In the past, it was common to replace all natural teeth with false teeth as soon as there was a problem. These days, oral health professionals aim to help you keep your natural teeth for as long as possible. With good care, teeth can last a lifetime. But even with good care, it may be necessary to get a full or part denture to replace damaged teeth at some point.
Preparing for dentures
Research has found that tooth loss can cause emotions such as grief, denial, anger and depression. You may feel a loss of self-confidence or feel self-conscious when eating, talking or smiling. You may need to take some time to prepare yourself emotionally for getting dentures. Speak with your oral health professional if you feel worried about getting dentures.
Choosing the right dentures
There are two ways to have dentures made:
- On the day your teeth are taken out (an ‘immediate denture’) – the denture can be made while you still have some of your natural teeth and put in on the day your teeth are taken out. Changes to the bone after the teeth are removed may cause the denture to become loose over time and it may need to be adjusted within a few months to improve the fit.
- Two to three months later – a denture is made some time after your teeth are removed. This allows time for the bone to change and heal, and means that the denture should be a better fit from the start.
Your oral health professional can talk with you about which option would suit you best. It will depend on the number of teeth being removed, what you would like (where possible) and the facilities available.
Complications of dentures
You may experience some issues with your dentures. See your oral health professional if you have:
- dentures that don’t fit well or are uncomfortable
- loose teeth
- bleeding gums
- ulcers (sores) that last more than two weeks
- a gum abscess (pus-filled sore on the gum)
- soreness or cracks in the corner of your mouth
- bad breath.
Ask your oral health professional how often you should have your dentures checked.
Caring for your dentures and your mouth
It is important to look after your dentures to keep your mouth healthy. Clean your dentures in the morning and before bed. You may also like to rinse them in cold water after meals.
Tips for cleaning your dentures include:
- Hold the denture gently but firmly. Do not hold the lower dentures at the ends as the pressure might cause them to snap.
- Clean dentures over a hand basin half-filled with water or covered with a towel. This means they won’t break if you drop them.
- Brush all surfaces of the denture to remove food and plaque build-up. Use a denture brush with mild soap and water, or denture paste. Toothpaste is not recommended because it can scratch the dentures.
- Keep clean dentures in cold water overnight.
- Gently brush any parts of your mouth that are normally covered by the dentures with a soft toothbrush. This includes your gums and the roof of your mouth.
Remember to take your dentures out before you go to bed. Leaving your dentures out overnight gives your mouth a chance to rest and recover. It also helps to prevent fungal infections.
Other things you can do for a healthy mouth include:
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day.
- Drink plenty of tap water.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks, especially between meals.
- Have a dental check-up. Ask your oral health professional how often you should have a check- up.
- If you take medication, ask your doctor, pharmacist or oral health professional if it affects your mouth.
Where to get help
- Your public dental clinic:
- Community dental clinics:
- To find your local clinic Tel. 1300 360 054 or search by postcode at www.dhsv.org.au
- The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne:
- General enquiries or to make an appointment Tel. (03) 9341 1000 or 1800 833 039 outside Melbourne metro 8.30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday
- Dental emergencies Tel. 1300 360 054 8.30 am to 9.15 pm, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 9.15 pm, weekends and public holidays
- Your private dental clinic:
- Look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Dentists’ or search at www.yellowpages.com.au
- Visit the Australian Dental Association website, www.ada.org.au, and use the ‘Find a Dentist’ search tool
Things to remember
- Clean your dentures and gums twice a day to keep your mouth healthy.
- Take your dentures out at night to reduce the chance of fungal infections.
- Dentures should fit well and be comfortable, see your oral health professional if you have pain.
- Speak to your oral health professional if you find that losing your natural teeth has some emotional impacts.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Dental Health Services Victoria
Page content currently being reviewed.
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.