Thursday, September 6, 2012

If I Have Dentures, Do I Still Need To See a Dentist?

Individuals who have healthy gums and teeth are currently recommended to visit their dentist twice a year for regular checkups; however, often the question is asked, "How often, or if ever, should a person with dentures or false teeth see his family dentist?" Edentulous individuals or people with dentures are recommended to have annual exams.

During a dentist's periodic oral dental exam, many aspects of oral health are evaluated. The dental screening evaluates not only the proper fit of the denture, but an oral cancer inspection is also performed. This exam evaluates the health of the patient's gums and soft tissues. The patient's dentures are also thoroughly inspected so that potential mechanical problems are avoided. Also, the dentures are cleaned to remove any accumulated stain and hard deposit. Finally, necessary x-rays should be taken every couple of years to assess and to monitor bone loss.

Dentures that fit are imperative for an individual's comfort and proper function. If dentures are properly fitting, the need for over-the-counter pastes and adhesives is not necessary. Often dentures that have lost suction can be repaired or improved by the dentist. Relining the inner portion of the denture does help regain proper suction; thus, the individual is more comfortable and is able to eat and to speak with more confidence. A reline is needed because the bone under the denture resorbs over time so that the denture doesn't fit well. A reline or rebase can be done to restore optimal fit.

If the acrylic portion of the denture needs to be replaced and the teeth have minimal wear, a denture can be rebased so that stability and function are restored. Relining or rebasing an existing denture can add longevity to the denture and can help reduce the cost that would be incurred with having to replace a denture.

A common misconception is that a set of dentures should last an individual for a lifetime. Dentures, like any artificial or man-made device, have a typical lifespan. The teeth on a denture will wear with time, and the acrylic will age and become more brittle and lose its natural color. It is expected that a denture should be replaced every 10 to 12 years. Individuals who keep a denture longer, run a potential risk of increased complicating factors.

If a denture is not remade periodically, the teeth will wear and become shorter and shorter. This can cause the loss of VDO or vertical dimension opening of the jaw. The loss of VDO often causes stress on the temporomandibular joint. There are other complicating factors such as combination syndrome or unbalanced arch discrepancies that can occur if proper balance and fit are not maintained. Dentures that are older than 12 years which are eventually remade are often extremely difficult for the patient to get used to wearing. Allowing the artificial appliance to overly age and become thin creates problems when a new, adequate denture is made. The new denture often feels bulky and cumbersome, and the patient needlessly struggles to adapt to his new denture.

Although a person may no longer have natural teeth in his mouth, there are many benefits from yearly exams. The relationship and care gained by having one's dentist partner with an individual to maintain his best oral health is priceless. Healthcare professionals are there to help one gain and keep the best health possible. Dental health is often a key indicator of overall health. Visiting one's dentist yearly, even when one has dentures, is a step to maintaining one's best general health possible.

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