5 Medical Conditions that Affect Dentures


Health conditions that are common among elderly people can affect dentures, gums and overall oral health, says Dr. James Rodriguez, DDS, a Staten Island, New York dentist who has been practicing general dentistry for more than 22 years. Here's how five common health problems can impact denture wearers:

Diabetes – Diabetes accelerates gum disease. People with poorly controlled blood sugar are at significantly greater risk for severe, progressive gum disease. And, if a diabetic senior has gum disease, it may cause painful inflammation that causes dentures to not fit properly.

Osteoporosis – When a senior has osteoporosis, the jaw bone can deteriorate significantly, changing the shape of the jaw, which causes ill-fitting dentures. As the jawbone shrinks, so do gum tissues (sometimes referred to as ridges). Ridges can shrink up to a quarter-inch in 10 years.

Medications There are approximately 500 commonly prescribed medications, including blood pressure medications and anti-depressants that cause dry mouth, or xerostomia. With a substantial lack of saliva, the denture wearer's ability to function comfortably is seriously compromised. Medications can have a direct effect on the gums by creating an exaggerated response to plaque and resulting in gum overgrowth. Immuno-suppressants and other disease-fighting medications may reduce the body's ability to combat infection, increasing the risk for periodontal disease.

Cancer treatment – Chemotherapy and radiation therapy of the head and neck can have serious oral side effects. Side effects can include dry mouth, altered sense of taste, mucositis (inflammation of the insides of the cheeks and lips), gum swelling (which can interfere with the fit of dentures) and jaw stiffness.

Arthritis Medical conditions that affect movement, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, make daily care of dentures difficult, if not impossible, to perform. It's essential that patients who have difficulty brushing see their dentist regularly for thorough cleanings and exams.

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I did not know this. Thanks for the info.
Is there hope for the aging population then, especially if one has all 5 conditions? Eating becomes difficult at best and good nutrition even harder to maintain. What are we to do with our aging parents who need new dentures but because of all their health issues find it hard fit properly?
Coping with the various medical conditions affecting seniors is often overwhelming for both the individuals and their caregivers. The dental complications resulting from these conditions make it challenging for the elderly to maintain adequate oral health, including proper home care procedures and routine visits to the dental office. Marlo, thank you for providing a great summary of the various medical conditions that affect denture wearers. In my experience working with seniors in nursing homes and retirement communities, arthritic pain makes denture maintenance very challenging. Electric denture brushes have wider handles and often provide better grip and more dexterity for cleaning dentures. Electric brushes can be supplied at the dental office but are also available in most department stores inexpensively. As medical conditions progress, gums and bone tissues in the mouth may change accordingly resulting in ill-fitting dentures that cause discomfort, pain and possible infections. Routine visits to the dentist cannot be stressed enough but the reality is that mobility impairment can make it impossible to do so. Many dental offices now provide mobile house call dental services for seniors who are bed-ridden and unable to leave their home and offer services including mobile dental cleanings, denture fabrication (and adjustments) and basic dental procedures. If you have a family member who could benefit from such arrangements, contact your local dental office to inquire if such mobile home care dental services are available in your area. You can also access more oral health resources for the elderly online.