Dementia Patients & Dentures: Advice for Carers

Around 5 million Americans now have Alzheimer's disease, and many more people have other forms of dementia. Dementia can lead to many complications and side effects, which can gradually erode the patient's quality of life, and carers must take steps to avoid the problems that the disease can cause. Older dementia patients often wear dentures, so carers must take care to make sure their patients don't lose these critical dental appliances. Find out more here.

The problem of lost dentures

People with dementia commonly lose their dentures, especially when they spend time in a hospital or somewhere else unfamiliar. Lost dentures can cause several problems for dementia patients. These problems include:

  • Unwanted costs. Replacement dentures are expensive.
  • Stress. Some dementia patients find it difficult to cope with a visit to the dentist. Every time these people need new dentures, they will probably need several dental appointments.
  • Decreased effectiveness. It generally takes time to adjust to a new set of dentures. If the patient experiences ongoing periods without dentures, he or she may find it increasingly difficult to cope with the appliance.

In fact, dentists will sometimes decide that it is no longer possible to give somebody with dementia new dentures. As such, it's important to take every possible step to make sure the patient sticks with his or her existing dentures.

Denture marking can help

When it comes to lost dentures, one of the biggest challenges comes when somebody finds the appliance and tries to reunite the false teeth with their owners. Without any markings, it's almost impossible to match the dentures to the patient, so nurses and carers will often have to dispose of perfectly good dentures. Denture marking can help solve this problem.

Denture marking allows you to make sure there is a unique mark on the patient's dentures that will help reunite the device with its owner. In fact, denture marking is so important that the British Dental Journal recommends that the process should become standard during the manufacture of these devices. While many dentists will offer to mark dentures for you, carers are not always aware that this is an option, which can lead to problems for the patient.

Some carers decide not to mark dentures because the patient still lives alone, so it won't matter if he or she temporarily misplaces them. Even if this is the case when the dentures are new, you cannot predict if or when the patient will need to go to a hospital or care home, so you should still always mark the dentures.

How to mark dentures

You can ask your dentist to mark the patient's dentures for you. Indeed, many dentists will offer to do this for you, but you can also temporarily mark the device at any time.

To do this you should:

  1. Always clean and disinfect the denture.
  2. Choose a space on the outer surface of the denture that is large enough to fit the patient's name.
  3. Use a scourer and gently remove the surface polish from the relevant space.
  4. Write the patient's name in the space with a permanent marker.
  5. Paint over the writing with clear nail varnish and allow the area to dry.
  6. Apply a second coat, if necessary.

The marking won't last forever. Ideally, you should ask your dentist or a dental nurse to permanently mark the dentures, but you can renew the marking as required.

Denture marking is a cheap, simple way to make sure you can reunite a dementia patient with his or her dentures. Visit resources like http://www.vfdental.com to contact a dentist for more advice about how you can easily mark a set of dentures.

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