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What You Need to Know Before Getting Dentures (From Someone With Full Dentures)

As someone who wears full dentures, E.B. Black learned there is a lot of false information out there. I hope to set the record straight.

Questions about what it's like getting dentures as a young person? Here, I share my experience.

Questions about what it's like getting dentures as a young person? Here, I share my experience.

I Got Full Dentures When I Turned 30: My Story

I was about 24 when I first found out I had horrible teeth. Six years later, after my teeth had deteriorated rapidly due to disease, I very obviously needed 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.

If you have bad teeth, you've probably heard all the lectures and unreasonable demands. For instance, 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. They threatened 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, and life has been a lot easier since then. I don't know why dentists want to terrify you by talking about dentures like it's the end of the world. It isn't. Don't listen to them.

I feel this giant sense of relief instead.

First of all, I never have 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, 100% 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 and other scary things? Yea, those things don't affect me anymore. I will never get another root canal. I'll never need a tooth pulled. I'll never have a cavity filled or an abscess cut open without numbing again. 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.

It's Normal to Feel Terrified and Sad About Getting Dentures

Pretty much everyone is scared or depressed before they 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 a dentist pulled them or they shattered when you tried to eat something. (The last tooth I shattered was a molar while I was chewing a piece of bread.)

I get it. You don't have much hope because you've seen things continually go downhill and you no longer believe there's a solution. But that's one of the amazing things about getting dentures that no one will tell you. Every day, you've fought a losing battle. . . but with dentures, you'll find that things reverse. You will suddenly have hope. Your mouth will no longer be deteriorating but improving.

Will You Regret Getting Dentures?

It is also a huge life change. You've no doubt been told by your dentist or others 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 advised against it. They said that at 30, I was too young for dentures and that I should keep trying other expensive dental procedures, even though they continually failed. 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 won't.) This is a conclusion I had to come to on my own and I don't regret my decision.

Still, huge life changes like this are terrifying, even if you're pretty sure that you need them.

These are my temporary dentures, which I'll be wearing for a full year.

These are my temporary dentures, which I'll be wearing for a full year.

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When Is It Time to Get Dentures?

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. 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, and/or
  • if your teeth are always at risk for breaking while you eat,

then 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 often die from tooth problems, especially those who are uninsured. A 24-year-old man died of a toothache because he did not have enough money for antibiotics. 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. There are people who are in pain all the time whose lives are at risk, 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.

The cup I soak my dentures in every night.

What to Expect When You First Get Dentures

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. Here's what to expect.

  • Your teeth will look great. Is it reasonable to expect your teeth to improve in appearance dramatically? Yes, your teeth will look perfect!
  • It'll be much easier to eat. 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.
  • You will learn to talk normally. Is it reasonable to expect to talk normally after you get dentures? Yes. It takes a while, but you'll get the hang of it.
  • Things won't be perfect overnight. 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.

Recovery Time

Some people I've talked to are very fortunate: Their good results are immediate, they don't have pain or swelling, and they can eat potato chips that same day. But most are like me and that's okay, too. I bled a lot. I was on pain relievers for weeks. I had to go to the dentist many times for adjustments and a reline and I couldn't even swallow at first without difficulty.

But I have learned. I've learned how to talk better and 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.

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.

When Will the Pain Go Away?

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 timetable 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.

My dentures with the soft reline (the light pink material on the top of the dentures).

My dentures with the soft reline (the light pink material on the top of the dentures).

Every Day Is Better Than the Last

The amazing thing is that after 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 was 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 difficult. There are fewer foods you can eat and fewer things that you can chew. You know it's only a matter of time before you shatter more teeth. You worry about the blood when you brush or floss. Every time you go to the dentist, you have even more reasons to be disappointed.

Life With Dentures

So the beginning of life with 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 at first. Like if you can't chew just after extraction, 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 had bad things happen to their teeth and had 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, not only can you eat those mashed potatoes, you'll 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 that you subconsciously still follow them, even though you don't need to. Like, I was so scared to chew on the right side of my mouth when I was first learning how to chew. That was always my worst side, and all my molars were hollow there. 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 post-dentures, even though those teeth were gone and I had new, better teeth, I was still terrified that it would hurt if I chewed on the right side of my mouth. I forced myself to do it, but it was scary.

In the same way, it's been scary trying to eat foods that used to hurt me in the past. I keep expecting to be moaning in pain, but that never happens now that my gums have adjusted to the dentures. There are some things that I can't 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 enough to swallow so far (and that will probably change—like I said, every day gets better!). But the point is the pain is gone.

