Let’s be clear: having teeth extracted and dentures inserted immediately after, can be a stressful situation. It can seem a daunting prospect. Firstly, you must adjust to losing your natural teeth, and then adjust to a denture inserted immediately following those extractions (this is why it’s called an immediate denture). Not to mention getting used to speaking and eating with a foreign body in your mouth.
Fear of the unknown, what dentures may mean for you, how they will affect your lifestyle and looks, cannot be underestimated. And it is different for each and every person. Add to this, the stress caused by a major change in how you perceive yourself. How you are perceived by others. How you will adjust to doing things like eating, speaking, having relationships – all things that came as second nature before.
It is not surprising therefore, that when your dental health professional explains the process along with what you might realistically expect from the procedure, and how best to manage it, that many people zone out with information overload. They simply do not absorb the information because of a sense of overwhelm and stress.
As if this is not enough to contend with, there are those patients who have an intense fear of dental procedures, known as dental anxiety. The symptoms are well documented and include:
- racing heartbeat (tachycardia) or palpitations
- low blood pressure and possible fainting (syncope)
- visible distress, crying or signs of panic
- withdrawal, or using humour or aggression to mask anxiety (ref)
- inability to process information
Overwhelmed by the information about immediate dentures?
So, why do people have issues with absorbing information when it comes to getting dentures? When you consider the above symptoms, it is hardly surprising you don’t recall information, given everything else that may be going on for you.
Memory research provides some answers as to why this is the case. But suffice to say, the stressed brain does not process new information well. The sheer volume can seem overwhelming, never mind the unfamiliar terminology. Neither do we encode or retain information when in a highly stressed state.
Your dental health professional may have carefully explained the procedure in detail to you, given you written information, and even perhaps diagrams of what to expect. However, you may simply be unable to absorb the information because of how anxious you are about having the procedure. And you would not be alone.
What to do about it
One useful strategy to help to lower your anxiety levels is to be informed about what to expect before you have the procedure. So, doing a little research prior to seeing your dental surgeon and prosthetist will help you understand what they are talking about. The following suggestions can help to inform you of what to expect:
- Ask the advice of friends who have been through the immediate denture process
- Join Facebook support groups
- Look for information via online dental websites. Doing so will enable you to ask questions pertinent to you.
- To avoid forgetting those questions when put on the spot, write them down and take the list with you to appointments.
- Take a family member or trusted friend along to your initial consultation. Two heads are better than one for recalling what was said.
- In extreme cases seek professional help for your anxiety.
Dental professionals are used to dealing with patient’s questions and concerns, but they are not mind readers. Never be afraid of saying you don’t understand any part of an explanation on your procedure. Given their long years of training, no-one expects you to know all that your oral health professionals know. They prefer to work with informed patients. Both parties benefit when patient and the care-provider expectations align.
Immediate dentures - why do some people fare better than others?
Often it comes down to individual expectations. We are unique in our physical and psychological make-ups. Each person has a distinctive pain threshold, different ways of dealing with stress, at different times in their lives. People have varied expectations about their health outcomes. Fear can be a powerful influence. If you expect things to go wrong, they probably will.
However, the reverse is also true.
Pause for a moment and consider this: what if the experience of teeth extraction and having a denture fitted could be a positive one? What if you looked better, ate, and spoke well, and were confident with your new teeth? What if you no longer had to cover your mouth with your hand because of embarrassing gaps in your smile? Embarking on the process of getting dentures can be a little bit scary but it doesn’t have to be bad. Being an informed, positive-minded patient is empowering. Being willing to ask questions and work with your health provider to get optimal results, can make for a smooth transition to dentures.
Ongoing support for immediate dentures produces the best results
And the process doesn’t end there. Your prosthetist is committed to supporting you through the adjustment period and beyond, with regular check ups and advice (in some clinics, free), monitoring your denture as your face, mouth, and gums adjust to the changes. Annual denture checks and maintenance ensures you get the most from your denture, prolonging its life and good fit. Timely visits to your prosthetist can avoid problems before they become major issues.
The take-home message
While not without its discomforts, tooth extraction pain can be managed. So too, can getting used to having a denture in your mouth. A little fore knowledge can go a long way. If you have excessive pain after extraction, or difficulties with your denture, don’t suffer in silence. Before your procedure, your dental health professional will give you information about managing the discomforts. In addition, help is only as far away as the phone. Knowing support is readily available to you will help dial down your stress levels. Generations of people have benefited by dentures over eons. Many subscribers to our dental support Facebook page say having problem teeth removed and a denture fitted is the best thing they’ve done and wished they’d done it sooner.
Northern Rivers Denture Clinic is located in the heart of Tweed Heads, southern Gold Coast. Finally have the smile you deserve with handcrafted, quality dentures.