Friday, October 6th, 2017
Losing your natural teeth can be a very traumatizing experience. Combine that with the fact that dentures can feel foreign and very uncomfortable initially, and the entire experience can bring a person to tears. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – there are some positive aspects to having to wear dentures:
There is a bit of a learning curve as you get used to your new dentures, but most people find that after only a few weeks, they don’t even notice the difference. Below are some tips to help you get used to the feel of your new teeth.
The first time you wear your new dentures, you may experience several different things – fullness in your mouth, changes to the shape of your face, mouth and lips, and increased salivation. Don’t worry – these are all normal things and nothing to worry about. With time, you will become less and less aware of the dentures, and they will begin to feel like just a regular part of your life.
The most important thing to remember when getting used to your dentures, is that patience is a virtue. You should expect to need a week or two to get used to all the new sensations, and try not to become frustrated. Each day that you wear them, the feeling will improve. If you try to rush yourself in speaking and chewing, you will only become more stressed, and end up prolonging the initial issues rather than speed up the process of getting used to them.
You’ll need to re-learn how to eat and talk once you have your new dentures. Practicing is an important part of easing the transition and figuring out your ‘new normal’.
Because your new dentures will change the shape of your mouth, you are likely to experience a few problems pronouncing certain letters. Most patients report that the letter “S” is the trickiest. You may lisp at first, but as you practice, your cheeks, tongue and lips will get used to the dentures and sooner than you know it, you’ll be back to speaking clearly without a lisp or any other speech issues. Try reading out loud to yourself for a few minutes at a time, allowing your mouth to slowly sound out each work and letter. Some people also say that doing this in front of a mirror is helpful.
The first few times you eat and drink with your new dentures can be quite a challenge. It is best to start out slowly. Practice drinking water and pay attention to any changes in how it feels to drink liquids, and adjust how you swallow to ensure you are comfortable.
You should always start by eating soft foods when you are eating with your new dentures for the first time. Each time you eat something different will be a learning curve. To avoid choking or uncomfortable sensations, try first with a soft food like pudding or yogurt. Then slowly add in foods with more substance, perhaps mashed potatoes, soft vegetables etc. As you master each type of food you will gain confidence and learn your ‘new’ way to eat with your dentures. Eventually you’ll progress to harder and more chewy foods like meat and fruit. Fruit can be a bit of a challenge for some people because biting directly into something with the front teeth can be difficult even with natural teeth. Start small, taking little bites with your front teeth, then chewing them thoroughly with the side and back teeth.
It is very important that you chew your food using all of your new teeth – this means front, side and back teeth. Try not to favor eating on one side only as this can cause undue wear and tear on your new dentures and on your gums. Spreading out the pressure of chewing to all teeth will help keep you comfortable and prevent sore gums.
After a few weeks of practice, you’ll be eating like a pro again and you should be able to comfortably eat anything in your regular diet that you’re used to having. Again, practice and take it slowly!
It is normal to experience a bit of pain and swelling as your gums get used to your new dentures. Again, taking things slowly, practicing, and not over doing it is key to minimizing these symptoms. You can take OTC pain medications to help ease the process, and by all means, give your gums a rest by removing your dentures for a few hours when possible.
If you experience severe pain or sore spots, it’s important to contact your dentist right away. Your new dentures may need additional adjustments to ensure a perfect fit to your gums and mouth.
While one of the benefits of having dentures is less visits to the dentist for things like cavities and cleanings, you’ll still need to practice good dental hygiene – both inside your mouth, and when you have removed your dentures for cleaning.
Your dentures can develop stains due to darker colored foods and drinks, and it is also possible that bits and pieces of food may be left behind on your dentures after eating. It’s important to clean your dentures at least once every day. This will prevent bacteria and bad breath, and also keep your new teeth looking shiny and white.
Once you’ve cleaned your dentures, store them in a glass of water or other solution as recommended by your dentist. This will help prevent them from drying out and changing shape. And always handle with care – dentures are fragile if dropped, so be careful to always handle them in an environment where if they are dropped, they will land on a soft surface such as a towel.
Getting dentures can be a challenging experience, but there are also benefits to having them. Even those who practice the very best dental hygiene may one day need dentures, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. If you practice wearing them, and take good care of them, it can be your little secret and nobody even has to know!