Life with Dentures
Each person will have a unique experience wearing dentures. Dentures are a prosthesis designed to replace your missing teeth. Just like any prosthesis, there will be limitations and a learning curve. At first you will need to concentrate wearing your dentures and then your dentures will become second nature. Don’t become discouraged. Your friends and relatives may tell you how “easy” their experience was adjusting to dentures. Each day will get better. Remember that we are here to help.
When learning to eat with your denture, start with soft food like mashed potatoes, soups, pudding, yogurt, and scrambled eggs. Move on to soft textured foods like steamed vegetables, stew, or pasta. You may wish to over-steam to soften your food at first. To control your denture while eating, cut your food in small portions, and place food to chew on both sides of the mouth at the same time.
If your speech seems slurred at first, a little practice will correct this. Practice reading out loud while wearing your dentures. The more you speak, the sooner your brain, mouth, and tongue will adapt.
Most people readily adapt to the upper denture because it is retained by suction. It will take more time and practice to adapt to the lower denture. Your tongue may feel restricted and confined at first but will soon become accustomed to having the denture in place.
If you develop sore spots as you wear your denture, you will need to have it adjusted. Denture sore spots will not get better with time. They are an indication that the denture needs to be adjusted. If you need an adjustment, please call for an appointment so we
can address the issue as soon as possible.
Just as we clean our teeth after meals, dentures also need to be cleaned a few times a day. After meals, you may need to rinse, or use a denture brush and warm soapy water. Never use water hot to the touch, or bleach. Only use denture paste recommended for dentures (toothpaste will scuff the denture finish). Your dentures should be soaked in water or an approved cleaning solution overnight. Your gums need time without a denture in place to maintain good gum health. If you do not clean your dentures daily, the denture may develop an odor from bacterial build-up.
If your denture should need a thorough cleaning, you can call our office for a denture cleaning appointment. Our ultrasonic shaker can help remove coffee or tobacco discoloration from dentures.
Even after your first year wearing dentures, your bone ridges will continue to recontour. This happens more rapidly in the first year, but some change will occur over the years to come. You may occasionally need to have your dentures adjusted. You can call our office for an appointment.
You may be a candidate for dental implants even if you did not have them placed with your initial dentures. Implants allow you to click the dentures into place providing better stability and chewing capability. Many people find this especially helpful to stabilize a lower denture. If you are interested in dental implants to stabilize your denture, call for an evaluation appointment, using 3-D CT imaging, at no cost to you.
Immediate Denture Post-Op Instructions (24 Hrs)
Be sure to take your antibiotic and pain medications as prescribed by your dentist.
Eat something soft (scrambled eggs, protein shake, mashed potatoes, etc.) on your first night. You will need to have something in your stomach to help prevent nausea from your medications.
DO NOT remove your dentures for 24 hours or until your post-op appointment scheduled for the next business day. [If your surgery is on a Friday, you will remove your dentures after 24 hours and rinse lightly with warm salt water or Crest ProHealth mouthwash. (See Rinsing Directions in handout titled Your First Few Days with an Immediate Denture.) Wear your dentures for the rest of the weekend, except for rinsing, until your post-op appointment on Monday.]
Extra gauze will be sent home with you after your surgery appointment. Do not remove your dentures to replace the gauze. Dampen the gauze and bite gently but firmly on the gauze with your dentures in place. Firm biting pressure along with ice compresses reduces bleeding. The more you move around (talking, chewing, walking, etc.), the more you will tend to bleed. You can also bite down on wet tea bags (e.g. Lipton tea bags). The tannins in tea help to reduce bleeding. If you are bleeding profusely, please call our office. Bleeding usually subsides within the first few hours after tooth extraction, but it is not unusual for patients to bleed during the night. For the first night, try to sleep in a comfortable recliner chair, or elevated with a few pillows. Sleep in an old t-shirt with a towel over your pillow. In case of complications causing a medical emergency please go to an emergency room.
Most swelling occurs during the first 72 hours after surgery. Try to keep your dentures in as much as possible during this time. If your dentures are in place, it will allow your gums to conform and adapt to the shape of the dentures. If the dentures are not kept in place, you could potentially swell to the point where you will be unable to replace your dentures for a few weeks.
