Many people who wear traditional dentures assume that having no teeth means that they no longer have to see a dentist. Unfortunately, this can be a dangerous myth. Dental visits are still important for multiple reasons. The truth is that your dentist is able to intercept problems that have nothing to do with the teeth. This article will explain the various aspects of a dental visit for someone who wears dentures and why each of these aspects is important to your health.
- Professional Denture Cleaning
Like natural teeth, dentures are susceptible to the accumulation of plaque, food debris, and stains. In addition to your home care, a professional denture cleaning is necessary to keep your denture looking clean and healthy. The solution your dentist uses in combination with ultrasonic vibrations is capable of removing tough stains that you have been unable to eliminate.
A professional denture cleaning also removes residual debris from adhesive material. In cases of dentures that have not been cleaned in a very long time, the professional cleaning process also eliminates any microorganisms harbored inside the denture. This includes the fungus that can cause painful irritation with an infection commonly referred to as “thrush”.
- Evaluation of Denture Fit and Bite
The shape of dentures does not change over time, but the underlying jawbone and gum tissues do. This affects the fit of dentures, leading to looseness, changes in bite, and sore spots. Obviously, you can wait until your denture bothers you before seeking help from the dentist. However, we believe that it is better to intercept problems before they begin. Not only does this ensure that your treatment is less extensive and less expensive; it saves you the pain and embarrassment of loose dentures.
We have found that some patients are unaware of changes in the fit of the denture because they happen slowly over time and allow the patient to adapt. Identifying areas of frictional irritation allows your dentist to make adjustments before painful ulcers develop.
- Soft Tissue Evaluation including Oral Cancer Screening
The most important reason for yearly dental visits is the oral cancer screening. At each dental evaluation, your dentist will perform a thorough examination of the soft tissues lining the inside of the mouth without the dentures in place. This allows your dentist to screen for suspicious lesions that could be early cancerous spots.
All adults should have an oral cancer screening by a dental professional at least once every year, regardless of how many teeth they have. Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases the survival rate. Denture wearers who do not maintain consistent dental visits with oral cancer screenings are more likely to miss the opportunity for early detection of oral cancer lesions. These yearly check-ups can literally save your life.
- Clarification of Care Instructions
The dental visits also provide an opportunity for your dentist and his or her team to clarify the best ways for you to care for your dentures. Often, we find out that patients are using the wrong products to clean or soak their dentures. Perhaps they need reminding that DIY adjustments can lead to rough or sharp edges in the denture that require polishing. We have had patients use nail files or dremel tools on their dentures in the attempt to relieve pressure in sore spots. It is important to have your dentist smooth and polish any rough areas to a high shine. This helps resist plaque buildup and further irritation.
- Jaw X-Rays
Much less frequently, but no less important, are jaw x-rays. Most dentists order these x-rays, called panoramic radiographs, every five years. These are not the typical dental x-rays that screen for cavities and gum disease. A panoramic radiograph is a single image that shows the entire upper and lower jaws, allowing your dentist to evaluate the health of the jawbone and screen for any tumors or masses in the jaws.
More Questions about Dental Visits for Denture Wearers?
Call today to schedule a consultation with one of our denture experts. We can answer any question you have and initiate consistent, yearly evaluations to keep you as healthy as possible.