What You Need To Know Right Before And Right After Getting Dentures (Written By Someone With Full Dentures)
This is a picture I took of my temporary dentures, which are the dentures I'll be wearing for a full year.
It's Normal To Feel Terrified Or Sad
Pretty much everyone is scared or depressed before they have to get dentures. This is because, if you're contemplating dentures, a lot has had to go wrong first.
You might have spent lots of money on dental work already only to have all that dental work fail. You're probably struggling to chew and/or bite your food and struggling with pain. You've likely lost at least a few teeth already-either to dentists pulling them or them shattering when you tried to eat something (the last tooth I shattered was a molar while I was chewing a piece of bread. I also had several teeth at the time that the dentist had pulled.)
I get it. You don't have much hope right now because you've seen things continually go down hill and you don't feel like there could possibly be a solution to your problem as simple as dentures.
But that's one of the amazing things about getting dentures that no one will tell you. You've fought every day, a losing battle. But with dentures, you'll find that things reverse. You suddenly have hope now. Your mouth is no longer deteriorating, it's improving.
It is also a huge life change. You've no doubt been told by your dentist or other people that if you get this procedure done, you might regret it.
I was told the exact same thing, by a ton of people. I had two friends tell me not to do it and every dentist I went to advise against it. They said I was too young at 30 to have it and that I should keep trying to get dental work done even though it was continually failing. This is despite the fact that I couldn't chew even bread without risking my teeth shattering.
The truth is that they're never going to recommend you to get dentures, no matter how bad your teeth are. (And if they do, then you need to take that seriously because most dentists will not.) This is a conclusion I had to come to on my own and I don't regret that decision.
Still, huge life changes like this are terrifying, even if you're pretty sure that you need them.
Dentures are not for everyone, so I know a part of you is likely doubting your decision right now, even if you're fairly certain you need dentures. If you have any questions about this, you might want to check my article here about how to know whether or not you're ready for dentures:
But if your teeth all have problems, if you get dental work and it has to be redone after less than five years have passed, if you're having trouble chewing your meals at all, or your teeth are always at risk for breaking while you eat...you probably need dentures.
There are moments in life where you have to make huge, scary decisions and you're uncertain of the future. These situations are unavoidable sometimes. But if you don't make the right decision and face your fear when you need it, then you could be hurt.
People die all the time from tooth problems. Here's a story of a 24 year old man who died of a simple toothache:
So if you have the money to get dentures, but you're scared, understand that a lot of people envy the position you are in. They wish they had the money for dentures because dental work is very expensive, especially the more you need to get done. There are people who are in pain all the time like you probably are and whose lives are at risk every day, but they don't have a choice.
Don't let your fear prevent you from taking care of yourself. Because choosing not to get dentures can also lead to an irreversible fate as well-death. Not enough dentists talk about this possibility.
The Cup I Soak My Dentures In Every Night
Things Won't Be Perfect Right Away
You will find people who aren't happy that they got dentures (although they are in the minority, most of us are thrilled about it.) A lot of these people have unreasonable expectations.
Is it reasonable to expect your teeth to improve in appearance dramatically? Yes, your teeth will look perfect!
Is it reasonable to expect that you will eat much better than before and not have to be afraid of your teeth shattering? Yes, it will get so much better. You'll be so happy.
Is it reasonable to expect to talk normally after you get dentures? Yes.
Is it reasonable for you to expect all these changes to happen immediately? No.
The truth is, you are getting an operation. They are removing your teeth (possibly giving you bone grafts and eventually implants if you have the money/health for it.) And they're giving you a prosthetic to replace those teeth.
A lot of people expect to just jump out of the chair after the surgery, have no pain and no recovery.
There are some people I've talk to who are very fortunate. Their good results are immediate. They don't have pain or swelling. They can eat potato chips that same day.
But a lot of other people are like me and that's okay, too. I bled a lot. I was on pain reliever for weeks. I had to go to the dentist a million times for adjustments and a reline so far (I'm a month in) and I couldn't even swallow at first without difficulty.
But I learned. I've learned how to talk better with dentures over time. I've learned how to eat better. Learning how to drink took me about a day, but learning to take my dentures out and put them back in took me many days.
