Denture wearers should consider the need for adhesives to keep their dentures stable and to have regular checkups.
BY: Eleanor Yap
Many seniors in Singapore are not aware that by using denture adhesives it can be a solution in making their dentures (also known as false teeth) stable and allowing them to eat different foods and giving them much needed self-confidence in public.
Food lodged in between
According to a Polident (by pharmaceutical and healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline) survey that was released earlier this year, which involved more than 1,000 denture wearers aged 15 to above 60 years (26 percent were above 50 years of age wearing partial or complete dentures), nearly two-thirds of denture wearers in Singapore had food lodged in their dentures after meals. Half of the wearers have avoided eating foods too hard to bite and chew, and as a result, could face health risks by not eating a balanced and complete diet.
Shared visiting dental expert, Professor Angus Walls of the UK: “As we loose teeth, our ability to chew food changes, making it more difficult to chew foods that are fibrous and hard. This results in changes in dietary choice to foods that are soft and wet which are easy to chew and swallow. Older people do not need to eat as much as the young, as they are less active and have less muscle mass, and this will result in them eating less food.
“However, the requirements for nutrients and vitamins do not change with age. Older people need food that is richer in nutrients and vitamins relative to calories as compared to younger people. The pulpy, wet, soft and slimy diet associated with tooth loss and ageing is low in nutrients. In serious cases, this can result in vitamin deficiency and malnutrition,” said Professor Walls.
He added that people who have few or no teeth rely on their dentures for function. “Denture adhesives can help to achieve greater stability for a denture thus giving the user more confidence to eat a varied diet.”
The study further noted that over a third of them suffered loose dentures. Because they do not hold or fit snugly, this can then lead to oral health problems such as gum disease, irritated gums, and injured tongue and cheeks, and worst still, at risk of heart disease. In serious cases, loose dentures can affect facial features and even the wearer’s voice, resulting in the loss of his or her self-confidence.
Sadly, because of problems such as the fear of their dentures falling out of their mouths when they are laughing, talking or eating in a public place, some wearers opt to stay at home and not socialise.
The Polident study also found that denture wearers refuse to listen to their dentists’ advice on oral hygiene for denture wearing. When advised to replace their dentures every seven to eight years depending on any changes to the dentures, many choose not to do so and it is not always because they cannot afford it. A full set of dentures can cost S$1,400 without subsidy and S$820 after subsidy, while partial dentures can range from S$300 to S$500 depending on complexity. For those who cannot afford to replace their loose dentures or choose implants, which can cost up to S$6,000 for a single tooth, an affordable alternative is denture adhesives to secure their dentures from moving about in their mouths.
Badly cleaned dentures
There is also an issue of seniors not cleaning their dentures well. If this happens, there is a high risk of fungal infections as well as ulcers. Another Polident study with 100 dentists in Singapore found that 27 percent of the dentists said that patients had complained of hygiene problems (second highest problem, after loose dentures), as the dentures were not cleaned properly and food debris was accumulated easily.
Here’s some advice for denture wearers:
1) Visit the dentist every year to assess the condition of your dentures as well as your mouth. Some of the symptoms of dentures needing to be replaced include changes in the shape of your gum or the quality of your denture worsens such as the surface wear and tear.
2) Use dental adhesives to enhance well-fitting dentures.
3) Do not use ordinary toothpastes, which can contain abrasives and can cause microscopic scratches to the dentures, which in turn can lead to bacteria. Use non-abrasive cleansing tablets that also kill odour-causing bacteria and plaque.
4) Do remove your dentures after each meal, and brush and rinse your dentures to remove food debris that gets stuck under your dentures. Clean with soap and water, and brush gently preferably using a denture brush.
5) You should remove your dentures at night to reduce incidences of denture stomatitis/thrush (a yeast/fungus which causes an infection in the mouth) and to let the mouth and gums rest while you sleep.
6) Do not attempt to alter your own dentures.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Dentures, fugue, stock.xchng)