Dentures: How to prevent getting dentures, taking care of them and their current trends.
There are so many topics in dentistry that I can write about in this column since research is exposing more advanced techniques, materials and objectives in the field. This month I wanted the Shelby Township, Macomb, Sterling Heights and Clinton Township readership to become aware of the state of edentulous (without teeth) patient and the struggles they go through. It is also important to know that the percentage of people who have lost their teeth is increasing even though research is advancing. The problem with tooth loss is that the skeletal bone actually shrinks over time where the teeth have been extracted. Since dentures rest on the gums people who have dentures only can bite down 15-20% as hard as they could when they had teeth. This means that they have a limited assortment of soft foods they can comfortably eat which tends to not be as nutritious as harder foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
According to an Academy of General Dentistry article there are around 35 million Americans who have either 1 or 2 jaws of missing teeth and this number is expected to increase to 38 million by 2020. 26% of the US population between the ages of 65-74 do not have teeth. According to David Felton DDS, the demographic most at risk for dentures are lower education, smokers, females and a population who does not take daily vitamins or supplements.
Once thought that dentures were a normal age related event we now know it has a lot to do with genetics, nutrition, and oral hygiene. Those who are prone to tooth loss at an early age from cavities and periodontal disease are at a much higher risk for complete tooth loss and eventual dentures. Once a tooth is removed, the adjacent teeth move into the space creating gaps where food gets lodged, creating more problems and more tooth loss. This is why it is best to save teeth with root canal treatment if a tooth is infected rather than have it extracted. Having fillings done at an early enough stage prevents root canals or extractions.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. This bacterial induced disease is not painful and has little symptoms so it must be diagnosed and treated by a dentist before it is too late. If your gums bleed when brushing or flossing, if you have bad breath, if your teeth are loose, if there is swelling around the gums or you have tarter buildup then you more than likely have periodontal disease. Ignoring your problem won’t make it go away, in fact the sooner you are treated the better the outcome.
For those who have had their teeth already removed and have dentures there is hope for you. First of all, dentures have to be replaced or relined every 5-8 years. Because the bone that supports the denture continually shrinks it is very important that you maintain the best fit possible. When dentures are too loose they irritate the soft tissues and bone underlying the denture. With less biting pressure the diet only permits for softer foods to be eaten. Another factor not addressed much is the potential for an embarrassment moment when laughing with a denture and having it drop or even pop out of your mouth. With a good fit dentures provide confidence to be yourself and to smile and laugh without concern.
Assuming the dentures are made properly and fit relatively well, mini implants can be placed in one visit to provide a snap fit so the dentures are stabilized. These implant supported dentures continue to rest on the ridge, but since they hold tightly to the gums without adhesive, they don’t move. You can bite, chew and laugh without worrying that the denture will jump or fall out of place.
Here are some pointers on how to take care of your dentures:
- Don’t use tooth paste to clean them-This can scratch the surface and potentially promote staining and tarter build up.
- Make sure you remove them when sleeping. When removing the dentures at night the soft tissues to get access to body’s healing saliva of the mouth. When leaving in place thrush can develop. This reddish yeast infection can also be seen on the corners of the mouth.
- Soak your denture at night in Efferdent, Polident or other soaks.
- See your dentist every year for a denture fit analysis. The exam we do also provides for a cancer screening in addition to an analysis on your denture’s fit.
- Clean your dentures with a brush and a denture cleaning paste such as Denture Cream every day.
- Use a wash cloth to rub and stimulate the roof of the mouth, tongue and lower ridge. This prevents the build up of bacteria and yeast in the mouth. It is also prudent to rinse the mouth with a mouthwash such as Listerine or Crest Pro Health.
- If you don’t currently have a dentist you can contact our office at (586)247-3500 for a Free Denture Consultation. I will give you an honest opinion of your status. If you have dental insurance you should give us a call as soon as possible to take advantage of this benefit before year end.
I want to wish you and your family a Joyous Christmas and remember the reason for the season is the birth of Christ the King. He came to this earth because He cares so much for you and me that He gave His life for us on the Cross. May 2010 be Joy filled as we all go through these tough times together. We will prevail.
If you have questions please call the office at (586)247-3500, email me at DrAntolak@TheGentleDentist.com, write at 15055 22 Mile #2, Shelby Twp. MI 48315 or fax (586)247-1211. The more questions I receive the more I know what you are interested in as a topic. Thank You, Robert V. Antolak DDS
We at The Gentle Dentist provide Cosmetic, Implant and General dentistry. Our motto is “Relax while we take care of your smile”. For more information please visit our web site at www.TheGentleDentist.com