My dentures used to feel enormous in my mouth. Now they feel normal. Just the perfect size and I was scared they'd never feel this way.
I'm still healing and I won't fully be healed for about a year, even though all my extraction sites are now closed and my gums look pretty good.
But I'm happy and it was worth it because now my life is getting better.
With any operation there is a healing and adjustment period. It's normal, but if you're not expecting it, you might panic right away when you can't even eat mashed potatoes at first. Be patient with your body. Be patient with yourself.
And I know it might sound like a horribly, long process, but honestly the time has flown by. I can't believe that a little over a month ago, I got my dentures! It feels like yesterday.
People ask all the time,"When will the pain go away with my dentures?" or "When will I be able to eat?" They're scared it might never happen. But I guarantee that it will. Unfortunately there is no time table that fits everyone.
For me, a couple of weeks in, I was eating everything. For someone else, it was the same day as their extractions. And for someone else, it wasn't until a year later (that's the most extreme I've heard of, so this is very unlikely to happen for you.) But it will happen eventually and it will feel worth everything you went through to get there.
Denture Storage And Cleaning
While I just use a simple plastic cup to hold my dentures over night, you may want to actually purchase something intended to store and clean your dentures. They come with a drain to make it easier to get your dentures out of the water it is soaking in without accidentally dropping them into the sink and also make traveling with dentures more convenient.
Here's Another Picture Of My Dentures With The Soft Reline In Them (The Light Pink Material On The Top Of My Dentures)
Every Day Is Better Than The Last
I will tell you what's amazing about the recovery of full extractions and getting dentures. Every day is significantly better than the last. Not a little bit better, but significantly.
Every day, the swelling would be visibly smaller, the pain much less. Every day, I could chew a little more. Every day, I could handle my dentures being in my mouth without pain a little longer. Every day, I could say words easier.
When you have bad teeth, life is the opposite of this. There's less food you can eat over time, less food that you can chew. You know it's only a matter of time before you shatter more teeth. You see blood when you brush or floss. You are even more disappointed than you were before every time you go to the dentist for a new check-up. Something new is wrong.
So the beginning of getting dentures may be difficult, but it's a turning point. Things will no longer get worse, you'll find them always getting better.
It's easy to panic sometimes when you're new to dentures. Like, if you can't chew at first, you might panic and think,"Oh no! How will I get through life without chewing?"
That's the old you talking, the one with bad teeth, the one who has bad things happen to their teeth and has to adjust to every bad new thing. Now, you're going to have to constantly adjust to good things instead. One day, you won't be able to eat mashed potatoes, but the next day, you might not only be able to eat mashed potatoes, but also be able to eat a sandwich, too!
It's really hard to get past those old mentalities. I'm still struggling with them. You're so used to the old rules subconsciously, that you still follow them, even though you shouldn't. Like, I was so scared to chew on the right side of my mouth when I was first learning how to chew. When I had bad teeth, that was my worst side. All my molars were hollow on that side. I told my mom it was like chewing with teeth made of glass. If anything touched those teeth at all, I knew they'd all instantly shatter. So even though those teeth were gone and I had new, better teeth, I got terrified that it would hurt really bad if I chewed on the right side of my mouth. I forced myself to do so, but it was scary.
In the same way, it's been scary trying to eat foods again that used to hurt me in the past. I keep expecting them to hurt me and to be moaning in pain, but that never happens now that my gums have adjusted to the dentures. There are some things that they still don't understand how to chew yet, like really chewy things, especially if they are thin, like beef jerky and bacon. But it doesn't hurt when I try to chew those things anymore. I just can't chew them into tiny enough pieces to swallow so far (and that will probably change, like I said, every day gets better!) But the point is the pain is gone.
A Must For Keeping Your Dentures Clean
The Toothbrush I Use To Brush My Dentures With (Very Different Than My Old Toothbrush)
It's Important To Stay Positive
What will help you during recovery the most is staying positive. This can be a battle. I definitely got depressed at moments when I first got my dentures. This is because I was still in pain from recovery. I got scared I'd never get better, that my pain would never end. I also got scared that people would think I'm a monster without my teeth if they saw me.
The truth is that I told a bunch of people that I was getting dentures and most of them forgot because they didn't care that much. I've gotten compliments about how beautiful my teeth are now and have had to remind people that I already told before that my teeth are fake now. No one notices and no one cares.
