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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.

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