Dentures are an alternative many older adults utilize after tooth loss. If you or someone you love has lost some teeth over the years, you’re not alone. Did you know that almost 6% of older adults in Hawaii have had all their teeth extracted? It pays off to understand the options available for natural looking dentures or tooth replacement. If you or someone you love is wondering, “What do dentures look like?” or “How will dentures change the way I look?” we have the answers.
Missing teeth are one of the most common dental problems that older adults face.
- “178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth.
- About 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth.
- 30 percent of adults between 65 and 74 years old have no natural teeth.”
Other common oral health problems that arise as we age include dry mouth and decreased salivation. These oral health concerns are directly associated with lowering a person’s quality of life. That means having dentures can actually make a person’s quality of life better! We’ll explain why and share tips for those considering dentures for new denture wearers.
Time Frames and Tooth Extraction When Getting Dentures
Just like teeth or fingerprints, dentures are unique to each and every individual. Oral and overall health both impact how quickly an individual can get their dentures after tooth extraction. Conventional dentures are a full set of dentures molded to custom-fit your mouth. These are made to fit the patients’ mouth after healing takes place. It’s important to remember that the healing process is individual and can take several months. Your oral health plays a large role here.
After healing, it usually takes the dentist a few visits (about four weeks) to fit and adjust dentures so they feel comfortable and natural. Because this can leave people without teeth for weeks or months, immediate dentures are available for wearing the same day that tooth extraction is done. Dentures can also be made to fit over implants for a much more secure fit. If you or your loved one is wondering what a smile looks like during the process of getting dentures, rest assured that immediate dentures allow for natural looking teeth. For more details on types of dentures, click here.
Habits to Avoid if You Wear Dentures
Habits are something to take into consideration when contemplating if dentures are right for you or your loved one. Dentures require that you:
- care for them properly every day,
- ensure they continue to fit by visiting the dentist regularly,
- maintain a healthy diet that your dentures can handle.
When considering dentures, it’s very important to discuss how oral health plays a role in the journey to wearing dentures. Because oral and overall health will impact healing periods, be sure to inform your dentist of any health conditions and medications you are taking.
It’s important that your dentist is aware of your history with tobacco. Smoking can increase complications and reduce the success rate of all dental implant procedures, which is why it’s important to stop tobacco use, even if your usage is limited to e-cigarettes or a smokeless form. It’s especially important to do so before getting dentures. It’s up to the dentist to decide if tobacco use puts an individual in a high-risk situation for implant-supported dentures.
Diet and Dentures
Studies show that people with missing teeth and poor oral health often experience malnutrition due to trouble chewing and swallowing. This can lead to severe energy and nutrient deficiencies. People with chewing problems often don’t have teeth and, as a result, they “avoid fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and even raise sugar and fat consumption to levels above recommendations.”
After dentures are fitted, more nutrition can and should be added back into the diet that were previously left out. By adding more vegetables and healthy meats to meals, a denture wearer can increase their nutritional intake. Eating a more balanced diet can give you a healthier appearance and support muscle mass, too.
In addition to helping you or someone you love become healthier, dentures can also fill out the face and smile. In addition to adding teeth to the smile, “dentures can help fill out the appearance of your face and profile.” When complete tooth loss occurs, facial muscles lose support and can sag, making you look older. Because dentures are made to fit, they can help restore your natural smile.
The Fit of Dentures
At first, like a retainer or braces, wearing dentures will take some time to feel normal. Your cheek and tongue muscles will need some time to learn to keep your new dentures in place, so don’t worry if they feel awkward initially. Minor irritation or soreness is not unusual. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases. Because older adults experience decreased salivation, their mouths don’t get the lubricationit needs sometimes, which can lead to cavities and decay. An increased amount of saliva will help the mouth adjust to the new dentures and will keep food particles from getting stuck under the dentures.
The appearance of dentures will vary depending on how they fit. If your dentures are loose, they may shift around in the mouth and cause discomfort. Overall, ill-fitting dentures decrease one’s quality of life. In fact, “individuals with ill-fitting dentures self-reported a significantly lower use of professional dental services, higher degree of oral function limitations, and significantly increased levels of poor health and depression.” It’s critically important that dentures are properly fitted to the mouth and denture wearers continue to visit the dentist. Implant-supported dentures may be the best option whether you have a history of ill-fitting dentures or you are a first-time denture wearer. It’s for your health and your happiness! Dentist visits are a priority, as is your dental hygiene.
Here are more of our tips for avoiding problems with the appearance and longevity of your dentures.
Avoiding Problems with the Appearance of Dentures
- As soon as you feel soreness from dentures, book an appointment with your dentist to ensure they’re fitting the best they can. The dentist can offer a soft, gum-like material to cushion in the meantime.
- While adjusting, nutrition shakes can help as a meal replacement to ensure you’re staying healthy, but not putting any extra pressure on your mouth.
- Remove dentures for about four hours a day or overnight and store in denture solution or water. This will help it preserve its shape, and allow the soft tissues of the mouth to remain healthy.
- Denture cream is helpful when used properly. A small amount can be used to seal a denture, but don’t use it as a crutch for ill-fitting dentures. Products with the ADA Seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
- Proper oral health is a must. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive denture cleaner to brush all surfaces, on the inside and outer surfaces of the dentures. Don’t forget to rinse your mouth thoroughly, too!
About 25% of 40.3 million older Americans no longer have any natural teeth. One reason why people don’t get dental care as they age is due to lack of dental insurance. Set yourself or your loved one up for success with an individual plan from Hawaii Dental Service. Maintain smile health at every age by ensuring quality dental benefits are available to support a healthy dental care routine. Contact us for more information.
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