Dentures can do fabulous things for a smile that’s been compromised by the loss of teeth. Once you’re properly fitted for dentures, you’ll have the gleaming white smile you remember from your youth. Read on for the truth behind some common misconceptions about dentures.
Myth: My dentures will last forever.
Fact: While dentures are durable, they are not any more permanent than a pair of eyeglasses. Even with proper care, your dentures can lose their natural appearance and chewing ability due to brushing and age. They can become warped or dry out if placed in hot water. Dropping them even a few inches can break a tooth or the denture base.
To help increase their lifespan, place them in a container of denture-cleaning solution at night. You’re not even off the hook as far as brushing is concerned. However, it’s best to use a brush designed for dentures as well as a denture cleaner rather than toothpaste, because some may be too abrasive for dentures.
Myth: Once you have dentures, you don’t need to see a dentist any more.
Fact: Wrong. Since your mouth is continually changing you should continue to see your dentist regularly for oral examinations. Mouth tissue can show signs of disease, such as diabetes, that first display themselves in the mouth. Your dentist will check for signs of oral cancer, examine your gum ridges, tongue and jaw joints, as well as check your dentures. Looseness may be caused by tissue changes. Bad odor can be caused by absorption of fluid and bacteria. So don’t stop scheduling those twice yearly visits!
Myth: Everyone knows when you’re wearing dentures. It’s embarrassing.
Fact: This is only true if your dentures look unnatural or need re-fitting. Many of the “tell-tale” signs of dentures—clicking or slipping, unpleasant odor or stains—are actually signs of poor fit or improper home care. Regular dental exams and proper home care is the way to make sure your dentures look natural.
Myth: Denture wearers can’t eat normally, or even speak properly.
Fact: Simply not true. If you develop speech or eating problems at any time, have your dentist check the fit of your dentures.
Myth: I have to use adhesives to make my dentures fit, or I can’t wear them all day.
Fact: This is an especially dangerous myth. Dentures are made to fit precisely and usually do not require regular use of an adhesive for comfort. In emergencies, denture adhesives can be used to keep dentures stable, but prolonged use can mask infections and cause bone loss in the jaw. A denture that does not fit properly can cause irritation over a long period and may contribute to the development of sores and tumors. The only real solution is to get in to see your dentist as soon as possible.
Myth: Dentures aren’t like natural teeth: they’re not affected by over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Fact: They’re more alike than you think. Drugs can affect how your dentures fit and wear. Certain medications can reduce the supply of saliva in your mouth, making it difficult to swallow or chew. Be sure to let your dentist know of any medications that you may take, even occasionally.
Myth: I can make my own denture repairs.
Fact: This is one project to strike from your list of do-it-yourself tasks. Improperly relined dentures can be bulky and cause pressure on the jaw and more rapid loss of jawbone. Do-it-yourself reliners can also irritate the soft tissues of your mouth. The handyman approach can ruin your dentures and may result in the need for a new denture.
Myth: I’ll be without teeth for days if I take my denture to the dentist for refitting or repair.
Fact: How does a couple hours sound? Advancements in modern dentistry have made it possible for your dentist to reline or repair dentures quickly—often right in the office. If you let your dentist know that you are in need of a denture repair, the correction can frequently be made on the same day.
Myth: I know I should have my denture replaced, but I just don’t want to go through a long adjustment period again.
Fact: The first time is always the hardest. There will be some adjustment, but it will probably be shorter and easier than the first time. And it is important! Prolonged use of dentures that don’t fit properly can irritate the gums, tongue and cheek, and even cause the ridges of your mouth to shrink to the point where it will almost be impossible to fit you with normal dentures. Your ability to chew may decrease, and your face may acquire deep aging lines and wrinkles. When you think about it, the temporary adjustment period isn’t so bad after all, is it?
Myth: All dentures are the same. It makes sense to shop around and look for the lowest price.
