Dentures allow many individuals to speak, eat, and smile normally. Dental experts estimate that more than 20 million Americans wear dentures. If you have dentures, you know you must care for them properly to ensure they last as long as possible.
But how do you know when your dentures need an adjustment or repair? Talk to your dentist or denturist if you notice any of the 10 following signs.
1. Broken Teeth
If you drop your dentures, step on them, or put too much pressure on them, you may break a tooth. Do not attempt to reattach the tooth yourself, either with a household adhesive or an over-the-counter repair kit. At-home attachment may result in an irregular fit and problems in the future.
2. Chips or Cracks
Not every accident claims an entire tooth-you may notice chips, pitting, or cracks instead. These may not threaten your denture’s function, but they do create sharp, uneven surfaces that irritate or cut oral soft tissues. Have your denturist fill in these defects so they don’t become bigger over time.
3. Difficulty Chewing
One of the primary goals of artificial teeth is to restore normal eating habits. When you first got your dentures, you may have needed time to adjust. But if you notice increased difficulty chewing later on, it may indicate a need to refit your dentures to the exact shape of your gums.
While your dentures may never feel as comfortable as your natural teeth, they shouldn’t cause any discomfort. If you notice jaw soreness, uneven pressure, or other discomfort, talk to your dentist or denturist. If you experience sharp or intense pain on or near your canine teeth, especially when you bite down, this may indicate bone reabsorption. Address this issue with your oral health advisor as soon as possible.
5. Facial Shape Changes
Your teeth play a large role in keeping your cheeks looking full and even. Dentures perform this task just as effectively as natural teeth. So if you notice changes to your cheeks’ or jawline’s appearance, your dentures likely need adjustment.
6. Fit Changes
Your top dentures should suction smoothly to your gums. Your bottom dentures float above your gums, but they should stay in your mouth easily. And partial dentures should stay in line with your natural teeth without significant movement.
If your dentures don’t fit as they should, or the fit changes suddenly, they likely need a slight adjustment to alleviate the pain or discomfort. Getting the correct fit is the key to eliminating the painful pressure sores as well. Do not bend your dentures in an attempt to change the fit-this may crack them.
7. Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are caused from ill-fitting dentures. Pressure sores can develop if your dentures are not well fitted for your mouth. Pressure sores will develop in places on your gums where the dentures put more pressure on certain areas of your gums. Pressure from the dentures should be distributed evenly across your gums. If a pressure sore does develop, it is a good indicator as to where your dentures need to be adjusted.
8. Gum Irritation
When you first get dentures, they can feel foreign. But once you acclimate, they should not cause gum irritation. Watch for any raw spots, inflammation, or bleeding. These symptoms may indicate a defect in the denture’s surface. You can combat these symptoms by maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing your gums and palate with a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day.
9. Oral Sores
While dentures do not cause oral sores, they can exacerbate some oral conditions. Canker sores and raw patches of tissue may stem from fissures in your dentures’ surface. You may develop oral infections like candidiasis (or thrush) while using dentures.
Thrush typically manifests as white patches on the gums and tongue. When you wear dentures, thrush can erode gum tissue and become extremely painful.
Talk to your dentist if you notice any sores, soft tissue irritation, or discoloration. He or she may recommend changing your oral hygiene or denture care routines after performing any needed adjustments or repairs.
10. Speech Pattern Changes
Like chewing, talking relies on your teeth. When you first wear dentures, you may experience slurred speech, lisping, or excessive salivation. These speech issues should disappear as you become used to the dentures.
However, if they return or you experience any other speech pattern changes, you may need an adjustment. Ill-fitting dentures can move when you speak, making it difficult to say certain words. Usually your denturist can solve the problem by reshaping or relining your dentures.
11. Stains or Persistent Odors
Care for your dentures according to the manufacturer’s and your dentist’s recommendations. Usually this care includes daily brushing and regular rinsing (sometimes with a specialized cleaning solution, though clean water often suffices). When you clean your dentures, take the time to inspect them for any of the structural problems listed above.
Also look for any staining. Your denturist can counteract most types of discoloration. Schedule an appointment with your dentist or denturist if you notice odors that linger even after a thorough cleaning-this may indicate a defect in the material.
Keep your dentures clean and store them in a safe place when not using them. Schedule checkups every six months or as recommended by dentist or denturist. For more information about prolonging the life of your artificial teeth, talk to your dental specialist.
To learn more about oral health (and how you can protect yours), read our other blog posts.