Some years back, a friend of my father’s was attending a wedding dinner when the second dish arrived. He stood up excitedly to exclaim,”That’s my favourite dish!”
To everyone’s amusement, his set of dentures flew out at the same time, right into the dish!
Of course, looking at the dentures swimming in the dish, the rest of the diners all readily agreed that he should have the dish all to himself!
It was a funny story that stayed in my mind, but that guest probably would prefer to forget it altogether.
One would presume that the hapless guest was an elderly person, but it turned out to be a much younger middle-aged man.
Most people commonly associate dentures with seniors, especially if you have grandparents and are accustomed to seeing their dentures soaking in a glass of water.
The fact is, anyone, at any age, could lose their teeth due to an accident, injury or disease, and be in need of a set of dentures.
Without a complete set of teeth, it is close to impossible to enjoy eating or speak properly.
Unfortunately, wearing a set dentures often comes with a stigma; the negative connotation being that false teeth are often ill-fitting, uncomfortable and fake-looking.
“You would be surprised to know many start wearing partial dentures as early as 38 years old; denture wearers make up about 10% of the Malaysian population.
“Despite the significant number of denture wearers, many often shy away from talking about their dentures and the challenges they face when wearing them,” says GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare Sdn Bhd oral care marketing manager Alycia Tan.
“This may be due to the impact dentures have on the wearers’ self-esteem; almost half of them say that their confidence was affected when they had to wear dentures, preventing them from sharing with family and friends.”
A majority of wearers also lack the necessary knowledge to manage their dentures which may result in them experiencing social and functional challenges, she adds.
Malaysian Dental Association president Dr Ng Woan Tyng shares that wearers were generally concerned that dentures would affect the way they speak and eat, or even how they look.
“However, dentures are an important tool as it functions as a set of real teeth would and allow wearers to overcome food restrictions, giving them confidence as it fills up spaces in the mouth and restores facial expression.
“As such, it is very important for wearers to not only take care of their dentures, but also speak out about the challenges they face in order to get the right solutions,” she says.
Just like natural teeth, dentures need proper care to prolong their lifespan and sustain oral health.
Furthermore, wrong methods of cleaning and mismanagement could cause damage to dentures, changing the way they fit and leading to discomfort in wear.
Denture wearers may get food caught underneath their dentures, which can not only lead to discomfort and irritation, but also allows plaque, tartar and stains to build up over time on both the dentures and remaining teeth, causing serious health concerns.
“Never brush with toothpaste as it is too abrasive for dentures, which are 10 times softer than normal teeth.
“It can cause scratches on the dentures that will pick up more bacteria,” stresses Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Faculty of Dentistry prosthodontist and senior lecturer Dr Natasya Ahmad Tarib.
To ensure proper denture hygiene, she advises to start off with brushing remaining teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, followed by wiping gums with wet gauze or soft cloth.
“Then, brush dentures with a denture brush under running water while placing a basin or piece of cloth below as a base to protect it.
“Finally, immerse it into the denture cleanser to ensure all surfaces are fully in contact with the solution,” she explains.
Apart from denture hygiene, another common problem is “floating dentures” – dentures that become loose while eating and speaking – which could lead to an embarrassing moment, as in the earlier story.
“Denture adhesive comes in handy in such a situation, to hold it firmly and allow wearers to bite hard while chewing food. It can also reduce the amount of food trapped underneath the dentures too,” Dr Natasya adds.
GSK is the manufacturer of Polident. Formulated to provide a firmer hold and cleaner dentures, Polident offers denture care products to improve the comfort and oral health of denture wearers.
The use of Polident Cleanser kills 99.9% of odour-causing bacteria, while helping to remove plaque and stains.
Suitable for daily use, the low-abrasive formulation also cleans the soft surface of dentures without scratching its surface pores, preventing bacterial growth.
Polident also has a range of denture adhesives that can help return confidence and reassurance to wearers by improving denture fit and comfort. It holds dentures tight for up to 12 hours, while improving bite force and sealing out irritating food particles.
Polident’s ambassador Raja Azura Tengku Ahmad Tajudin, fondly known as Kak Engku, first got to know about the brand when it became the main sponsor for a reality television singing competition that she hosted.
She then introduced the brand to her mother, Raja Saleha Raja Yusof, or Mak Engku, who has been wearing dentures since her 30s.
“Before I was introduced to Polident Denture Cleanser, I had to soak my dentures for 24 hours to ensure it was clean. Now, with the cleanser tablets, it just takes me five minutes to clean my dentures.
“I am a foodie and enjoy food very much. Now with Polident Adhesive, I can chew properly and eat with confidence, without having to worry about my dentures moving,” she says.
In conjunction with its Eat, Speak and Smile with Confidence initiative to empower denture wearers with denture care knowledge, GSK is rolling out its Polident Money Back Guarantee programme nationwide until August to encourage denture wearers to try Polident products.
Additionally, the Malaysian Dental Association will be offering complimentary denture check-ups this month at participating dental clinics nationwide to educate the public on the importance of denture care.
For details, visit www.polident.com.my.