss some of the major issues that denture wearers face every day and the ways that you can remedy them. If you have purchased one of our XODENT kits for yourself and don’t have anyone to share it with, you’ll have a lot of denture cleaning tablets at your disposal, in which case you should check with this guide on Other Uses for Denture Tablets, including tips on removing stains on your skin, coffee table, and cups.