Drop your teeth (or jaw dropping) is a saying which means to be very astonished or shocked or to react with great surprise. And for those of you who have a removable dental appliance, dropping your teeth is probably quite alarming. Removable dental appliances include full (complete) dentures, orthodontic retainers, “flippers”, “bug” or unilateral partials, and removable partial dentures (both the mostly pink ones and the ones with metal frameworks).
You are more likely to drop your appliance while cleaning it because the water and cleanser make it slippery, but I have also heard of appliances falling out of a pocket where it is stored or being wrapped in a napkin or tissue and being tossed out accidentally.
For any removable dental appliance, a drop can cause a tooth on it to chip or break. The colored gumlike portion of it could chip or break also. These chips or breaks can be rough and bother your tongue or they could affect the seal or fit of your appliance. For appliances with a metal portion, there is also the chance of a broken or bent clasp arm or even a bent framework. These changes in the metal may make your appliance hard to wear or it may no longer fit. I have even had one patient who had a bad fall at work (while wearing her appliance) that damaged it enough that it no longer fit her!
What can you do to avoid dropping them?
Clean your appliance over a folded up soft towel or over a sink filled with water. Both will hopefully cushion the appliance if it does fall out of your hand.
When you are not wearing your appliance, it should be stored in a case or container designed for this purpose. (Remember, pets like to get hold of these appliances and chew on them so keep it somewhere where pets can’t get at it. Also direct sunlight or high heat can warp the appliance. In most cases dental appliances should be kept moist if you are not going to wear them. They are meant to be in a moist environment and drying out can make them warp too!) Do not wrap your appliance in a tissue or napkin—it’s too easy to mistake it for trash and toss it out! I’ve had two or three patients who have had hospitals throw out their teeth when they were left on a food tray wrapped in a napkin or tissue.
If you do drop your appliance, carefully check it for chips, cracks, or breaks. If you do have any, it is best to have the appliance professionally checked and repaired sooner rather than later.
*Note: Information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who repairs and makes partials and dentures. She is accepting new patients. Her office is located at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, Ohio. Schedule an appointment by calling 440-960-1940 or by using the contact form at www.drjrobb.com