My husband has bad teeth still and he's jealous of me right now. I can eat ciabatta bread. The other day, he tried, even though he knows it's too hard on him and was howling in pain. My heart ached as soon as I saw him like that. I remember how that pain felt, how horrible it was, how it sometimes kept me up at night, and how no pain reliever could soothe it.
But now I can't feel that pain anymore. Even when I try to chew stuff that I can't chew there is zero pain. All that pain is just a memory.
Staying positive helps you recover and adapt better. Staying positive helps you get through the hard parts. You have a lot to look forward to after you pull your teeth!
Denture Toothbrush - Much Gentler On Dentures And Easier To Use Than A Normal Toothbrush
I did this for the past year. I kept going,"Maybe if I put getting dentures off for a little while, then I'll have my teeth that much longer."
Guess what? I don't miss my old teeth and don't understand any longer why I put myself through all that pain. Why did I let myself have all those infections or that giant abscess the dentists had to drain?
I didn't need to. I was just scared.
And now that I'm on the other side, I feel relief.
I remember when I was about 24 years old and I first found out I had horrible teeth. (My teeth deteriorated rapidly due to disease, which is why it took only six years after that point for me to very obviously need dentures.) My dentist lectured me as some rude dentists are prone to do. Rapid decay like that is not usually caused by taking care of your teeth poorly, it's usually caused by disease, but he lectured me as if I hadn't brushed my teeth in five years. The truth is, I brushed and flossed every day. It's not fun to floss with bad teeth, the floss gets stuck sometimes and the holes rip up the floss. Plus, it hurts and bleeds all over the place.
You've probably heard all the lectures if you have bad teeth, heard their unreasonable demands. If you have bad teeth, for instance, suddenly it's a requirement for you to brush your teeth six times a day, while a normal person gets away with 1-2 times a day.
And I remember them threatening me that if I continued to neglect my teeth (which I wasn't doing), then I'd need dentures by the time I was 30. I did get dentures when I was 30.
I don't know why dentists want to terrify you by talking about dentures like it's the end of the world, but they try to do this. It isn't. Don't listen to them.
I feel this giant sense of relief instead.
First of all, I never get teeth pain anymore. The worst I get is a slight soreness at the end of the day because my gums are tired of my dentures and want a rest for the night. The second I take my dentures out, one hundred percent of that slight soreness is gone. With your old teeth, you just have to put up with pain. With your new teeth, if you have any slight pain, you can take them out and say,"Go hurt somewhere else without me" and it works!
Secondly, I don't hate going to the dentist anymore. I no longer obsess over the cost of things because the big costs are behind me. And all those drills and shots in my gums and other scary things? Yea, those things don't effect me anymore. I will never get another root canal. I'll never need a tooth pulled. I'll never have to have an abscess cut open without numbness again. Or have a cavity filled and drool all over myself because of the numbness.
The worst that ever happens now is that I get an impression of my gums done that lasts for like five minutes.
You're so scared and anxious before dentures every day and then after recovery, there's so much relief. You'll wonder why you put it off and see it as foolish afterwards.
Get A Dentist Who Lives Near To You And See Them Often
One of the mistakes people make, like I said before, is expecting things to be perfect right away.
The truth is, you're going to have to go to your dentists for adjustments. Possibly a lot of them. Eventually you will need relines as well. I went to my dentist so many times. I was scared they'd be irritated by it.
But every time I came back, things were better. Especially with my first relines. I was able to eat normally immediately afterwards.
One of the reasons people hate their dentures sometimes is because they accept whatever they got at first and never try to get adjustments. The truth is, the better your dentures fit, the better they work. So if you don't get adjustments, you're going to hate your dentures and they're going to fit you terribly. Some people just give up at this point and they shouldn't.
Even if you somehow chose the wrong dentist and they can't fix your dentures (which is very unlikely to happen), then you can go somewhere else and have a different dentist fix your dentures.
I guarantee you the pain will go away eventually if you don't give up. I guarantee you will be eating all kinds of things with your dentures on if you don't give up.
But this is why I was so thankful to have a dentist who basically lives down the street and why you might want to consider someone near you as well. Because you might have to visit them a lot and it's so much easier to get there for extra appointments if they're close to you.
