Dentures – They Need Care Too
For residents in skilled and assisted living facilities dentures can improve their quality of life with a better appearance and ability to chew. There is often a misconception that denture wearers do not need to see a dental professional regularly, but, it is very important.
Mouth – Body Connection
The mouth is full a bacterium that has been associated with health concerns such as diabetes, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and aspiration pneumonia. Bacteria will populate in the oral cavity of someone with natural teeth, artificial teeth and even no teeth. Aspiration pneumonia accounts for up to 50% of all infections in nursing homes and is the leading cause of death from infection in patients aged 65 and older. Bacteria accumulated on unclean dentures can be aspirated into the lungs with the risk of aspiration pneumonia. Proper daily oral care and professional dental cleanings can reduce bacteria, lowering the risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Proper denture care is good for maintaining a healthy body, and it also prolongs the life of the denture. When dentures are not being worn, they should be soaked in a warm water bath to prevent drying and distorting of the denture. It is recommended that dentures be removed nightly to allowed time for the mouth to “breath”. Oral bacteria grow in warm moist environments, over wearing of dentures makes the wearer more susceptible to oral infections. Just like natural teeth, dentures should be brushed after meals to remove food debris and dental plaque using a denture brush and denture paste. Use a soft bristled toothbrush to clean the cheeks, tongue and roof of mouth before replacing denture. Only use products that are designed for denture maintenance. Using products meant for natural teeth can cause scratches, which leads to staining and break down of the denture. When removing or cleaning dentures over the sink, place a towel in the sink to decrease the risk of breakage if dropped. Visit a dental professional if the denture is broken or missing a tooth to properly repair the denture.
It is important to visit a dental professional to have dentures evaluated for proper fit. Over time bone structure may change, and during your preventive care visit, oral tissues will be evaluated for any abnormalities caused by changes in the fit of the denture. An oral cancer screening will also be performed on the head, neck and mouth to detect anything unusual. Dentures can be cleaned using specialized equipment and solutions to reduce bacteria and removed soft debris and tartar buildup.
Many skilled and assisted living homes now offer the convenience of in-house dental services to provide dental care in familiar, comfortable surroundings. Some of these providers can offer denture care services such as hygiene care, repairs, relines and new denture fabrication. Some residents have limited or no ability to carry out oral self-care to maintain good oral health. In-house dental services allow residents the opportunity to have more frequent visits, which decreases bacteria that is associated with inflammation in the mouth, as well as the rest of the body.
Senior Dental Care and Senior Smiles provide their participants with 2-6 hygiene visits per year. Residents that previously did not have access to dental care due to limited mobility now have access to dental services right in their place of residence. If your loved one is currently in a skilled or assisted living facility, ask if they offer in house dental care services and remember dentures need care too.