How to Extend the Life of your Dentures
The average set of dentures lasts for 5 years and costs approximately $1,500 to $3,000, equating to around $600 a year or $50 a month. That might not seem like a lot of money when you break it down, but it’s more than a top-of-the-range medical alert system. It’s more than the cost of a Netflix, HBO Max, Disney, and Apple TV subscription combined. If you’re trying to save as many pennies as you can (and aren’t we all?) that’s a lot of money to spend.
But if you can extend the life of those dentures to 7 years, which is still a very reasonable length of time, then that price drops to around $35 a month, and at 10 years, it’s just $25 a month. The goal, therefore, is to make those dentures last as long as you possibly can. Not only will this save you a lot of money, but it’ll also limit those uncomfortable visits to the dentist.
With that said, let’s look at the things that you can do to extend the life of your dentures and ensure that those false teeth last for many years to come.
Buy The Best
Counterintuitively, one of the best ways to save money over the long-term is to spend more in the short-term!
If you’re spending just a few hundred dollars on dentures, you’re likely getting something that looks fake, isn’t very strong, and is made of materials that will fall apart under the slightest pressure. You’re going to feel pretty terrible about them, won’t wear them as much or clean them as often, and you’ll be desperate to swap them for something better.
On the flip side, if you drop $2,000 on a sparkling set of high-quality dentures, you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep them that way. You’ll clean them, care for them, and wear them every day. The result is that you’ll get more use out of them and will still be wearing them many years after the cheap set would have been discarded.
The law of diminishing returns sets in pretty quickly here, which is to say that a $1,000 set might be twice as good as a $500 set, but $4,000 won’t get you twice the quality as $2,000. Make sure your money is going toward buying the best possible dentures, as opposed to just going to a dentist who has celebrity clients or lives in a sought-after zip code.
Visit a Good Dentist
Just because you’re giving a lot of money to a dentist doesn’t mean you’re getting the best product or service. Do your research, check online reviews, and see what other patients are saying. It doesn’t matter if they have been your dentist for years and know your cats’ names and your golf handicap—unless you have experience of being fitted for dentures, none of that matters.
They might do a terrible job, after which you discover that you’re not the only one in town with fake teeth that look like they were made for a horse. It’s great to be friendly with your dentist, but all the small talk in the world won’t make up for wasting $2,000 on something that looks like it should be sold in a Halloween store.
The internet has made it easier than ever to find experienced, qualified, and affordable dentists. You can even compare their prices and get a few different quotes. Not only will this ensure you get a great service and a premium product, but it also makes life easier for you when you need to return for re-alignments.
Clean with XODENT
Just because your teeth are fake doesn’t mean they won’t accumulate bacteria. They still attract plaque and it can still create a host of problems, including bad breath and inflammation. To prevent these issues, and to keep your dentures clean and fresh, you need to remove them every night and clean when with a denture cleaning solution like XODENT.
Our kits come with dental baths and denture tablets, giving you everything that you need to clean your precious teeth. Just pop them into one of the denture baths, fill with warm water, and add a tablet before you go to bed. The next morning, after they have had a good long soak, you can brush away any remaining debris, give them a rinse, and then wear them.
You should also brush your gums before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning. You don’t need to be as vigorous as you do with real teeth and you should definitely refrain from using whitening toothpaste and other potentially harmful abrasives, but they still need to be brushed.
Simply wet a toothbrush, place a tiny dab of toothpaste on the end, and lightly brush your gums. This helps to remove any plaque that has accumulated there and will prevent it from growing and giving you bad breath. It also stimulates blood flow, which promotes healing and combats inflammation.
You may have been told that it’s wrong to rinse your mouth after brushing, and that’s true if you have real teeth as you need the fluoride to work its magic, but it doesn’t apply here. You can rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing to remove all traces of toothpaste and clear away any food particles that remain.
Mouthwash can help, but refrain from using alcohol mouthwash. It is a strong anti-bacterial, but it will also dry out your mouth and that’s not what you want just before you go to bed.
You can brush your gums in the morning as well, although a rinse with mouthwash (alcohol mouthwash is fine here, providing you don’t suffer from chronic bad breath and/or dry mouth) is usually all that you need.
Rinse and Brush
Food particles can become lodged inside your dentures and the longer they remain there, the more ingrained they will become and the more damage they will do. After all, those particles will still feed the bacteria and produce acid, only instead of hurting your enamel, they will attack your gums and dentures.
To fix this problem, simply remove your dentures after eating and give them a thorough rinse with warm water. You should rinse your mouth as well, as it will also likely be harboring problematic food debris.
If you have eaten a meal with sticky, starchy, or fibrous foods, including French fries, chips, candies, and meat, you can use a soft-bristled brush to remove any stubborn pieces of food.
Never use a hard-bristled brush, don’t scrub too hard, and refrain from using hot/boiling water and toothpaste on your dentures. Toothpaste can scratch your false teeth and hot water can warp the fittings.
Treat Them Like they are Vulnerable
Many denture wearers are seniors who have struggled with the effects of aging and conditions like gum disease and tooth decay. They generally take good care of their teeth, but their diet, lifestyle, and age ultimately catch up with them and they are forced to make the switch.
As they generally did what they could to clean their teeth and keep them throughout their life, those same habits are adopted when they first get fitted for dentures. They understand how vulnerable these false teeth are, and so they do what they can to keep them strong and healthy for years to come.
But then there are those who see false teeth as a cop-out, and this is when things become problematic.
