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What to Expect When Getting Dentures for the First Time: My Experience From Start to Finish

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Getting dentures for the first time can be a scary thought. I was intimidated and had no idea what I was in store for.

Getting dentures for the first time can be a scary thought. I was intimidated and had no idea what I was in store for.

Getting Dentures for the First Time

If you need or are thinking about getting dentures and want to know what to expect, I may be able to help you through the steps. Since I've been through it myself, I understand the concern, fear and anxiety.

Please note: I do try to be a little funny in this article as I felt I needed to lighten things up. Although the horrible and nightmarish things I say could be true for some of you, it will all be worth it in the end.

One thing to remember is that not everyone will go through the same steps, and the process may vary; at least you can get the gist of it.

On a serious note, there may be certain reasons for needing a set of dentures. Some of you may want them only for a cosmetic issue. There are others who may need them because of health issues, such as gum disease, crooked teeth that may be cutting your cheek, you can't eat, you're in pain, etc.

You must remember that if your mouth is full of infection, it can enter your bloodstream and cause very serious problems. Getting a set of dentures could be necessary to maintain your overall health.

Finding a Dentist and How Much Dentures Cost

The first thing you should probably do is check around for estimates. If you do have dental insurance, make sure they are in the preferred network. If they aren't, you could be paying a larger portion; that's the way that ours went.

You can either go to your dentist if he does make dentures, or you can go to a dental clinic. I had insurance, so I went to my local dentist. Keep in mind: you may have to see an oral surgeon as well if you have difficult-to-remove teeth that are impacted, infected, or broken off.

There are some clinics that do not accept insurance and that only accept cash payments; usually, they are substantially lower in price. I believe it's important to tell you, though, that most insurances cover only 50% of the actual dentures and pay 70% to 80% per extraction of your teeth; check with your actual plan as this is just the average and it will vary.

Will I Have to Go Without Teeth for a While?

I think this is the very first thing we worry about when we think about getting a set of dentures. I don't recall ever worrying about it too much because I was in so much pain that I really didn't care as long as it wasn't going to be an extended period of time. Going without any teeth for a long period of time and letting my face flap around and looking like a skeleton was a concern, of course.

Most dentists nowadays have what they call a "temporary or immediate set" of dentures which they place immediately after your last teeth are pulled. If you really are concerned about this, first ask your dentist whether they give you a temporary set immediately after the last pulling of your teeth.

Same Day Dentures

There are clinics that do offer same-day dentures. They usually make an appointment for you early in the morning and extract your teeth, and then they will have you come back later in the afternoon to get your dentures. You would just have to call and find out exactly how they do that because each same-day clinic does it differently. Remember, most same-day denture clinics do not accept insurance.

How Long Does It Take for Dentures to Be Made?

This is another big concern for most of us. Since I had an immediate set, I didn't have to wait. Some of you may have to wait a couple weeks or so for your teeth to be made by the lab or dentist. Sometimes it takes a couple days to a couple weeks, depending on how the dentist or lab works. When they set up your final appointment, they will pull what teeth you have left.

What Happens During Impressions of Your Mouth

If you have a gag reflex, the nurse told me a trick, and it worked—no kidding. There are actually two pretty good ways that worked for me. I have a small mouth on top of it!

The Impression Process and Not Gagging

They fill this tray that looks like a denture with no teeth in your mouth with this expandable gunk (sorry, don't know the technical name). It hardens in your mouth as you are biting down.

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Tricks to not gag: I did both!

  1. Before they put it in your mouth, straighten your legs out and POINT your feet (toes) towards your head. It prevents and stops the gagging. It was a miracle trick for me. If you want to use that technique for other reasons, which I won't say, then go ahead.
  2. When they put the tray in, immediately start breathing through your nose. Deep inhales and exhales out your nose work just as good.

If You Get a Temporary Set

A temporary set of teeth is just what it means. It's a set they give you right away to wear until your gums heal. After they pull the last of your teeth and they give you the (immediate) dentures, you will probably be crying. You won't be crying because of pain (because you will be numbed up still). You will be crying because you don't know why you just went through all this.

Your mouth will be so swollen, and you will be sore. You will have blood dripping down your face, and your teeth may be falling on your tongue. You will look like something from Planet of the Apes until the swelling goes down.

Not giving you a great scenario; just giving you an idea and what I thought; I'm just being honest. If you continue reading after you just went and threw up after reading this, then it will be worth finishing.

Permanent and Immediate Dentures

If your dentist decides, or his practice is to not give a temporary set right after the last pulling of your teeth, then you may not have as much anxiety. Let's face it, you just had the very last tooth taken out that you've had from your childhood. You were already accustomed to eating the way you had to because of your bad teeth. Now, you have to relearn all those steps again right away and you have not even had a chance to digest what you have been through.