Ice packs help prevent swelling, bleeding, and bruising.
NEVER USE HEAT.
Heat has the opposite effect of ice and will cause more swelling, bleeding, and bruising.
NO SMOKING. Nicotine restricts blood flow and will inhibit proper healing.
NO ALCOHOL. Alcohol will thin your blood and prevent proper clotting.
You will need someone to drive you home. Be sure to have help stay with you at your home for the first night after surgery. You will return to the office the business day after your surgery for a post-operative checkup. At this appointment, we will check your extraction sites, adjust the denture if needed, and review healing and cleaning instructions. Please bring your Sock-It gel tube with you.
Your First Few Days with an Immediate Denture
In the beginning, you will be eating soft foods, such as eggs, fish, yogurts, tofu, or protein shakes. These are good options until you are able to eat a larger variety of foods. A high protein diet and drinking plenty of water will promote tissue healing.
Rinse daily, starting the day after surgery and continuing for two to three weeks, until tissue has healed over the extract sites. Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt-water using 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup (8 oz.) water three to four times per day. Place a thin layer of Sock-It gel before replacing your denture.
Try to keep your dentures in as much as possible for the first 72 hours. If your dentures are in place, it will allow your gums to conform and adapt to the shape of the dentures. If the dentures are not in place, you could potentially swell to the point where you will be unable to replace your dentures for a few weeks. Ice packs can help to reduce swelling in the first days after surgery.
Extraction sites may cause some discomfort in the days after surgery. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an option for pain relief and Naproxen (Aleve) for pain and inflammation. Should you find that pain is increasing in the days after surgery, rather than decreasing, you should call for an additional post-op appointment.
Swelling may cause sore spots in your mouth. If you feel a sore spot, rather than a generalized but easing discomfort, we can relieve this area in your denture. Blood clotting is an important part of healing. If a blood clot does not form, or is dislodged prematurely, the surgical site can be exposed to bacteria and potential infection, and may cause a condition called dry-socket. Dry socket can be caused by smoking, vaping, alcohol, trauma from brushing or coarse food, forceful swishing, sucking with a straw, heavy lifting, or strenuous activity within ten days of surgery.
Cleaning your denture is easy. Place a hand towel in the sink basin to cushion in case a denture is dropped while being cleaned. Using a denture brush, rinse your denture under water, and scrub all surfaces lightly using antibacterial soap (for example: Dial or Dawn Dishwashing Liquid) morning and evening to clean your denture. Never use toothpaste, it is abrasive and may cause small cuts in your dentures where bacteria can grow. From three days after surgery, always take your denture out when you sleep. Your gingiva (gums) need fresh air in order to stay healthy. Soak your dentures overnight in a basin of clean water. Never store your dentures dry. It is a good idea to rinse your dentures with water after each meal.
Denture Adjustments and Liners
When teeth are extracted, whether one or ten, as the extraction site heals, tissue and bone change shape. This process can take nine months to a year.
In the first few weeks you may experience discomfort associated with bone spurs. Bone spurs are tiny fragments of bone between each tooth, supporting and holding the tooth in position. When a tooth is extracted, this fragment of bone sometimes breaks below the gum. If this happens, it may simply work its way out on its own, but it may need to be removed by the doctor. Please give us a call if you are experiencing discomfort after your extraction.
During the healing process your gingiva and jawbone will go through changes in shape and size. You will find your denture becoming loose. In order to adapt your denture fit we will place periodic soft linings in your immediate denture. The soft lining is a temporary cushioning material poured into your denture that forms to your tissue.
Your first soft lining will be placed two weeks after surgery. This process will be repeated every few months as your mouth heals during the first year. The purpose of the soft liners is to adjust the denture fit during healing. Four soft linings are included with the purchase of your immediate denture. At times it may be necessary to use denture adhesive between soft lining placements.
Do not clean your dentures with denture cleanser tablets until the permanent lining is placed in your denture. Avoid vigorous scrubbing of the temporary soft lining material.