The toothbrush I use to brush my dentures (very different from my old one).

The toothbrush I use to brush my dentures (very different from my old one).

Denture Toothbrush - Much Gentler On Dentures And Easier To Use Than A Normal Toothbrush

Can You Tell I'm Wearing Dentures?

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 my teeth are fake now. No one notices and no one cares.

My husband has bad teeth 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 for him and was howling in pain. My heart ached when 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.

8 Tips for People Getting Dentures

1. Don't Underestimate the Importance of Staying Positive

What will help you the most during recovery 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 was scared that people would think I was a monster without my teeth if they saw me.

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!

2. Don't Wait

I vacillated for a year. I kept thinking, "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 why I put myself through all that pain any longer. 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.

3. Use a Local Dentist and See Them Often

Again, one of the mistakes people make 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.

But every time I came back, things were better. Especially with my first relines. I was able to eat normally immediately afterward.

4. You Will Need Adjustments

One of the reasons people hate their dentures is because they accept whatever they get 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 not going to fit well. 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), you can go somewhere else and have a different dentist make adjustments. I guarantee the pain will go away if you don't give up. I guarantee you will be eating all kinds of things with your dentures 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.

4. Your Self-Image Will Change: Be Prepared

This can be both a good and a bad thing at the same time. On one hand, your dentures will be so beautiful, and your teeth will look better than they ever have before. Some people 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 give your gums a rest), you might feel disgusted with 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.

5. Focus on the Gains, Not the Losses

When I first got my dentures, I made a few mistakes. I kept looking at myself in the mirror only when I was brushing my dentures, meaning I was only looking at myself when I didn't have any teeth in my mouth. It's very important that you look in the mirror and take pictures 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. You need that confidence and hope boost when you're in pain or struggling to eat.

6. It Will Look Bad. . . at First (Purple Gums and Too-Small Teeth)

At first, I was panicked by how my mouth looked. When I saw my purple gums (I have very light-colored skin, so this looked odd), I started crying. 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. The 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, they looked normal and pink again.

Also, my new teeth felt too small for my mouth. I've always had small teeth, but suddenly, they felt ridiculous. But once the swelling went down, 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.

I was doing that thing that I warned about earlier, expecting perfect results right away. You need to give it time. Most people don't love the way their dentures look. . . at first. Turns out, I just needed to give it time to heal. 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.

7. There's Always Room for Improvement

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, and if there is anything you still don't like after a few months, you can always make adjustments. 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 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. But dentures aren't like that. With dentures, things can always improve. So don't panic.

8. You Will Need Emotional Support

The best thing to have is people who support you, but that's not always possible or not always enough, especially if they don't have dentures themselves, because they'll have no idea what you are going through. I don't recommend going to a dentist or doctor with most of your concerns. They can give you medical facts, but they likely don't have any personal experience with dentures themselves and will have no idea of how to comfort you.

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. It's better to talk to people who are going through the same thing. They'll help you feel better.

Where to Find Support

The first thing I recommend is Youtube. I've included a few helpful videos here, but there are a ton of people vlogging their entire dentures experience, from pre-extraction to a year or more afterward. Secondly, I recommend looking for support groups on social media. I have two Facebook groups that have helped me so much that I will link to below.

Facebook Support Groups

  • Dentures Before/After Support Group
    This page was created for the purpose of support and the sharing of information by its group members who currently have or will be getting dentures.
  • Dentures At A Young Age
    Dentures are not only for old people. A lot of young people have them as well. Here is a place where you can share your experience with others who are in...
  • Dentures woman
    This is a support group for women who wear dentures, so that we support each other. As you can see this group is exclusively for women.
  • Denture Support: We Are Here To Help, Before And After
    We created this group for one simple reason; to support and rally around our brothers and sisters in the Denture world. We all know it can be very...

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 EB Black

Comments

Ellen Perry on September 11, 2020:

Thank you for posting this. I'm having my extractions in 3 days. It's a relief to know all the positives. I've been thinking about it for over 2 years. My teeth have always been a problem. I feel like now is the right time. I will definitely check out the FB groups. I'm glad it worked out well for you.

Betty Kirschbaum on September 04, 2020:

Thank you for this article! I’m2 weeks in and having several issues. This is encouraging- I hope to be wearing my dentures more every day.

