Many people used to think that once they lost all their natural teeth their dental worries were over. This is not the case.
When teeth are extracted, the bone that held them in the jaw resorbs (shrinks), so that the bony support for dentures constantly changes. This is a problem particularly in the lower jaw, where extensive bone loss can occur, making it very difficult for some people to control their lower denture. Hence, dentures should be checked every five years. As bone in the mouth constantly changes in shape, it is clear that individuals cannot expect a set of dentures to last for life. Some people may find denture fixatives helpful, but they are only a short term solution. The main constituents of fixatives are tragacanth gum which may cause constipation, and kanaya gum which can decalcify dental enamel. This can be a major problem if the individual still has some natural teeth present. Home-use denture repair kits and relining kits to make dentures fit more comfortably are not recommended. Temporary repair kits are sometimes useful to mend fractured dentures in an emergency, but broken dentures are best mended by a dentist, or a dental technician working in association with a dentist.
- Dentures should be cleaned at least once a day with a nonabrasive paste and a soft toothbrush.
- A soft nail brush is a useful alternative for people whose manual dexterity is compromised.
- Soaking the dentures once or twice a week in a diluted 2% sodium hypochlorite solution will help keep them really clean, but they must not be soaked in hot water.
- Disinfectants containing bleach should not be used on dentures with any metal components.
- Dentures should be removed before sleeping and kept out of the mouth for 6 to 8 hours each day to give the gums a chance to rest.