Many older adults use dentures 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 10% of older adults in Colorado have had all their teeth extracted? It pays off to understand the options available for natural looking dentures or tooth replacement.
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 have no natural teeth
Time Frames and Tooth Extraction When Getting Dentures
Just like teeth or fingerprints, dentures are unique to each and every individual. 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 and that oral and overall health can impact how quickly an individual can get their dentures after tooth extraction.
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 was wondering what a smile looks like during the process of getting dentures, rest assured that immediate dentures allow for natural looking teeth during the process. 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:
- Properly care for them
- Regularly visit the dentist to ensure they still fit
- Maintain a healthy diet
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, and tobacco use.
Diet and Dentures
Studies show that people missing teeth and people with 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. 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 a person’s dentures are loose, they may shift around in the mouth and cause discomfort. Overall, ill-fitting dentures decrease that person’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!
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