Dentistry is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity (mouth with all structures within including teeth, gums, tongue, etc.). As per World Health Organization (WHO), it is appropriately defined as the ‘art and science’ of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth. It is really an art as well as science which makes smiles better while also treating many diseases.
A dentist is a medical professional who aims to improve the quality of lives by preventing and treating oral diseases and conditions. The dentist's supporting team is also very important, and it aids in providing oral health services and also handling many procedures apart from assisting the dentist. It includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.
The dentists achieve the above by:
- Promoting good oral health practices and educating people about them
- Patient education
- Diagnosing dental diseases and conditions including dental decay, gum diseases, etc.
- They may also diagnose some general conditions by just looking at oral cavity, because some diseases and conditions have oral manifestations
- Providing preventive dental and oral care, like restoring slightly decayed teeth, covering them with thin layer of restorative materials, providing treatments to prevent further problems by cleaning, scaling, root planning, application of fluoride, etc.
- Prescribing appropriate medicines to treat some oral diseases, to prevent or allay infections, and for all three prophylactic, preventive and promotive purposes
- Treating and restoring decayed teeth by appropriate materials
- Replacing lost teeth by implants, dentures, partial dentures, etc.
- Treating other conditions of mouth, related structures and even jaw
- Also undertaking some surgical procedures, most common of them being tooth extraction
- Providing orthodontic treatment to adjust and correct mal-aligned teeth
- And many other functions as per further specialization.
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You’re not alone!
Please do not listen to friends who tell you how easy it was for them to get used to their dentures and how they can eat everything and anything. They are either bragging, have greater bone and gum support or their memories may be poor. Your dentist will help you through any difficulties you may face or any situations that may arise during your adjustment period.
A lower denture
A lower denture usually takes more time to adjust to than an upper denture. The tongue may feel restricted and will tend to play, sometimes even subconsciously, with the new prosthesis. It will soon adapt to the restrictions and to the new feeling that a denture presents.
Try to eat only soft foods for the first couple of days. Then, as you progress to more solid foods try to eat slowly and deliberately, attempting to place even amounts of food on both sides at the same time during the chewing cycle. By placing food on both sides of the mouth at the same time, you balance the biting forces on the new denture and will help to make it more stable. The longer you take to eat your meal, the faster you will learn to master your new prosthesis.
It is perfectly normal to experience some discomfort associated with sore spots during the adjustment period. Nature did not intend for us to wear hard plastic against soft gum tissue. It takes a while for the gum tissues to firm up and to accommodate to the hard plastic denture.
If sore spots should develop (and in some cases they do not), please be sure to wear the denture for at least 24 hours prior to your adjustment visit! If your dentist can’t see the sore spot visually, it is sometimes impossible for him to make the necessary adjustments.
An unclean denture is neither healthy, attractive or comfortable. Clean your new denture every morning and night with either a denture toothbrush and denture toothpaste (if necessary, any toothpaste can be used) or with one of the commercially available denture cleaners. Please be sure to check with your dentist to make sure that the commercial cleaner will not interfere with the type of denture liner you may have in your prosthesis. Permanent soft liners and temporary soft liners react poorly to most commercial cleaners.
We prefer that you leave out one or both of your dentures at night. This allows your gum tissues to breathe and also relieves them of the constant pressures of mastication. When left out of the mouth, all dentures should be left in water to prevent warpage.
Gum tissues are in a constant state of change but dentures are not. Therefore, periodic relining of your dentures may be necessary. If you find your denture getting looser and mastication more difficult, this may be a sign that a reline may be needed. It is very important for your dentist to see you regularly to evaluate the state of your oral tissues and to determine if additional treatment is required. Dentures typically need to be relined or remade every three to five years.
A Denture Wearer's Checklist
Dentures are not permanent. Changes continue to occur in the bone and soft tissues of your mouth.
Your initial adjustment period
- Leave dentures in for the first 24 hour period you will be scheduled for a 24 hours post insertion appointment.
- Feelings of fullness and increased salivation will decrease with time.
- Sucking on a piece of hard candy may help gagging sensation.
- Expect sore spots to develop during this initial adjustment period.
- Adjusting takes time read out loud to speed up the process.
- Muscles will need to be re–educated so they will retain the denture.
- The feeling of crowding of the tongue will decrease with time.
- Cut up food into small bite–sized pieces.
- Eating with food on both sides or your mouth may be helpful.
- Biting foods with your front teeth will tend to dislodge dentures and the underlying tissues.
- Avoid sticky foods.
Cleaning your mouth and your dentures
- Cleanse and massage your gums daily with a soft toothbrush.
- Brush dentures with a soft tooth brush and ordinary facial soap.
- Never use toothpaste to brush your dentures it is too abrasive.
- Soak dentures overnight in a commercial denture soaking solution.
- Do leave your dentures out at night while you sleep.
- Only use denture adhesives if your dentist so advises.
- Never attempt to adjust, repair, or re–fit your denture yourself.
- Do come in for regular checkups.