Dentures Fact Sheet

Making and Fitting the Dentures

Dentures are composed of artificial teeth bonded to a plastic base. The dentist makes an impression of the dental arch and remaining teeth (if any), using a special impression material. The colour and shape of the artificial teeth can be closely matched to your natural teeth.
The dentist will help you with these decisions. The dental laboratory uses the impressions and the dentist’s specifications to make the dentures.

Your dentist will advise you about how long to wear your new dentures each day. A few days or weeks are needed to become accustomed to the dentures.

Over the first few days:

  • the denture may feel tight and uncomfortable, the denture may feel bulky, as if crowding the mouth
  • your gums may feel sore
  • some people experience a gagging sensation at the back of the throat
  • you may notice an increase in the amount of saliva in your mouth
  • eat soft foods
  • speech may be affected but will improve. Wearers of partial dentures may find their speech improves immediately because missing teeth have been replaced.

Denture Adjustment

After some time the denture may feel loose and awkward. Your dentist can adjust the fit. This is done by placing an inner lining in the denture. Several adjustments may be required before the final fit is satisfactory for the longer term.

Over-denture and partial dentures usually need fewer adjustments than a full denture. People who have retained some natural teeth usually have less gum shrinkage and fewer changes in the underlying jawbone, so their dentures may retain a good fit for longer.

Loose dentures can cause irritation and ulcers of the gums that are painful and may become infected. If your dentures become loose, see your dentist to have them adjusted.

Do not try to adjust your own denture. It has been carefully made to fit your mouth. Home repairs will end up causing more harm than good.

Cleaning your dentures

Clean your dentures after each meal or at least twice a day. Remove them, and rinse away food particles with warm or cold water. Some people also like to use a mouthwash.

If you have a partial denture, be sure that you thoroughly clean it to reduce the risk of losing more teeth. Your dentist can show you how to use a toothbrush and dental floss correctly so you can efficiently remove food particles and plaque from remaining teeth.

Brush both the inside and outside surface of your dentures with a soft toothbrush and unperfumed, mild soap or other approved denture cleaner. Many good products are available in pharmacies and supermarkets. It is best to avoid the use of standard toothpaste as many brands are too abrasive.

Do NOT use:

  • Hot or boiling water because the denture will warp
  • Abrasives
  • Detergents
  • Bleaches
  • Methylated spirits
  • Other strong chemicals of any kind

Daily living with dentures

Insertion and removal

Your dentist will show you how to place and remove your dentures. Be sure you can do this properly before you leave the surgery. Never use force to remove a denture.

Comfort and adaptation

Even if you have worn dentures before, your new dentures may feel uncomfortable at first. Your mouth needs time to adapt to them.

Eating with dentures

Learning to eat with dentures takes practice and time. After the first few days of eating soft foods, you will want a wider range of foods. Cut food into small pieces, take small mouthfuls, and chew slowly. This helps to keep the dentures in place.

Avoid biting with the front teeth because this can cause the dentures to tip and may place excess pressure on the gums. Instead, bite with the canine teeth, the pointed teeth next to the front teeth.

Until you get used to sensing the temperature of hot food, treat hot food with caution. Avoid sticky food (such as toffee) and sharp or hard food, such as nuts or raw carrots.

As you gain confidence with your dentures, widen your diet to ensure healthy nutrition. Your dentist can advise you on maintaining good nutrition.


After the first week or two, most people find that dentures do not interfere significantly with speech. Sometimes certain words may be difficult to pronounce at first. It may help to repeat them aloud in front of a mirror.

If your dentures “click” when you talk, try to speak more slowly. If your dentures slip when you speak, bite down gently to reposition it and swallow. Your tongue and cheek muscles will soon learn to keep it in place. If you have a persistent problem with speech, inform your dentist.

Denture adhesive

Denture adhesive can give you added confidence that your denture will not slip out of place. Your dentist can advise you about which denture adhesives are likely to work well for you. Denture adhesive is not the answer to a poorly fitting denture. If it doesn’t fit well, see your dentist.


