DEAR DOCTOR K: My dentist says it’s time for dentures. What should I know before I get them?
DEAR READER: Nearly half of Americans ages 65 and over have lost six or more teeth because of decay or gum disease. Tooth loss can profoundly affect your health and well-being. The more teeth a person loses, the more difficult it is to chew food properly and get needed nutrients. Missing teeth can also make speaking difficult and make you self-conscious about your appearance.
Nothing can fully take the place of healthy, natural teeth, but several replacement options are available. One such replacement is dentures.
Take proper care of your dentures to keep them looking good and fitting well. The following tips will help:
• Wash dentures in cold or warm – not hot – water.
• Try not to drop dentures on a hard surface, as they break easily. Handle them over a basin of water or a soft towel.
• Wash dentures daily with denture cleanser, hand soap or mild dish liquid. If dentures are not washed daily, they can become infected, usually with fungus and bacteria. When their surfaces are infected, and you wear the dentures, they can pass the infection to the lining of your mouth.
• Clean denture surfaces by scrubbing thoroughly with a special denture brush or a hard toothbrush.
• After the adjustment phase, take your dentures out when you sleep to relieve pressure on your gums.
• When your dentures aren’t in your mouth, soak them in a denture cleaning solution or in water. Don’t let them dry out.
• Brush your mouth – including your gums, palate and tongue – with a soft-bristled toothbrush every morning before you insert your dentures.
Dentures can improve your nutrition, your speech, your appearance and your happiness. Treat them with respect.
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