If you lost all of your teeth because of poor dental hygiene or lifestyle choices, don’t assume that you can treat dentures as some kind of indestructible and easily replaceable alternative.
In fact, dentures are much weaker and more fragile than real teeth. They are just as exposed to bacteria and plaque and if you start opening bottles with them or using them to chew ice, they will almost certainly crack and chip.
In our guide to Celebrities that Wear Dentures, we talked about Jackass star Steve-O, who has gone through several sets of false teeth during his life. He wears crowns and not dentures, but the idea is the same.
He had fake teeth fitted because of what he admits was very poor dental hygiene, leading to his teeth becoming rotten and his gums diseased. But because he continued with those poor habits, the fake teeth needed to be replaced as well.
If you want to prolong the life of your dentures, you need to remember that they are not indestructible and are actually more vulnerable to harm than real teeth.
Handle with Care
As fragile as dentures are when they are in your mouth, they’re even more exposed outside of it. You need to handle them with care, lest you expose them to harm.
Keep them out of reach of children. Your grandkids might find those false teeth to be somewhat of a weird and disgusting novelty at first but leave them within their eye line for long enough and they’ll eventually start poking around. Before long, they’ll be prodded with sticky fingers and you’ll find them covered with peanut butter, fluff, and god knows what else.
The same applies to pets. Dogs and cats love anything that smells of their owner, and they won’t think twice about chewing them or batting them around like a toy.
Make sure you keep them in a case and put that case out of the way. Always place them inside gently and never leave them to dry out on nightstands or to accumulate dust on dirty windowsills.
Your dentures might survive a little mishandling and even a drop or two, but if you keep mishandling them and dropping them; if you keep exposing them to harm, they’ll eventually weaken and break.
Pay Attention to How They Feel
Dentures aren’t supposed to feel loose. You shouldn’t need to use copious amounts of denture adhesive just to keep them in place. If they don’t feel right, then something needs to be done about it.
We all avoid the dentist from time to time, whether it’s because we have a chipped tooth that we can’t afford to fix or a toothache that we’re too scared to remedy, but it will only make the situation worse. In that sense, dentures are no different from real teeth.
If you ignore a minor issue today, it could become something much bigger and costlier in a few weeks or months.
Furthermore, if your dentures were only recently fitted, then your dentist has a duty of care to make sure they fit properly. It’s not necessarily their fault if they don’t fit, though, as your gums can change shape after teeth are extracted and dentures are fitted.
Your mouth will also change shape over the years. Once your teeth have been removed, you will begin to experience steady bone and tissue loss, and these issues are compounded with age. It means that even if your dentures were fitted perfectly and cost a lot of money, you may still feel them loosening after a few months.
To avoid any issues in this department, just make sure you’re aware of how the dentures feel and how they fit in your mouth. If something doesn’t feel right, whether they are a little loose or causing inflammation and oral sores, you need to get on the phone to your dentist and book an appointment!
Staying hydrated is more about keeping your mouth healthy than limiting damage to your dentures, but a healthy mouth will also indirectly affect your dentures. After all, inflammation, gum disease, bone loss, and other such issues can cause your dentures to lose suction and move around in your mouth. In the beginning, denture adhesive will help you to secure them in place, but if you keep neglecting your oral health, even that will have its limits.
Hydration is key for several reasons. Firstly, you need saliva to neutralize acidity and bacteria. Secondly, saliva acts as a natural lubricant and will also aid with suction and even improve the stickiness of denture adhesive.
Finally, if you’re not producing enough saliva, you will be more prone to the effects of GERD, when acid escapes your stomach and works its way up your esophagus. If you have a dry mouth, you will be more prone to a host of oral health issues, including bad breath.
Seniors suffer from dry mouth more than any other age demographic and they are also the most likely to wear dentures, so these things go hand in hand.
As we age, the body becomes less efficient at holding onto water and signaling thirst. Seniors are also more likely to take medications than younger adults, and a huge number of commonly prescribed meds are known to cause dry mouth.
Opioid medications, for example, are often prescribed for chronic pain, and if you’re over the age of 70, there’s a good chance that you’ve had several prescriptions for these medications in the past. In fact, if you’re like the average 70+ year-old, you probably have a bottle or two in your medicine cupboard.
Opioids dry out the mouth, significantly reducing saliva production. Unlike other medications, where the side effects are experienced in only a small percentage of users, the vast majority of opioid users suffer from this adverse reaction. You may notice that your dentures slip and slide more often than expected, your breath smells worse than it should, and you have a horrible taste in your mouth every morning.
All of these things are caused by dry mouth as the only way to combat them is to stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day and if you’re still suffering, speak to your doctor about reducing or changing your medication. You should never stop your meds without consulting with a doctor first, as they’re prescribed for a reason.
Chewing gum is often a great way to stimulate saliva production and can be useful for people who suffer from medication-related dry mouth. Most chewing gum brands are not recommended for denture wearers, as they have a tendency to stick, but Freedent was specifically designed for this purpose.
It’s a chewing gum brand that we have discussed a few times on this blog, and one that has a large following among denture wearers. Freedent advertises itself as a sugar-free, non-stick chewing gum, and it has been around since the 1970s. There are three flavors to choose from and all can help to stimulate the flow of saliva while giving you some practice using those false teeth!
Summary: Keeping Your Dentures for a Decade
As you can see, there are many subtle ways that your dentures can be compromised, some of which might not have even crossed your mind. But if you continue cleaning them every night and make sure they receive the same level of care on the 1,000th day as they did on the 1st, you’ll be able to wear those gleaming pearly whites for many years to come.