If soreness develops under a denture, call your dentist for an appointment. The denture probably needs to be adjusted. If the soreness worsens, remove the denture for at least part if the day. Before your appointment, wear the dentures for several hours. This will help the dentist determine where adjustment is needed.

Oral hygiene

Be careful to maintain good hygiene of your mouth. This is best done with wet towelling cloth, face washer or similar material.

Simply rub the gum tissue over which the denture fits, and also rub the top of the tongue. Your dentist will show you if you are in doubt.

Protect against breakage

Dentures are delicate and break easily. When cleaning a denture, hold it over a towel or a basin of water, to cushion the fall if you drop it. Brush them gently.

If you break a denture or damage the clasp of a partial denture, stop wearing it. Telephone your dentist for an appointment.

Do NOT glue the parts together because the wrong glue will permanently damage, or even ruin, the denture.
Do not bend or modify a clasp of a partial denture in any way as this could break it.

Overnight care

You should discuss with your dentist the advantages of removing your dentures before going to bed. Ideally, the dentures should be removed as this allows the gum tissues a chance to rest. Removal of full dentures also prevents grinding and clenching of the teeth which increase wear on them and other complications.

After cleaning the dentures thoroughly, place them in a special cleaning solution or water. Dentures should never be allowed to dry out as this can cause warpage.


Regular dental check-ups are a must for all denture wearers. Your dentist will examine your mouth to make sure your denture fits well and check any teeth that remain.

Visit your dentist immediately if you have sore gums or if a denture chips or breaks. Over time, dentures need to be remade due to normal wear.

Instructions for Immediate Dentures

For the fitting of immediate dentures, the dentist takes impressions of the remaining teeth and dental arch while the teeth are still in place. After the teeth have been extracted, the immediate dentures are placed in the mouth while you are still in the dental surgery. This helps to keep the swelling of gums to a minimum.

Following extractions, rapid changes in the gums take place as the gum tissue and jawbone heal to form a firm base for the denture.

During the healing period, you may need to visit the dentist several times for small adjustments. As immediate dentures cannot be tested in the mouth before the teeth are removed, the fit and appearance of the dentures may need to be adjusted.
The gums and jawbone take about three months to heal completely. During healing, the gums shrink and the fit of the immediate denture becomes loose. It then needs relining or possibly remaking. This is a good time to make changes to the aesthetics of the denture if you wish. The old immediate denture can be kept as an emergency spare.

Important points about immediate dentures

  • While the local anaesthetic is still effective in the hours after extraction, be careful that you don’t bite your tongue, lips or cheek.
  • Do not drink hot fluids for at least four hours after the extraction.
  • Your dentist will give you instructions as to when you should remove your dentures for cleaning. In most cases, this advice will be that you leave them in place for at least 24 hours. An appointment will be made for the dentist to remove your dentures, attend to any problems, and give you further instructions.
  • If bleeding occurs in the early stages, bite firmly on a clean handkerchief or cotton wool pad for 20 minutes. This will usually help to stop any bleeding.
  • Eat soft foods. Do not eat hard foods until advised by your dentist.
  • If the denture becomes loose, put it back into place immediately if you can do so without discomfort or the use of force. Keep pressing it into place with your tongue. If you are unable to replace your denture, rinse it and keep it wet in a plastic bag. Make an appointment with your dentist at once.
  • Five hours after the extractions, rinse your mouth gently, leaving the dentures in. Use a mouthwash of salt and lukewarm water (one-half teaspoon of salt in a glass of water). For the next few days, rinse regularly and gently with the salt water.
  • While the gums are healing do not smoke because it impairs healing. It is best to quit smoking.
  • If you have severe pain or other serious difficulties, telephone for advice or a further appointment.
  • Be certain to attend your review appointment because an adjustment is likely to be needed to improve the comfort of the dentures.