Pros of Not Getting an Immediate Set

There are some pros to not getting temporaries. I know it's hard to go without teeth, but perhaps some of the positive things may help:

  • Your gums will be swollen and sore: and may/may not irritate more.
  • You will more likely than not get a much better fit once your mouth heals.
  • Time goes by fast, as you know; you will have something to look forward to.
  • Having to wait gives you ample time to do research (like reading my article) and get prepared.
whats-it-like-when-you-first-get-dentures

Choose the Color of Teeth You Want for Your Denture

Normally, after you get all impressions done, you need to pick a color of teeth that you would like to have. Yes, you got it! You can pick out what color of teeth you want. The colors basically range from very white to an almost like a very light brown; severely stained look (my dentist called it the smoker’s special). I chose the third whitest color. You want to try and stay around the same color your own teeth were unless you really want (or don't care about) a drastic look.

Getting Adjustments

When you have to keep getting the denture adjusted, it is kind of a pain in the you know what, but it has to be done. You will be going back every once in a while; depending on how they are fitting. I went back every week for a couple of months to get little adjustments done. You have paid an arm and a leg for a set of teeth (giggle), so you have the right to make sure they fit properly.

You may get little sores in your mouth from part of the denture (they will just file that part down some) but that goes along with the territory. After your mouth has healed enough and you come out of your room from hiding, you will need to learn how to say words again (not all, but quite a few). You will try to speak, and you will sound like someone stuck a sock in your mouth.

A dentist makes a denture

A dentist makes a denture

Several Adjustments May Be Needed

Relines

Most of you will have to get your plates relined at some point; normally, around six months or so after you get your first set. The swelling will go down in your mouth and the they won't fit as snug as they once did. The reline is normally part of the initial payment you made and it should not cost any extra.

After a year or two down the road, you may notice your denture doesn't seem to fit right because you may lose/gain weight or just over time in general; you may have to get them relined again. Mine was a couple hundred dollars to get done-you don't have to go to the same dentist if you can find someone less expensive; however, I recommend it.

If you have trouble with insurances or just can't afford to pay for it, you can do it yourself with home denture reline kits. I have used several and I prefer Densurefit.

I have had my teeth in for 15 days now with no problems. The directions are easy to follow and takes less than 20 minutes total to use. I will update as needed in case I run into a problem, but so far it's a nice snug fit and I was very pleased.

Best Home Do It Yourself Denture Reline Kit

Learning to Talk Again

Get out a book, newspaper, use the closed captioning on tv, etc.and start reading out loud. If someone put a video camera in my house, I would have probably been put away. I literally talked to myself (and answered) and would go over every possible word I could think of. My best trick was to say words and sentences I would make up that had a lot “S’s” or TH’s”. So, don’t laugh but I would go around aloud saying “Silly Suzy was eating sushi and fruit on Thursday, sitting in the street with Fred.”

I learned quickly what words I needed to work on. Practice annunciation of words or letters you are struggling with. It sounds more difficult of a process than it really is; it's just something to help if you have trouble. To be honest, I got so irritated that I got the dentures; I was just plain pissed off. After a couple weeks, I realized I could talk right, I could get used to them, and most of all, I could finally smile without being embarrassed. Like I said, it is a little frustrating at first, but keep at it and you will be fine. If you want to practice a little before you get your teeth, put a sock in your mouth.

Reading aloud to yourself will help you learn what you need to work on when learning to talk with your new dentures.

Reading aloud to yourself will help you learn what you need to work on when learning to talk with your new dentures.

You don't have to eat baby food forever after you get your dentures; start with something easy until you get more comfortable.

You don't have to eat baby food forever after you get your dentures; start with something easy until you get more comfortable.

Eating

At first, trying to eat with can be tricky. You may want to start off with soft foods to get used to eating with dentures. It will never be the same because you can't eat some food the way you used to. A lot of food will be easier to eat than others; to eat a raw carrot or celery was out of the question, for me anyway.

I do know other people who eat corn, apples, etc. I found that it basically was the quality of their teeth and plate. You may be able to eat them, with just smaller bites. It really depends on how well the quality is. Try to eat small bites and chew up your food well. I did choke a few times; test different foods until you get used to your teeth and know what you can and cannot handle.

Chewing Gum With Dentures

Attention all gum chewers: If you don't get Freedent gum or sugarless gum, you will be left in a mess. Myself, I can't even chew sugarless. The best thing to do is try chewing gum at home first to see what gum you can chew. If you don't and you go out in public and didn't choose the right gum, you will have gum literally sticking to the roof of your plate and it will be everywhere when you try to pull it off. You may actually have to even pull your teeth out as you pull the gum off the teeth and scrape the gum off. These are all just things you really need to know that no one bothered to tell me.

Brushing and Cleaning

Brushing your denture, hold on tightly so you don't drop them!

Brushing your denture, hold on tightly so you don't drop them!

Cleaning and Soaking Your Dentures

To properly get the bacteria and food stains off your teeth, you will need to soak them (every night is recommended by my dentist). I use Polident's 3 Minute Cleanser so I can put my teeth back in right away. i also take a toothbrush with some paste in the morning to freshen up my denture and mouth.

