The aging process affects every part of our body – even our teeth. Which means a lot of people – many of them “baby boomers” – are now among those who are getting full or partial dentures. In fact, one in five adults – including half of the over-55 generation – has at least one denture.
Why? For one thing, we’re living longer. When the 20th century began, only 3% of the population was 65 or older. One hundred years later, that age group accounted for 20 percent of the population. The fact is, our natural teeth are being asked to work longer.
Moreover, many of us assault our teeth and gum tissues on a daily basis with everything from sugar-rich sodas to candy bars and chewing gum. And many of us can’t seem to find the time to brush, floss, and rinse often enough to maintain optimum oral health.
The result? Teeth begin to decay. And if you don’t care for them, they become problems and sometimes they must be pulled (extracted). Here is where more problems occur. Because, “in general, as long as the teeth are present in the jaws, the jawbone stays intact. When the teeth are extracted, the jawbone begins to melt away,” explains Dr. Keith A. Robinson, in his book, “Growing Older With Your Teeth, Or Something Like Them”.
A more pressing problem is gum disease, which causes more lost teeth than cavities cause. This is why flossing is so important – as Dr. Robinson says, “It is the best way to clean out the garbage that rests and decomposes between teeth.” He adds, “An old saying is used by dental professionals frequently…pick out the teeth you want to keep and just floss them!”
The bottom line? Visit your dental professional regularly, because a dental professional treats mouths, with or without teeth. And if you’re having problems, ask your dental professional to try everything possible to avoid having your tooth or teeth pulled. Even the best denture isn’t likely to be as good as what Mother Nature gave you in the first place. Exhaust all opportunities…crown and bridge work, partials, precision attachments or implants (when surgically placed implants support a dental restoration)…before having any teeth pulled.
At best, dentures are a compromise. Discuss all options with your dental professional. You may even want a second opinion on your treatment options.
Why It’s Better In Many Ways…
Advanced dental materials create dentures that are more comfortable, more durable and fit better than your parents and grandparents ever imagined. But perhaps the greatest advancement in modern denture science is the ability to recreate much more natural-looking smiles.
- Artificial denture teeth are designed to have the look and feel of natural teeth.
- Each tooth can be positioned individually and “naturally” to give dentures a more realistic appearance.
- The 21st century offers a much more natural choice of colors for artificial gums and teeth.
- New processing methods ensure the best possible fit, function and comfort.
- The leading manufacturers are continuously introducing new and exciting products to the marketplace, in response to the demands of the more than 45 million Americans who currently wear full or partial dentures.
No two people are exactly alike, thanks to the unique interplay of thousands of natural variables…from the color of our hair and eyes, to the tone of our skin, to our height and the build of our bodies.
The same can be said for smiles. Smiles gain their beauty from the size, color and shading of our teeth, as well as from the way our teeth are positioned in our mouths.
If you are shopping for dentures, you’ll discover a range of possibilities. You may be surprised to discover that strides in modern cosmetic dentistry make it possible for you to create a smile as natural as it’s ever been.
Good looking dentures are not usually “piano key” or “picket fence” arrangements, where “snow white” teeth are arranged in a perfect row. While such arrangements may be comfortable and allow you to chew your food, many times these dentures look like dentures…They look like “false teeth.”
On the other hand, modern dental technology has developed personalized dentures that can be as natural-looking as the teeth you were born with. Dental professionals personalize dentures by actually considering everything from the shape of your face and the tone of your skin to your gender before creating – one tooth at a time – a denture that offers the most harmonious interplay of individual tooth form, size, color and arrangement.
These dentures offer higher levels of comfort, fit and performance. Their teeth wear longer and resist discoloration. And because they are made with new high-impact denture base (pink) materials, they are also stronger and more likely to survive a drop on the bathroom floor.
The Connection Is Direct.
Aging does not cause oral diseases. Indeed, people of any age can experience an oral disease. But oral diseases are more prevalent with age. That is why regular dental visits, whether you have natural or artificial teeth, are important for a lifetime of good oral health.
The stakes are high. According to Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, “What amounts to a ‘silent epidemic’ of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens – poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minority groups.” In addition, the report says, “Individuals who are medically compromised or who have disabilities are at greater risk for oral diseases, and, in turn, oral diseases further jeopardize their health.”
The oral disease with the most serious consequence is oral cancer. Oral cancer may appear as a red or white sore or bump that does not heal within 1 or 2 weeks, and which may or may not be painful. Other signs of oral cancer include swollen lymph nodes of the neck, and difficulty swallowing and speaking.
The risk for oral cancer increases with age, tobacco use, frequent use of alcohol, and exposure to sunlight.
Oral disease can also cause swelling and discomfort, altered taste and bad breath, while also detracting from your good looks.