Adjusting to Life With Dentures
Our teeth get a full workout on a daily basis over the course of our lifetimes, and for many seniors there comes a point when dentures become necessary. Perpetual cavities and tender, swollen gums can present problems with eating and may lead to other health conditions.
How can Dentures Help?
Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth and the surrounding tissues. They can be customized to the individual depending on level of damage to existing teeth.
Complete vs Partial Dentures
Dentures can be incredibly helpful for seniors who have had oral health issues and have had some teeth removed because of injury or disease. Dentures can act as a replacement for just a few teeth or for an entire mouth’s worth. Either way, they can help seniors eat and talk more comfortably and can help them feel better about the appearance of their teeth and smiles.
Severe tooth and gum decay may result in the remaining teeth having to be removed, allowing for the gums to properly heal. A complete replacement is constructed and personalized to sit on top of the healed gums.
In other cases, only some of the teeth need to be replaced and a partial denture is constructed to blend with the remaining teeth on the upper and lower jaw. Partial dentures can be removable, attached with metal framework and plastic gums, or more permanent in the form of a bridge.
Adapting to the Challenges of New Dentures
Dentures can be helpful for seniors in multiple ways, but they can also be a little bit challenging to get used to. It can be difficult to adjust to the feeling of dentures, which never quite feel the same as natural teeth. However, with a little care and a few adjustments to daily routines seniors can grow accustomed to life with dentures and can reap all the benefits they have to offer in terms of oral and dental health and self-esteem.
Initial Adjustment Period
When it comes to breaking in a set of new dentures there are typically some challenges to overcome in the beginning. The sensation of wearing dentures might feel strange and a little uncomfortable until the mouth adapts and adjusts. They can also sometimes feel a little loose until the muscles in the mouth learn to accommodate the new apparatus and hold it in place. It is not uncommon to experience a little bit of discomfort or irritation at the start, but this should go away as soon as the mouth gets more acquainted and accustomed to the dentures.
Eating with Dentures
One of our favorite pass times and essential life practices will take some getting used to with a new set of dentures. Chewing and swallowing with dentures may feel a bit foreign at first, since there is now an inanimate object coming between you and your food. It is generally helpful to begin with soft foods that are in small, manageable pieces, and to chew slowly. Over time, it will become easier and more natural to chew with dentures and seniors can then gradually add in more foods to return to a normal diet.
Talking with Dentures
Talking can also feel and sound a little strange at the beginning and there will be a period during which some practice may be required to learn to speak comfortably with dentures. Seniors can practice reading or singing aloud to get in some practice, so they are more comfortable conversing with others.
Should there be any persistent problems in any of these areas beyond an initial settling-in period, always consult a dentist for assessment and advice.
Denture Care and Maintenance
Adjusting to having dentures will require adding some extra steps to daily routines. In order to stay happy and healthy, responsible care for the mouth and dentures is incredibly important.
- Brush Regularly: Just like with natural teeth it is essential to brush dentures daily to remove plaque and food residue.
- Soak: Dentures can dry out if left out in the air, so always be sure to keep them in a soaking solution or in water when they are not in use. They can also become contaminated when left to the elements, and should be soaked in a liquid denture cleanser for disinfection.
- Consult: Being proactive about consulting a dentist when problems with dentures occur is critical to prevent damage and maintain health.
As always, oral care itself is incredibly important for overall health. Brushing the gums, palate, and tongue everyday prepares the mouth for dentures and helps prevent infection. Learning to live with dentures can take some time to adjust, but dentures can contribute to improved comfort, self-esteem, and general health levels.