Caring for an elderly loved one who has dentures

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In order to offer the best support and guidance to a friend or relative, you will want to know how the fitting of new dentures works, how long it takes and what the adjustment process is like. However, you’ll also want to know how best to offer support and guidance – while also being discreet about what can be a very personal and private procedure.

To assist you with this, we’ve put together some handy hints and tips on helping things to go as smoothly as possible before, during and after the fitting:

At the appointment

Everyone reacts differently to a trip to the dentist. However, if you are able to, your loved one is likely to really appreciate having you there in person with them at their appointments. For a start, there will be information about the procedure to digest and decisions to be made about the type of denture being fitted which you’ll both want to consider. If you or your loved one are unsure of anything, don’t be afraid to ask the dentist for more information. Beyond the practical aspects of potentially removing teeth from the mouth and replacing them with dentures, there are also aesthetics to consider. In other words, your friend or relative may need a second opinion on aspects such as colour and shape.

When it comes to the day of the fitting itself, your loved one may find that the best comfort of all is also the simplest – that you are there with them at the beginning and end of the procedure. Never underestimate the power of a friendly face and reassuring smile.

After the appointment

Staying with your loved one while they get used to having dentures could make all the difference in helping them to adapt to the changes in their mouth and establish a new oral health routine. The day after the fitting, dentures should be removed gently and the mouth rinsed. You can help by dissolving a level teaspoon of salt in a glass of hot water to thoroughly rinse the affected areas. This should be carried out after every meal, no more than four times a day.

One of the best ways you can help your loved one at this point is to establish a daily cleaning routine with special denture cleaning products such as tablets, pastes and brushes to keep them free from bacteria and stains. This means that even on those occasions where you are not able to be there in person, your friend or relative will know what to do to keep their dentures in good shape.

Getting used to dentures

As is the case with many new things, getting used to dentures can take a little time. Speaking and eating are both likely to be affected initially, so choosing soft foods for the first week can be preferable. To help your loved one get used to wearing dentures, they should keep them in all day for at least the first week, only removing them to clean after meals and at night. A denture adhesive may also be used to provide extra confidence while eating and speaking.

Over time, the dentures may become loose. This is simply due to the jaw bone contracting because it’s no longer being stimulated by the action of their natural teeth. A realignment may be required -  your loved one should speak to a dentist about this process.

Of course, keep in mind that everyone is different – and your friend or relative is likely to have his or her own needs when it comes to having dentures fitted. So before they go for their appointment, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with them about the whole process. Do they understand the procedure and how it works? Do they know what to expect afterwards? Are they clear on the new oral health routine they’ll need to adopt? Being prepared in these areas means you’ll be able to plan ahead and offer the support they need as they adapt to their dentures.