Psychological Effects of Tooth Loss

Psychological Effects of Tooth Loss

What are the Psychological Aspects of Tooth Loss?

The psychological effects of total tooth loss, also known as edentulism, are complex and varied. They range from very minimal anxiety to a state of neuroticism. Although complete dentures can satisfy the esthetic needs of many patients, there are those who feel their social life is significantly affected when wearing dentures. Some say they are concerned with kissing and romantic situations, especially if a new partner in a relationship is unaware of their oral situation.

In many cases, dental implants and dentures can satisfy the esthetic needs of patients, but there are those who feel their social life is altered negatively when wearing dentures. Many of those who wear dentures find them useful but worry about their less-than-desired appearance and function. Research also shows that dentures may not satisfy the needs of such patients when it comes to community and social interactions. Some report concerns about dating or kissing, with worries about new relationships if the other party does not know of their dental condition.

Similarly, research among patients who have tooth loss, especially full tooth loss, view their experience on a level with the loss of another body part or as comparable to the death of a friend. Some say they feel a sense of bereavement and report they feel shame about their dental condition. The effects include a marked decline in confidence and ability to enjoy interacting daily with others.

Are you happy with your dentures?

One study of interviews with edentulous patients found tooth loss was comparable to the death of a friend or loss of other important parts of a body in causing a reduction of self-confidence ending in a feeling of shame or bereavement. Another dental survey of edentulous patients found 66 percent were dissatisfied with their complete dentures. Primary reasons were discomfort and lack of retention causing pain and discomfort.

Are dentures comfortable?

Other dental health surveys indicate that only 80 percent of the edentulous population can wear both removable upper and lower dentures full time. Some patients wear only one denture, usually the maxillary; others can wear their dentures for short periods only. Also, approximately 7 percent of patients are not able to wear their dentures at all and become dental cripples or “oral invalids.” They rarely leave their home environment, and when they feel forced to venture out, the thought of meeting and talking to people when not wearing their teeth is unsettling.

How do you talk with dentures?

A report of more than 100 completely edentulous patients seeking treatment was performed and found that of the patients studied, 88 percent claimed difficulty with speech, with one-fourth reporting they experienced great difficulty when conversing. As a consequence, it is easy to correlate the reported increase with concern relative to social activities. Awareness of movement of the lower denture was cited by 62.5 percent of these patients, although the upper dentures stayed in place most of the time at almost the same percentage.

Are dentures comfortable?

Upper denture discomfort was listed with equal frequency as slipping (63.5 percent). Surprisingly, 16.5 percent of the patients stated they never wore their lower denture. In comparison, the upper denture was uncomfortable half as often (32.6 percent), and only 1 percent were seldom able to wear their dentures. The function was the fourth most common problem reported by the denture wearers studied. Half the patients avoided many foods, and 17 percent claimed they were able to chew more effectively without the dentures. The psychological effects of the inability to eat in public can be correlated with these findings.

Are dentures painful?

Six out of seven patients who have tooth loss said they were also disappointed with wearing dentures mainly because of pain and discomfort as well as situations in which the dentures slip or lose their hold. Other findings in dental health studies show that as many as eight out of 10 patients with complete tooth loss are not able to wear dentures on a regular basis. Some say they can only tolerate a single denture appliance while others can only wear their dentures for short periods of time until discomfort forces them to take them off. Some report feelings of becoming a “dental invalid,” with the loss of their teeth seem crippling to deal with. About one out of ten patients said they were reluctant to leave their own residence or neighborhood due to their condition, and when they did go out, they dreaded the possibility of running into people or having social interactions.

In addition to those issues, reported problems among patients with total tooth loss included speaking. About nine out of 10 people saying they experience difficulty with conversing, and about a quarter of those interviewed indicated extreme difficulty when talking.

Compliance with wearing dentures is hindered by ill-fitting upper dentures and/or slipping. About 1.5 out of 10 patients said they chose not to wear lower dentures at all due to such problems. That compares similarly to upper denture wearers who said discomfort caused noncompliance.

