Dentures are common among the elderly population and often are necessary to ensure continued health and nutrition. For many seniors, the need for dentures has been a necessity for quite some time before the actual dentures are purchased and fitted. If you are caring for a loved one that requires the use of dentures, it is important to become familiar with not only the impact of dentures on your loved one’s health but how your loved one’s health – including diet- can adversely impact the integrity of the dentures.
Dentures, by the very nature of t heir mechanical and chemical composition, are designed to weather tough environments. For many seniors, however, failing to properly care for the dentures can lead to a breakdown in the mechanical and chemical function, thereby destroying the integrity. For seniors who have an unhealthy diet, and for seniors who are using prescription medications, the deterioration of dentures can be specifically disconcerting.
Acidic foods and drinks and foods that are high in sugar can cause a chemical breakdown in dentures that can lead to abrasion, wear and tear, and breakage of the dentures. When the dentures are no longer functioning, your loved one may quickly find it is difficult to eat, drink or even talk. Using a healthy diet, including drinking healthy drinks and plenty of water, is important to the denture user.
In addition to diet, the use of prescription medications may also cause a breakdown in the integrity of dentures. While prescription medications do not affect dentures directly, they can change the chemical composition of your loved ones saliva and this may lead to a breakdown in the dentures if there are worn frequently. To ensure there is limited saliva-induced deterioration of the dentures, you will want to ask your dentist to regularly check the dentures for complications associated with saliva and then try to determine what medications may be imposing the health risk. For many seniors, modifications of medications are possible and may help to improve overall oral health.
Dentures are a common part of the lifestyle of many elderly adults. If you have made the important step of helping a loved one obtain a set of dentures, be sure to practice healthy diet and reduce complications in their saliva composition as much as possible in an effort to reduce the need to replace dentures frequently. With the right balance, one set of dentures should last a very long time.
Sources: Journal of Oral Hygiene, 2007: 89-97.