Your Self-Image Will Change
This can be both a good and a bad thing at the same time.
On one hand, your dentures will be so beautiful. Your teeth will look better than they ever have before. Some people have teeth that look pretty bad before they get dentures, so this could be a huge confidence boost. For me, my teeth weren't that bad looking. If you looked closely, you could see some of the cavities in my front teeth, but most of my problem was in my gums or inside my teeth. A lot of my teeth were pretty much hollow.
But still, my new teeth are much prettier than my old teeth were. So I enjoy smiling more now.
On the other hand, when you take your teeth out, which you are supposed to every time to give your gums time to rest, you might feel disgusted with yourself and how you look. You might think you look older or gross in some way. Being without your teeth can make you feel very self-conscious.
So it can be a big adjustment. You might feel insecure a lot at first and probably hypercritical.
When I first got my dentures, I made a few mistakes.
First of all, I kept looking at myself in the mirror only when I was brushing my dentures, meaning, I was only looking at myself in the mirror whenever I didn't have any teeth in my mouth. It's very important that you look in the mirror and take pictures sometimes of your new smile with your teeth in. It helps you get through some of the hard times in the beginning to see how perfect these new teeth look and how much more people will probably like your smile now. You need that confidence and hope boost when you're in pain or struggling to eat.
Second of all, I was panicked by how my dentures looked. My gums were purple (I have very light colored skin, so this looked odd) and my teeth were too small for my mouth. I've always had small teeth, but suddenly, they felt ridiculous. I was doing that thing that I warned about earlier, where you can't expect perfect results with everything right away. You need to give it time.
I started crying because my gums were purple. It really didn't look that weird and my husband didn't even notice it until I pointed it out, but I was pretty hysterical about it. And from videos I've seen, there are a lot of people who don't love the way their dentures look...at first.
Turns out, I just needed to give it time to heal. The denture material for the gums was kind of see-through, so my gums only looked purple because my real gums were purple from blood and bruising. Once they started to heal, my gums looked normal and pink again.
And once the swelling went down in my gums, my "tiny" teeth looked bigger and more normal in my mouth. They no longer looked ridiculously tiny. You have to heal and the swelling has to decrease before you can see how your new teeth will truly rest in your mouth.
I've heard a lot of people get freaked out by the size of their teeth with their dentures at first, only to adjust to it later. Even people who show me their new smiles and look so beautiful that I'm jealous I've heard complain about their new teeth and how they look. Because they're not giving their mouths and themselves any time to adjust. They're also feeling extra critical and insecure about themselves.
Dentists take molds of your teeth before they make your dentures, not only so the dentures can fit against your gums better, but also so your new teeth can be similar in size and type to your old teeth (but without all the decay.) So you have to trust them some and give it time.
The benefit of getting temporary dentures if you can, at first, and then permanents later, is you can see if you adjust to the new teeth or not and if there is anything you still don't like after a few months, you can always change this.
This is true, even if you get your permanent dentures right away. People with dentures make the mistake of thinking they're "stuck" with problems too often because that's what it was like when you cracked a tooth. You were stuck with a broken tooth or you pulled it and got stuck with a hole.
Dentures aren't like that. With dentures, things can always improve. There's always the ability to adjust things or make a new denture.
So don't panic.
More People Than You'll Ever Know Wear Dentures
You Need Emotional Support
The best thing to have is people in your family or friends in person who support you. But that's not always possible or not always enough, especially if none of them have dentures because they'll have no idea what you are going through.
Let me tell you something awesome though...the internet has made it possible to connect with all kinds of people. A lot of those people are getting dentures soon or have dentures as well.
I don't recommend going to a dentist or doctor with most of your concerns. They can give you weird medical facts, but they don't have any experience with dentures themselves (probably) and will have zero ideas of how to comfort you. It's better to talk to people who are going through the same thing as you. They'll help you feel better.
The first thing I recommend is youtube videos.I've included some of them in this article, but there are a ton of people on youtube vlogging their entire dentures experience, from before they get dentures to a year or more afterwards.
And secondly, I recommend looking for supportive groups or hashtags on social media. I have two facebook groups that have helped me so much that I will link to below.