Fact: You get what you pay for. Only a licensed dentist is qualified to provide denture services. Before prescribing a denture, the dentist looks closely at your health history, performs an oral exam and carefully measures and prepares your mouth for your dentures. Dentists work closely with reputable dental laboratories, where trained technicians make your dentures to match your dentist’s specifications. Mail order specials for self-fitting dentures are a waste of money, and can cause serious oral health problems.
Extracting a Tooth
You went to the dentist today. He said those words no one wants to hear – “These are going to have to come out.” Now you’re panicking.
Relax. It’s nothing to worry about. And it’s not a reflection of a personal flaw. In fact, there are lots of reasons you might need to have a tooth removed. Sure, it might be because it’s too badly damaged or decayed to save, but it could also simply be because the tooth is causing crowding, an improper bite, or preventing another tooth from coming in.
How Is a Tooth Removed?
So what can you expect? First of all, your dentist will use a local anesthetic to completely numb the area around the tooth to be removed. Then he’ll gently move the tooth back and forth to loosen it from the socket. To control bleeding afterwards, your dentist will place a gauze pad over the gums where the tooth was removed.
While your dentist will give you specific instructions, the gauze is usually left in place for 30 to 45 minutes after you leave the office. Do not chew on the gauze. Don’t panic if there’s bleeding after you remove the pack – it’s normal. In fact, your dentist will give you directions for what to do if this happens. Eventually, a blood clot will form in the socket.
Do not be grossed out. This blood clot is part of the natural healing process and should not be disturbed. Here’s how you can protect it:
•Do not rinse your mouth vigorously, smoke, or drink through a straw for 24 hours. These activities create suction in the mouth that could dislodge the clot and delay healing.
•Do not clean the teeth next to the healing tooth socket for the rest of the day. Gently rinse your mouth after you brush and floss your other teeth.
•Limit vigorous activity for 24 hours after the extraction. This will reduce bleeding and help the blood clot to form.
After your tooth is removed, you may also notice some swelling. You can help reduce the chipmunk effect by applying an ice bag or cold, moist cloth compress to your face occasionally.
While on the road to recovery, drink lots of liquids and eat soft, nutritious foods. Avoid alcoholic drinks and hot liquids. As soon as you can chew comfortably, usually the next day, begin eating solid foods. However, don’t try to chew on the side where the tooth was extracted for several days. If you experience nausea and vomiting, call your dentist.
Your dentist may prescribe medication to control the pain and to prevent infection. Use it only as directed and if the medicine does not seem to work for you, do not increase the dosage. If you have severe pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever, call your dentist right away.
Completion of the Healing Process
After the tooth is removed, the initial healing process usually takes one to two weeks. The filling in and reshaping of the jawbone will continue for several months after the tooth has been removed.
That’s it! That wasn’t so bad, was it? A tiny little tweak and you’re done. So don’t panic.
It’s a fact of life – emergencies don’t occur when doctor’s offices are open. It seems like it’s always in the dead of night, a national holiday or a weekend when a tooth gets knocked out or starts aching so bad you want to howl.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of dos and don’ts for dental emergencies. In all cases, you should get to your dentist as soon as you can, but the following tips should keep you going until you can get there.
•Do rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out.
•Do use dental floss to remove any food that might be trapped between the teeth.
•Don’t place aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
•Do see your dentist as soon as possible.
•Do rinse the tooth in running water if it’s dirty.
•Don’t scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments.
•Do gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket or place it in a cup of milk or cool water.
•Do go straight to your dentist – if you get there in 30 minutes or less, there’s a good chance the tooth can be put back in its rightful place.
•Do gently clean dirt from the injured area with warm water.
•Do place cold compresses on the face in the area of the injured tooth to decrease swelling.
•Do go to the dentist immediately.
Bitten Tongue or Lip
•Do apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth.
•Do apply cold compresses if swelling is present.
