The Importance of Dental Prophylaxis for the Edentulous Patient

dentures

You may be wondering why a patient without natural teeth would require a cleaning and exam twice per year as well as a panoramic radiograph yearly. Often overlooked in dentistry, bi-annual visits for patients with traditional dentures or implant retained prosthetics are critical because many undesirable conditions can develop inconspicuously regarding the underlying structures.

What might be lurking underneath a prosthesis? An infection is possible as a result of the porous nature of the acrylic being a breeding ground for microbes. You may also find abnormal tissue or bone growth precipitating a visit to an oral surgeon for evaluation and biopsy. Moreover, tissue irritation is a possibility due to an ill-fitting prosthesis rubbing the exposed tissue. A simple adjustment will usually alleviate this annoyance. Another culprit might be calculus present on the denture itself causing friction. Although the patient is adequately caring for the denture at home, calculus can still form on the surface and pose as an irritant to the tissue. A dental professional will be able to place the prosthesis in an ultrasonic device with a chemical solution and loosen the calculus. After removal of any hard deposits, the denture can be polished and returned to the patient.

Most patients with a total prosthesis only visit a dentist if they’re experiencing pain or the prosthesis breaks. These limited appointments usually focus on addressing the acute problem and not the overall health of the remaining oral structures. Furthermore, edentulous patients are often self-conscious without their prosthesis in their mouth and refuse to remove it on a daily basis, so you can imagine the panic they feel when you request they remove it for an extended period. The thought of being in a public place (the dental office) without any teeth is overwhelming for many people. Therefore, it’s imperative that the dental team is sensitive to this fact while stressing the importance of regular appointments to ensure proper oral health. Examining the patient in a private area may alleviate their fears and make them much more cooperative.

It is the responsibility of the dental professional to educate the patient on the necessity of continued dental care, and the misconception that professional prophylaxis and exams are no longer necessary because of the absence of natural teeth. Most people with dentures honestly believe that regular check-ups are unnecessary and it’s the duty of the dental professional to advise them otherwise.

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