The Simple Signs That You Need Dentures (The Good, the Bad, and the Disgusting!)
Dentures are not the reserve of the elderly. These carefully fitted false teeth can restore your smile at any age. The question is not how old you should be but what signs you should look out for. These signs can present at any time and for any number of reasons.
If you're wondering when it's time to consider dentures and what the early signs are, keep an eye out for the following sign
1. Your Gums are Red, Swollen, and Bleeding
Gum disease is responsible for approximately 70% of tooth loss in adults. It presents with a host of symptoms, including red and swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss. The good news is that gum disease can be prevented and treated; the bad news is that the damage it causes cannot.
If you notice specks of blood when you brush or floss, you may have the early signs of gum disease. Pay attention to your gum line after flossing and look for pink/red tints to the water when you rinse.
More often than not, these issues can be fixed by increasing your brushing and flossing. This will keep bacteria levels down and remove any plaque that has formed. A visit to your dentist can help, as well. They will scrub away any tartar that has formed on your teeth, paying extra attention to the gum line.
Tartar is a tough substance that forms as a mixture of plaque and naturally occurring minerals. It can't be removed by brushing alone and needs to be cleaned using a tool known as a scaler.
2. You Have Multiple Missing Teeth
Dentists don't waste a lot of time trying to save molars and even premolars. Unless you have a particularly wide smile, you won't even know these teeth are missing. However, the more of these that you lose, the more the problems mount, and if you add some canines or incisors to the mix, it becomes very noticeable.
At this point, it's possible to lose just a handful of teeth and yet still have many problems with eating and aesthetics. When this happens, you may want to consider partial dentures. And if the rest of the teeth are damaged or decayed, your dentist may recommend that they are pulled and replaced by a full set of dentures.
3. It's Difficult to Eat
If you find yourself eating on one side and avoiding certain foods, it could be a sign that you will need dentures in the near future.
Unless those chewing problems are caused by short-term toothache, it could be a sign of gum disease, decay, and very sensitive teeth, all of which indicate poor dental hygiene and suggest that the teeth are not as healthy as they should be.
Sensitivity, for instance, is often dismissed as just bad luck—something that you can't control. But it is actually the result of many small and often imperceptible fissures, as well as exposed roots, broken fillings, and more.
You are more likely to suffer from these issues if you don't pay attention to dental hygiene or visit the dentist as regularly as you should. And in such cases, the risk of needing dentures increases substantially
4. Your Gums are Receding
Your gums are there to protect your teeth. As they wear away, the roots of your teeth become exposed and leave you more prone to infections, decay, and disease. Everything from tartar build-up to diabetes and hormonal changes can cause receding gums and symptoms such as:
- Excessive bleeding when flossing or brushing
- Pain around the gum line
- A shrinking gum line
- Bad breath
- Exposed roots
When the situation worsens, you may notice that your gums are much shorter than they used to be and that your teeth look longer and thinner as a result.
Your teeth may also be loose. This is a sign that the gums have receded so much that they can no longer hold your teeth in place. At this point, you desperately need to see a dentist. They will look at treating as much of the disease as possible, before recommending solutions such as implants or dentures.
5. You Smoke
Smokers don't have it easy. The risk of heart disease, cancer, and a host of other issues increases significantly for long-term smokers, but that's not all. Smoking also impacts dental health, increasing the build-up of tar, and reducing blood flow, which causes a host of problems.
If you've been smoking for over 20 years, there's a good chance you have already noticed some of the effects, including receding gums and stains that won't go away. Obviously, quitting cigarettes should be your first step, but you should also visit your dentist and inquire about treatments.
They can perform a scale and a polish to remove tartar from your enamel, after which you can purchase a whitening solution to clean the dentin underneath. The reason endless brushing and whitening strips don't turn your teeth from yellow/black to white is because many of those stains occur underneath the enamel, while others are too tough for bristles alone.
6. You Suffer from Indigestion
Frequent indigestion is one of the more unusual signs that you need dentures. There are many potential causes, including medication side effects, spending too much time lying down, and eating frequent and large meals. However, one of the side effects is swallowing large chunks of food that have not been properly chewed.
This could occur as a result of dental decay and other oral hygiene issues. When people experience pain in their gums or teeth, they spend less time chewing, which means they swallow bigger pieces of food.
This can be hard on the digestive system and the food may become trapped, leading to chronic feelings of indigestion, as well as issues such as acid reflux.
As your problems worsen, it's easy to overlook the cause. Minor issues turn to habit and before you know it, you're eating on one side and swallowing large chunks of food without even realizing it. Usually, however, this is not the only symptom and you may experience everything from nerve pain to bleeding gums and more.
7. You Want a Better Smile
Dentures aren't something you're forced into. Nobody is ripping your teeth out and forcing a fake smile into your mouth and $2,000 out of your wallet. It's something you choose, and you can make that choice at any age and for any reason.
You can think of veneers in much the same way. Many people choose to have one or two veneers fitted when their teeth become damaged or decayed. The dentist will grind the tooth down and add a synthetic cap, restoring their smile in a way that looks natural. But if that veneer falls out or is removed, the damaged tooth is exposed underneath.
With dentures, you're also making a choice for the aesthetics of your smile. Your teeth are pulled, the dentures are fitted, and the damage underneath is only exposed when they fall out or are otherwise removed.
If you have lost a lot of teeth, whether from decay, gum disease, or trauma (such as a sports injury) you may want to consider dentures. They will restore your smile and if you go to a skilled dentist and pay for a good set, your fake teeth will look like the real deal.
