Tooth loss can happen at any age, but it doesn't have to mean living without an attractive smile. If you think you're too young for replacement teeth, finding out you need them can be stressful. The good news is, with a few small changes in your oral care routine and diet, you can be confident about living with dentures.
Living With Dentures When You're Young
You probably know more people in your age group with dentures than you realize. According to Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, 69 percent of adults between 35 and 44 have lost one or more permanent teeth, and 26 percent of adults aged 74 are missing all of them. Young people can lose teeth due to gum disease and tooth decay, or they may suffer from dental abnormalities such as ectodermal dysplasia. Another reason younger people sometimes need dentures is severe tooth erosion from gastrointestinal reflux, which causes stomach acid to regurgitate into the mouth.
Whatever the cause of the problem, dentures offer a long-term solution free from pain and worry. And after an adjustment period, the patient can continue a diet that is nearly the same as before – with a more attractive and healthier smile.
Younger patients may feel especially sensitive about their appearance when having dentures fitted, but dentists offer treatment options that help avoid embarrassment. Having removed the remaining permanent teeth, the dentist must wait several months while the gums change shape before they can receive permanent dentures. During this time, the patient can choose to have no teeth, or wear immediate dentures. Fitted directly after tooth extraction, immediate dentures ensure there's no awkward toothless period. When the gums have adjusted, the patient returns to the dental office to have the dentures relined them to fit the mouth's new shape.
Implant-supported dentures can also help younger people's fears that others may notice and comment on their dentures. Regular dentures in the lower mouth are not as secure in the mouth as upper dentures (due to the presence of the tongue), and they sometimes slip, but implant-supported dentures offer a high level of security. The dentist or dental specialist surgically inserts implants into the jawbone to hold the denture tightly to the gum. Keep in mind the process for fitting implant-supported dentures takes several months, and there must be sufficient jawbone to hold the implants in place.
In a few weeks, or sometimes a few months, patients feel comfortable wearing dentures. At first, speaking and eating take practice, the dentures may feel loose or bulky in the mouth, and there is usually some extra saliva flow. However, with time, these effects fade.
While adjusting to living with dentures, practice speaking alone and with a close friend to build back your confidence speaking in public situations. Over time, your mouth muscles will adjust and your speech will improve. Eat soft foods cut into small pieces at first, and gradually return to your normal diet as you learn to chew and bite with your new teeth. Just be sure to avoid sticky, hard or chewy foods that your dentures may not be able to handle.
Denture care is similar to caring for permanent teeth and not difficult or complicated. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your new teeth, and leave them to soak in cleaning solution overnight. You can keep your gums clean and fresh during this process with Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ Mouthwash dental rinse, available on prescription from your dentist.
Dentures provide a reason to smile again, sometimes after years of living with pain from tooth decay. After an adjustment period, you can eat, drink and speak normally, without fear of embarrassment, and you can enjoy the benefits of white, even, attractive teeth.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.