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Following the delivery of new dentures there is a variable period (generally 2-12 weeks) during which patients must adjust and accommodate. New dentures often feel bulky and awkward at first. Patients often state that their relatives or friends had “no problem adjusting to their dentures” and that they could chew well from the first day. Unfortunately, patients soon forget the difficult adjustment period once their dentures have become second nature. The ability to function with complete dentures involves learned neuro-muscular skills, the muscle of the tongue, lips and cheek must learn to coordinate movement that takes time to develop. Although the time required may vary and depend on such factors as the quality of the remaining ridges, all new denture wearers will require this adjustment period.

Because the new artificial teeth may be placed in slightly different relationships and the plastic denture base may feel bulky, speech patterns are often temporarily interrupted. The learning process can be enhanced by practice. Reading aloud is one way to minimize the time required to recover normal speech patterns. Continued difficulty should be brought to our attention. Coughing and sneezing tend to unseat dentures. A good precaution in this case is to cover your mouth with your hand or handkerchief. If you experience motion sickness, nausea, or vomiting, remove your dentures at once and keep them in a safe place until you recover.

Develop the habit of resting your tongue in the floor of the mouth so that the tip just touches the lower front teeth. This will help to keep the lower denture in place, particularly when you open your mouth widely. If you practice this positioning with your new dentures, correct placement of the tongue will become automatic in a short time.

A normal response of the body to new dentures is increased salivary flow. The glands try to wash out the strange “foreign body.” This situation may persist for several weeks but will gradually disappear.

Again, it will take practice to learn to eat a fairly normal diet with new dentures. During the first several days we recommend a soft diet, or food that require little chewing, such as cereals, eggs, ground meats, soup, milk, and ice cream. This helps to avoid potential sore spots, with a minimum of discomfort, and make the learning period more tolerable. Avoid tough, hard and sticky foods until you become more experienced. Although some experienced denture patients can eat a normal diet including apples, salads, corn-on-the-cob, this is probably the exception rather than the rule. Most denture wearers will find some restrictions in the foods they can manage. Some points to remember regarding eating and chewing habits: -Eat slowly and cut food into small pieces, chew slowly. -Although the normal tendency is to chew on either one side or the other, denture wearers may function better by chewing with food on both sides over the back teeth at the same time. This helps to prevent tipping of the dentures. -Avoid, when possible, bringing the lower teeth forward and against the upper from teeth to cut or incise foods. This protects the delicate upper from ridge and prevents denture tipping and breaking of front denture teeth. -If it is necessary to bite using the front teeth, try spreading the tongue against the back of the upper denture to keep it in place. -Try to chew vertically (up and down) rather than horizontally (side to side). -When eating foods such as apples, cut bite-sized pieces with knife, and chew with the back teeth. -Remember also that plastic is a good insulator so that hot food will not be perceived quickly as being to warn for consumption. Be careful.

New dentures almost always cause some sore spots. These must be relieved during the first couple of postinsertion adjustment appointments. We recommend eating soft foods until the initial sore spots are eliminated. The best home treatment between appointments for sore spots is to rinse with warm salt water. Do not alter denture yourself. Do not use commercial repair products or commercial relining products for your denture. You may ruin the dentures and cause damage to your gums and the bone or your jaw.

There is no question that the healthiest policy is to remove dentures for at least six hours daily to allow soft tissue to breathe and recover. For most patients the most convenient way to do this is to remove the dentures while sleeping. When out of the mouth they should be soaked in water or a denture cleaning solution. Such a practice will maintain much healthier oral tissues, preserve the ridges and underlying bone, and allow the dentures to fit properly for a long period of time.

Denture adhesives may be necessary in certain situations where retention is minimal due to ridge height or factors beyond the control of the patient or the doctor.

It is important that denture be kept clean in order to avoid mouth odors and to keep the denture looking attractive. Take the dentures out of the mouth after eating and clean them. Always hold dentures over a partially filled sink when cleaning them. Any commercial denture cleaner may be used. Dentures should be thoroughly cleaned daily with a denture brush and cleaner. Do not use toothpaste, as it is too abrasive and will scratch the denture. Also brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. If a hard chalky tartar or calculus forms on the denture, soaking it overnight in a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water may soften the deposits enough to permit removal by brushing. Do not use hot water to soak the plastic denture since it may result in warpage. Such changes may also result from the denture being left out of moisture for long periods of time.

If dentures are not in the mouth, they need to be soaking in water. Do not wrap dentures in paper towel or put in your purse or pocket. Keep dentures away from heat or pets.

Partial denture patients may follow many of the same guidelines outlined above. Additional pointers include: -Do not “bite” the appliance into place as this may loosen or break clasps. -Avoid biting into hard food with the upper front artificial teeth which may break rather easily. -Never attempt to bend or adjust the metal clasps yourself. Never attempt to alter denture yourself.

If dentures are inserted the day the teeth are removed, remember leave the denture in place during the first 24 hours. Follow normal post-extraction recommendations. The denture bases must be refitted as the healing progresses. The adjustment period of immediate dentures is more difficult and requires more office visits. The tissue in your mouth will heal causing change. Therefore, several temporary relines of the denture may be necessary until bone and tissue shrinkage are stabilized. A permanent hard laboratory reline is needed after stabilization (usually 9-12 months after delivery or dentures). There is a separate fee for this procedure.

Although care for stayplates usually same with dentures, stayplates are meant to be used temporarily, for cosmetic and healing. Most of the time, they cannot be used for chewing and biting.

Don’t forget to have your mouth and dentures examined every year.

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