Adapting to tooth loss – Phillip Silver Solvay 360Featured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 10th December 2019
Losing or having teeth removed can be deeply depressing for patients. The permanency of the change can be a heavy experience, and people vary tremendously in their acceptance of it.
The decreased incidence of partial edentulism, may itself compound how the patient feels. With fewer and fewer people reaching an edentulous state, the condition becomes rarer and therefore more likely to draw attention. With the general societal trend towards health consciousness, losing one’s teeth may provoke judgement, real or imagined, that the condition represents a moral failing – in much the same way that some people ascribe negative traits to individuals with higher BMIs. People may associate losing teeth with an unhealthy diet, not looking after one’s hygiene or substance abuse (particularly if the affected person is young). Tooth loss can impact a person’s confidence, leading them to restrict their social activities, which in turn can lead to a decline in mental wellbeing.
Insecurity among younger patients with partial edentulism can be particularly acute. Tooth loss among younger demographics can be quite sudden, rather than the culmination of years of worsening oral condition. Young people are relatively more likely to lose teeth due to trauma, such as during a traffic accident or while participating in a contact sport, though decay is still the leading cause. In 2018 (financial year), more than 59,000 extractions were performed in NHS hospitals on under-20s. Of these, 65 per cent were due to decay.
People with depression are more likely to struggle to maintain their hygiene, which not only jeopardises their oral health, but can increase their likelihood of malodour. People with mental health conditions may also self-medicate with substances such as alcohol or tobacco, which may also impact their oral health. Periodontal disease, bacteria on the tongue, impacted food, dry mouth, and unclean dentures can all cause bad breath – which can have significant impact on the affected individual’s relationships and social life. Depression, is associated with dental caries, partial and total edentulism. A patient who already suffers from a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety, may find that losing teeth further exacerbates their feelings. All this said, a pre-existing mental health condition is by no means a requirement for someone to be deeply affected by tooth loss.
While many advocate that beauty is only skin deep, and that superficial concerns over appearance should not have a bearing on how someone is perceived. In reality, many people do seem to let such things influence them, and even partial edentulism can disadvantage someone, professionally and personally. Many people consider missing teeth to be “a deal breaker” for a relationship, due to aesthetics, value judgements about the person (irresponsible, lazy, etc.). Similar concerns can affect a patient’s professional life. Judgemental feelings may also be internalised, with the patients feeling troubled over the change in their appearance.
The rise of online social networks, has brought with it psychological and sociological changes and pressures we are only beginning to understand. These may exacerbate patient concerns and emotions over tooth loss and denture use. Current research indicates that social network users can be negatively impacted due to passive use (i.e. reading a lot of people’s posts but not interacting much). It has been theorised that people comparing themselves with the idealised personas that others project on social media, has an adverse effect on wellbeing. Seeing others apparently enjoying their lives may heighten feelings that one is missing out on something (commonly referred to as fear of missing out or FOMO). For partially and fully edentulous persons, such content may be a painful reminder of elements of their life that have been compromised by the condition, such as enjoying food or socialising.
Removable dentures, can help improve a patient’s quality of life, however, this is tempered by the type of denture and its attributes. For a patient to feel most at ease with partial dentures, they need to be comfortable and reliable. If dentures fit poorly, look out of place or have an unpleasant taste, the wearer is going to not only feel physical discomfort, they are going to be constantly reminded that they are wearing them. An ideal denture should do its job so discretely and effectively, that the patient can virtually forget they are using an appliance. A study found that 45 per cent of edentulous patients had difficulty coming to terms with the loss of their teeth. However, among those who reported having no difficulties with their dentures, 90 per cent came to feel that they were a part of themselves.
Ultaire® AKP from Solvay Dental 360® is an innovative non-corrosive polymer. While containing no trace of metal, it nonetheless has comparable strength. Research has found that 40 per cent of patients no longer use removable partial dentures within just 5 years, mostly due to pain and aesthetics. Removable partial dentures made from Ultaire® AKP are aesthetically pleasing, non-irritating, lightweight and very comfortable – allowing patients to continue to live life to the fullest without worrying about their appliance.
By working to provide patients with solutions that are discrete, functional, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, we can help minimise the negative psychological ramifications of tooth loss.
To book a Solvay Dental 360® Professional Lunch and Learn or to find more information Ultaire® AKP and Dentivera® milling discs,
please visit www.solvaydental360.com
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