After your mouth has healed, your denture will be assessed and given a permanent lining. The process of placing a permanent lining takes a full day. Impressions will be taken in the morning. You can return for your denture in the afternoon.
You may need some adjustments between soft lining placement appointments while you are healing, and even after healing is complete. This is common and expected. Our staff will do everything they can to help you along the way. Just call for an appointment if you feel that your denture may need to be adjusted.
Surgical Instructions - Stopping Blood Thinners
Be sure you take all medications as prescribed by your physicians, unless specifically discussed with your dentist, and changes approved by the doctor who prescribed that medication.
We use local anesthesia at our office. We therefore recommend that you not fast before your appointment, but rather eat your regular meals and drink plenty of water as this will help to keep you comfortable and reduce nausea sometimes associated with local anesthesia and antibiotics.
If you take anticoagulants or “blood thinner” medications, be sure to discuss this with your dentist before surgery. Blood thinners might be discontinued a few days before tooth extraction or implant placement. You should consult with your physician before pausing physician recommended treatment.
If you should need a pain reliever during the three days before the surgical procedure, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used. You should avoid the use of Aspirin related products for three days prior to the procedure. Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatories are also not to be taken at this time.
Other herbs or supplements with blood thinning side effects are also not to
be consumed in the three days prior to surgical dental procedures. This would include supplements such as the following:
Our goal is to provide a comfortable environment for you, our patient. Speaking with you about the surgery process and expectations helps us to provide you with the best patient care. Always feel free to ask questions!
Surgical Instructions - After Tooth Extractions
Recovery after dental surgery is eased by rest, food and water consumption, medication, and good oral hygiene.
Shortly after dental surgery the anesthetic will begin to wear off. Before this happens, it is important to take oral pain medications. Timely pain control will help you to rest. To help minimize swelling keep your head elevated and lower your activity level. Using ice packs as often as comfortably possible during the first days after surgery can minimize facial swelling.
We recommend that you not fast after dental surgery. Pain medications and antibiotics can upset an empty stomach. You may wish to eat soft foods at first. High protein foods are beneficial to healing. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
For surgical sites to heal properly, oral hygiene should not be neglected. Brush your teeth as normal, but avoid tooth extraction or implant sites. Do not brush sutures. Antibiotic rinses and saltwater rinses are helpful. Do not rinse with alcohol or peroxyl rinses while healing.
A pink tinge in saliva during the first days after surgery is normal. When bleeding has stopped, a blood clot has developed. This blood clot is an important part of the healing process. If the clot does not form, or gets dislodged, you may develop a condition called dry socket. Dry socket occurs when the surgical site is exposed to air causing pain and potential infection. Certain medical conditions increase the chances of dry socket. There are treatments for dry socket. Should you find that pain is increasing in the days after surgery, rather than decreasing, you should call for an additional post-op appointment.
If prescribed, take the full course of antibiotic medication to ensure proper healing.
Use pain medication as needed.
NEVER USE HEAT PACKS FOLLOWING AN EXTRACTION. Heat will cause increased blood flow to the area, which will cause bruising, swelling, and pain.
If you experience prolonged bleeding, fold a piece of clean gauze to create a thick pad, dampen with water, and bite down firmly until the bleeding stops. You can also place a wet tea bag on the extraction site and bite firmly. Tea (especially black tea) has tannins which help with the clotting process.
MOST COMMON CAUSES OF DRY SOCKET
Smoking and vaping
Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which inhibits blood flow in the gingival tissues. If there is not proper blood flow, the clot will not form properly, and you may develop dry socket.
Avoid alcoholic beverages and mouth rinses that contain alcohol for a few days after surgery as they can interfere with blood clot formation and healing.
Sucking on straw
Sucking on a straw or cheeks can cause pressure change in your mouth which can dislodge the blood clot from the extraction site.
Be careful not to brush the area or eat any foods (corn chips, etc.) that could traumatize or dislodge the blood clot in the extraction site.
Vigorous swishing can also cause extreme pressure change in your mouth and can potentially dislodge the blood clot.
Heavy lifting and strenuous activity
Any heavy lifting or strenuous activity will raise your blood pressure, which could cause the extraction site to start bleeding again.