Maintain Good Dental Hygiene
Estimates suggest that 25% of Americans don't brush as often as they should, and regular flossers seem to be even fewer in number.
And that's just the ones who admit to their downfalls—think about all the survey participants who lied about their habits!
Men are more likely to neglect their oral hygiene and this habit is also more common in younger individuals. They assume that they can get away with it when they are young, but it's important to adopt good habits as early as possible. Not only will it keep your teeth healthy, but it will make it easier to stick to that routine as you age.
You should brush twice a day for at least 2 minutes at a time. You should use fluoride toothpaste as often as possible and refrain from excessive use of whitening toothpaste. Heavy abrasives are used to scrub the plaque from your teeth but if used excessively, these can do more harm than good.
In addition, while most people rinse after they have brushed, many dentists recommend that you do it before. Otherwise, all of that healthy, tooth-strengthening toothpaste will be washed off your teeth.
If you floss first and then rinse, you'll expose any particles of food that have become lodged in your teeth, and the water or mouthwash will wash them away. After a good rinse, it's time to brush. Don't worry about that minty taste, as it will go away eventually.
Get Regular Professional Cleanings
You should visit your dentist at least once every 6 months. They will perform a checkup to ensure everything is healthy and will also conduct a cleaning. This helps to remove the tartar that has formed on your teeth and cannot be removed through brushing alone.
Some people are prone to creating more of this substance than others and no matter how good their dental hygiene routine is, it will just keep building up. Regular cleanings are the only way to remove the tartar before it can do any harm.
If left untreated, there is a serious risk of gum disease, decay, and countless other issues.
Visit the Dentist at the First Sign of Distress
If your gums bleed every time that you floss or if you experience constant sharp pain in your tooth, book an appointment with your dentist. Anytime a filling falls out, a tooth is chipped/cracked, or it becomes difficult to eat or drink, you should also consult with a dental professional.
Few people actually enjoy visiting the dentist. It's something we're often terrified of as children and something that can become worse as an adult, when problems are more serious and more expensive. However, ignoring an issue won't make it go away and will simply lead to a more painful, problematic, and expensive treatment further down the line.
Ask around, check online reviews, and get recommendations for a friendly and skilled local dentist. If you have a dental phobia, you want someone who will put you at ease. That way, you won't be so apprehensive every time you feel a twinge and contemplate making an appointment.
Look into Alternatives
You don't need to jump straight to dentures when you have a few decayed, broken, or missing teeth. And you definitely don't need a full set of dentures if you have lots of healthy teeth remaining.
Veneers, implants, crowns, and partial dentures could provide the coverage you need. They aren't always cheaper, and they come with their own risks, but they could be better suited to your needs.
Speak to your dentist about your options.
Watch What You Eat
Be wary of acidic and high-sugar foods, especially if they have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth. Sugary, starchy foods can stick between the gaps in your teeth and unless you floss regularly, they will remain there and steadily cause damage to the enamel.
Conditions like GERD can make the situation worse, increasing the acidity in your mouth, while anything that causes dry mouth (from alcohol to medications) may have a similar effect. You need saliva to neutralize the acidity and strengthen your teeth, and if your body is not producing enough of it, the risk of decay increases.
How Common are Dentures?
Seniors have an average of 18 to 19 teeth, and more than a quarter have no teeth at all. The older you are, the more likely you are to experience tooth loss. Not only do the passing years make you more prone to dental trauma and dietary issues, but it also means you're more likely to take medications that impact dental health and to suffer from mobility issues that make it hard to brush and floss.
As a result, dentures are fairly common in the elderly and they become more common with each passing year.
But as noted at the outset of this guide, you don't need to be elderly to wear dentures. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 3% of individuals under the age of 34 wear partial or complete dentures, and this increases with every age group.
There is no age limit. You don't suddenly turn 65 and start needing dentures. If you take care of your teeth, there's no reason why you can't maintain a clean, white, and healthy smile throughout your life.
If you're unlucky enough to break teeth in an accident or suffer from gum disease and decay, you may need partial or complete dentures. This is something you can discuss with your dentist.
They will point you in the right direction and ensure you're not taking any unnecessary steps. For instance, if you have most of your teeth but they are decayed, a mixture of crowns and veneers could be more suitable. If you have lost several teeth, they may recommend implants.
Summary: The Truth about Dentures
The idea that dentures are limited to elderly users is just one of the many myths associated with their use. And most of these myths have deterred people from using dentures.
For instance, they assume that dentures are all or nothing and that all healthy teeth need to be removed before they can be fitted. This is simply not true, and dentures can be partial or full. With the former, they are designed around remaining teeth and are clipped in place.
It's also believed that dentures will change your smile and while this can be true, it's often for the best. Your teeth help to support your smile and if you are missing many of them, your smile may sag. Wearing a set of dentures will support and restore that smile, although it won't necessarily return to the way it was before.
Additionally, there is a concern that once the teeth are extracted, the patient will be left with a sagging, toothless smile for several weeks until the wounds have healed. However, while it can take up to 3 months for the healing process to finalize and for the dentures to be manufactured, alternative arrangements can be made in the meantime.
Last but not least, many are concerned that they won't be able to eat as easily as they did before. It can take time to familiarize yourself with a new set of dentures and will seem tricky at first, but if you moved to dentures from decayed teeth or diseased gums, it may actually be a lot easier.