Lack of good function was another main problem reported by the denture wearers who were studied. Half the patients said they were forced to refrain from foods they previously enjoyed eating. About two out of ten said they felt more able to chew while NOT wearing their dentures. Along with the psychological effects of not being able to comfortably eat in social situations also reflected the research findings.

Effects of tooth loss

  • Bereavement

  • Lowered self-confidence

  • Altered self-image, dislike of appearance

  • Inability to discuss this taboo subject

  • Behaving in a way that keeps tooth loss a secret

  • Altered behavior in socializing and forming close relationships

  • Premature aging

Other reports agree that the major motivating factors for patients to undergo treatment were related to the difficulties with eating, denture fit, and discomfort. The psychological need of the edentulous patient is expressed in many forms. For example, in 1970, British citizens used approximately 88 tons of denture adhesive.

What are denture adhesive problems?

In 1982, more than 5 million Americans used denture adhesives, and a report shows that in the United States, more than $200 million is spent each year on denture adhesives, representing 55 million units sold. The patients say they are willing to accept the unpleasant taste, need for recurring application, inconsistent denture fit, embarrassing circumstances, and continued expense for the sole benefit of increased retention of the dentures. The lack of retention and psychological risk of embarrassment in the denture wearer with removable dentures is a concern the dental profession must address.

Other research shows that factors involved in patients choosing to try treatment include the hindrances with eating, appliance fit, and lack of comfort. These psychological issues among such patients have some major impacts. In Britain, for example, sales of denture adhesives are a booming industry, with about 90 tons sold annually. As many as five million U.S. citizens also regularly use adhesives to hold their dentures, and economic data show that $200-plus million is doled out annually on adhesives for dentures across the nations, or approaching 60 million adhesive units sold. Buyers of the material to hold on dentures indicate that while they do not like to have to constantly reapply the adhesive, the cost is worth the effort and expense because it helped them to retain dentures and avoid embarrassment. The issues relating to retention and psychological embarrassment of dentures, as result, continues to be a great concern to dental practitioners.

And, as more and more patients seek dental implants to replace their dentures, dental implants as a solution are becoming more cost-effective while those who seek the implants report the implants work more like natural teeth and are more esthetically pleasing. They say that choosing an experienced clinician is vital in achieving such a result and that implants that are stable and more toothlike provide the proper feel and functions whereas devices such as bridges or dentures can have side effects such as bone loss and can interfere with dining, appearance, speech, and everyday activities.

What are the alternatives for conventional dentures?

Implant-supported dentures and full fix implants are the best alternatives for conventional removable dentures. In special cases, we can makeover your smile in a single day.  Many people who chose dental implants find the dental implants are cost-effective, and the wearers find the implants look like natural teeth and perform just as natural teeth do. That leads to improved self-esteem and feelings of psychological well-being. Dental implants restore the quality of life, while other options such as dentures or bridges sometimes lead to bone deterioration and interfere with daily life activities such as eating, smiling and speaking.

Dental implants are implanted in two stages and are comprised of a titanium post and porcelain crown. Dental implants are placed into the bone and allowed to heal. Permanent crowns are placed, and the bite is adjusted to ensure its alignment. Titanium posts fuse to the jawbone, and the dental implants can last a lifetime. Your Omega Dental Specialists can help you decide on dental implants.

What holds implants in place?

Most dental implants use a titanium post to anchor a crown made from porcelain. A two-stage procedure is performed with the dentist first placing the implant into the bone where it heals over time. The practitioner then can add the permanent crown to the implant post. The patient’s bite is adjusted to allow good alignment. In time, the titanium post undergoes osseointegration and fuses to the jawbone. This provides a base for the implant to last for life.

If you are missing teeth, an affordable dental implant may be an excellent way to help achieve a more natural look and feel that your ability to chew, talk and smile with confidence is back. Choosing to obtain dental implants can be a highly important life choice and we are ready to help you to decide if implants are right for you.

Financing for Dental Implant

If you do not have coverage in your plan, Omega Dental can help find easy-to-pay payment plans or additional financing. If you have reached the maximum your insurance provider offers annually or you don’t have coverage, other arrangements may be made, including making payments. Some third-party lenders and credit programs are also generally available. We post specials each month when care is sometimes offered at lower prices.