Some people take their teeth out every night and let them soak in Polident or Efferdent; whichever cleaner you choose. I only take mine out and let them soak every few days at night when I'm sleeping so the family doesn't see me running around looking like a skeleton. I said that earlier, but it's the truth. Your face caves in and you look a little funny, but it's better than being in pain from having your bad teeth!

I use a covered small plastic bowl with warm water, not hot or cold. Put enough water to just barely cover the denture. Drop in a tablet, wait 3-5 minutes, rinse well and dry off. Re-apply your adhesive and go. (If you still have food in the teeth, take your brush to it).

Use a denture bath.

Use a denture bath.

Keep Your Dentures Away From Fido

If you have a dog in the house, this is great advice. Do not set your teeth down on the table or anywhere where an animal can get to them. Dentures smell like food, and your dog will want to chew on them!

I have woken up in middle of night to use the bathroom and felt different and noticed my teeth fell out. As I frantically looked around, I noticed my precious pet wagging his tail and loving his new bone. It happens to even the most conscious and experienced wearer.

Broken (fractured) denture

Broken (fractured) denture

Be Careful Not to Drop Your Dentures

Unfortunately, you will more than likely drop your teeth at some point.

A few things to remember:

  • Your set of teeth are fragile.
  • Try not to eat things that may bust them. e.g., apples, celery, etc., unless you cut them in smaller and thinner slices. I suggest cooked/steamed apples and vegetables.
  • When taking your bottom denture out, don't remove them by the middle of your plate. Take both thumbs and gently push them up at same time from the sides. if not, you may bust them. (If your bottoms don’t stay in anyway, then you don’t have to worry about it).
  • When taking the top plate out, use each forefinger (one on each side) and pull down gently from the top inside ridge your plate.

If Your Denture Breaks

Do not try to glue them yourself; even if it's a clean break. There is a special type of bonding material the lab uses and you can actually ruin your denture if you choose to do it yourself. I have to be honest, it probably won't work anyway.

My husband had broken his bottoms and used Gorilla Glue because the break was right in the middle of his. Yes, I agree, totally stupid thing to do (chemicals, etc.). Let's just say it held together for one day.

I recommend contacting your dentist for any repairs. They can usually repair it if it's a good clean break and not in pieces. It cost us $100 because the break was right in the middle and perfectly straight. There are denture repair kits you can purchase, but I personally didn't have any luck with it.

If you drop your teeth and the tooth breaks, don't panic, usually the dentist can repair that to. It would have to be sent to the lab for repair (unless your dentist has his own lab). I dropped my tops in the hospital and it hit the hard floor; it broke the front tooth in half. Until I was able to get to the dentist, I had a half of tooth. The lab fixed it in one day, thankfully, but since it was a tooth, my bill was $175.

Quick Temporary Tooth Fix For Your Denture

How to Apply Denture Glue

There are a lot of different adhesives to use. You will have to experiment with probably a few on the market for a while to see which one holds your denture in the best. What works for me, may not work for you. I went through every one of them two or three times until I figured out which works best for me.

The picture on the top is my denture using Fixodent Plus . You can see the difference in the texture and width of the line. The one on bottom is using Poligrip and seems like it would feel more comfortable and hold better; again, that's not the case as far as I am concerned. I found using Poligrip to ooze more and my denture would loosen after a few hours; had to reapply several times a day.

Tip: Do not put too much adhesive on your denture! You will soon learn that more denture glue does not mean better hold. Also, you will swallow the glue because it will ooze out the back and down your throat. I will supply you with a video that will show you the proper way to put glue on your teeth. I always have a tube in my purse because I use it on my bottom teeth about four times a day. I need teeth, and by golly I'm doing what I can to wear them.

whats-it-like-when-you-first-get-dentures
whats-it-like-when-you-first-get-dentures

Best Denture Adhesive

"smoketeeth" by stupidpony is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

"smoketeeth" by stupidpony is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You Will Get Used to Your Dentures

It kills me to go somewhere and see people without their teeth. These are people I know and they just refuse to wear them because they gave up on them. Well I'm telling you, don't! Are you really not going to continue to try and get used to them because you feel like you can't do it? You went through hell to get them and it cost a fortune. You got dentures because your teeth looked horrible, and you felt embarrassed to smile, or they were so bad with infection, you had to. Regardless, either way, it doesn't matter, please keep trying! If you feel they aren’t right, make an appointment with your dentist and get it fixed.

Everyone is beautiful and everyone deserves not to be self conscious. I promise, you will get used to wearing dentures; and yes, they still are a pain in the ass. The bottoms may or may not "float." That means, they just lift up right in the middle of talking or eating. However, that is why they made Fixodent and all those other adhesives; this way you don't have them floating (flopping) but sometimes it's the luck of the draw, unfortunately.