•Do go to the emergency room if the bleeding doesn’t stop.
Problems With Braces and Retainers
•Do use a small cotton ball, beeswax or piece of gauze if a wire is causing irritation.
•Don’t remove a wire that gets stuck in your cheek, tongue or gum tissue.
•Do go to the dentist if an appliance comes loose or breaks.
Objects Caught Between Teeth
•Do try to remove the object with floss, being careful not to cut the gums.
•Don’t use a sharp or pointed instrument.
•Do go to the dentist if you can’t remove it.
Possible Broken Jaw
•Don’t move your jaw.
•Do secure it in place by tying a handkerchief, necktie or towel around the jaw and over the top of your head.
•Do apply cold compresses if swelling is present.
•Do go immediately to a hospital emergency room.
The New Face of Artificial Teeth
When you think of artificial teeth, do dentures automatically come to mind? Well, it’s time to expand that picture because there’s something new on the market, which may be just for you – dental implants.
Unlike dentures, which have to be taken in and out, implants are attached directly to the jawbone. Implants are more comfortable to wear than dentures and bridges and they work better, making it easier to chew and speak, increasing self-confidence and esteem.
If you are considering implants, be sure to talk with your dentist about whether they are right for you. Your dentist will perform a complete oral exam, take a medical history, check the condition of your mouth, the supporting bones in your jaws and the way your upper and lower teeth fit together to determine whether or not implants are appropriate for you.
If you decide that implants are the best option for you, the process will begin with inserting the anchor into its place. After the gums have healed, restorative teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Your dentist will make sure that the implants fit properly so that they are comfortable and work properly.
Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are essential to the success of dental implants. Your dentist will give you instructions on proper care and will regularly watch the healing and attachment of the implant to the jaw.
Implants can last for many years with careful daily oral hygiene. However, only your Michigan Dental Association dentist can tell if and what type of implant is right for you, and recommend a qualified professional who will take good care of you. So if you’re thinking you’d like to have implants see your MDA dentist today and be prepared to smile on.
A gap-toothed smile can make you look absolutely darling — if you’re less than seven years old. Otherwise, a missing tooth negatively effects your appearance – causing your mouth to sink and your face to look older, effecting the way you chew and speak, and placing unusual stress on your teeth and the tissues in your mouth, by forcing them to compensate for the extra space.
Luckily, bridges can easily fill in these compromising gaps. There are two types – fixed and removable. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dentist whereas a removable bridge can be taken out for cleaning. Removable bridges, while less expensive, may not be as effective or last as long as a fixed bridge.
Your dentist will help you decide which type of bridge is more appropriate for you. If you need extensive bridgework, your dentist may also refer you to a dentist who specializes in restoring natural teeth and replacing missing teeth called a prosthodontist.
After you’re fitted for a bridge, it’s very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy. If you don’t, and the teeth or bone that hold the bridge in place become damaged by disease, the bridge can lose its support and cease fitting properly. To prevent this from happening, brush twice a day and floss regularly, being very careful to clean the areas under, around and between the bridge and your natural teeth. If you have difficulties reaching some areas of your mouth, purchase a dental floss threader or special brush to help. Above all, make sure you see your Michigan Dental Association dentist for regular check-ups to ensure all goes well.
Remember, the ultimate success or failure of a fixed bridge depends on its foundation. Keep your gums and remaining teeth healthy – your dental health and your appearance (not to mention your smile) are well worth the effort!
If your teeth are discolored, chipped, effected by breaks and cracks, or even have gaps, bonding may be the way to go. In this simple, long-lasting and cost-effective procedure, your dentist “bonds” a natural looking, tooth-colored material called composite resins, to the enamel of your teeth. After the resin is applied to the tooth and properly shaped, it is hardened using a special light. The tooth is then smoothed and polished. Bonding usually lasts three to five years, and can even be used to protect roots exposed by receding gums and restore decayed teeth.