Megan on August 11, 2020:

Incredible post ! Thank you

Tara Sears on June 27, 2020:

Thank you so much for all of this information. I had all my teeth pulled on Monday and got dentures the same day. The pain has been something else but getting better slowly but surely. The worst pain has been like the sores/ulcers on the bottom part of my mouth.

Linda Courtney from Bloomsburg, PA on February 17, 2020:

Thanks for this article. I've had an upper denture since I was 24yo as I had bad weak teeth like you. I'm 62yo now. I just recently got a lower denture after the thousands of dollars in crowns went downhill. The upper denture was easy to get used to, but this lower is not so hot. It's been 4 months though and I'm getting a reline in a couple weeks. I'm hoping that helps. Right now I cannot eat harder, firmer foods or sandwiches (which I really love). Thankfully my dentist was onboard with the dentures and did not try to disuade me. They did push implants though which I just couldn't afford. Great article and hope it helps someone who's thinking about it.

EB Black (author) from U.S.A. on November 25, 2019:

@Red: I am so happy for you! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

Red on November 25, 2019:

To all of you wanting dentures, do it. I just got an upper denture (bottom teeth are still well enough to keep) and I am thrilled! The first week after was hard for me. I drive for my job so I couldn’t take the Norco prescribed to me. But after that it started to get so much better so fast. Also, get the seabond adhesive that covers the whole denture plate. It makes it far more comfortable during the healing process. A bit of cushion. This is my healing denture, I will get a permanent denture after I finish healing. I put off the consultations and procrastinated. Now I wish I hadn’t. Life is better, and I can smile again! Eating solids takes a bit. I’m finally up to soft muffins, and scrambled eggs! When you schedule it, see if they’ll give you something for anxiety. Mine prescribed me Valium to take an hour before the appointment. I don’t remember most of the appointment. Mine doesn’t knock you out for it. So that’s another good thing to check.

Chip on July 25, 2019:

I found your posting to be a relief for me. Thank you

Deborah on July 21, 2019:

Thank you for your story! It made me feel so much better! It also took me over a year to get my upper denture. A lot of pain and agony. Finally, this past Friday the last of my upper teeth were pulled and my temporary denture went in. Even though I was swollen , when my dentist handed me a mirror to look, I cried! I haven’t had a beautiful smile in so long! Thanks for giving me hope that right now it seems so painful and scary but I know things will get better. Thanks for the boost!! Deborah

EB Black (author) from U.S.A. on June 26, 2019:

If it helps, temporary dentures fit everyone badly because they are not molded to your mouth. But dentures can always be remade or refitted and the better they fit, the easier they are to eat with.

Like, it's been years since I wrote this article and my dentures no longer fit the way they used to. But I can still eat the majority of things and I know that once I get my insurance back, I can get a reline or get a new dentures (when they will cover it) and they will fit even better and I can eat even better again.

Dentists are very pessimistic about this stuff and I get it. It's not the same as having your natural teeth, but it's so much better than the damaged, disgusting teeth and they really should point that out more so we can feel more happy and more positive about our dentures.

Instead of being terrified and avoiding getting them.

Rachael Tomlinson on June 24, 2019:

I am so pleased I have found you I have had the majority of my teeth extracted just 6 left top and bottom, I had to put off the final extractions as I had to move suddenly but now I am so nervous of having the rest taken out and the temporary dentures fitted but I really need to do something as my mouth is so uncomfortable and I am struggling to eat.

My biggest scare is my dentist has really laid it on thick that I am going to struggle with the dentures so I have kind of got myself into that mindset now and don't know what to do next, I am also conscious that my temp dentures have been made some time now so my gums will have settled more from when they where originally done.

Stephanie on April 24, 2019:

Thankyou for this article. I feel better now knowing im not alone. I just got my top done 6 days ago. And i keep telling myself it will get better. Im young woman and felt like im the only one

Virginia Hyman on March 19, 2019:

Nice explanation, I'm 5 days post extraction and still black and blue. I had a rough procedure of grinding down bones for my dentures to fit properly. It's still worth it ti me not to worry about tooth pain and further emergency dental visits. I think the dentists who advise against dentures have never had a toothach that makes you want to pull your hair out and scream.

Amy on February 04, 2018:

Thank you so much for posting this. I found this just after I scheduled my procedure. It really helped me a lot. It was great to hear a younger person's point of view (I'm only 40) and your outlook was exactly what I needed to hear. I am now almost 3 weeks post surgery. Not quite where I can eat real food yet, but I am ok with my progress because I know it will get better. My goal is to be eating real food with little issue by spring break (we are going to L.A.!) Thank you again!