Toothy Grins


Toothy Grins

We're on to more mundane sorts of issues now that Dad is recovering from his heart attack. The current complication involves dentures.

The Monday before Easter, both my parents went to the dentist to have their dentures adjusted. They weren't fitting exactly right. Both of them needed their dentures relined. I don't know what that involves, but their teeth had to go on to a lab and spend a few days getting this done. Mom and Dad were not thrilled to go home without teeth, but they resigned themselves to it because they wanted to be more comfortable. They got their teeth back on Thursday. The next day, we started Dad's heart attack adventure.

Within 15 minutes after Dad got home from the hospital, Mom was complaining about her dentures. They (the lab) had obviously done something wrong because her dentures didn't fit. She needed to go back to the dentist. Even so, she had little faith the dentist would ever get it right. My brother checked with the clinic and was told I would receive a phone call about an appointment. I tried to reassure my brother that it takes a little time to get used to dentures after a reline (I think) and Mom complains each time the dentist does anything with her dentures (I know). It wouldn't matter how many times they were adjusted, Mom would be complaining by the following afternoon (she does).

The clinic scheduled their dentist visit for April 27, exactly two weeks after they had gotten their teeth back from the lab. The appointment was for both of them, which surprised me as Mom was the only one complaining. I didn't argue because, well, the thing is, Dad seemed to be developing an overbite. In fact, the overbite was getting worse by the day. Dad didn't complain, in fact, he said his teeth felt fine and he didn't need to go in. Mom disagreed. Even with her poor vision, she could see Dad was turning into Bugs Bunny.

In the office, the dentist was confused. How could their dentures not fit so soon after she had adjusted them? A close look at them and the dentist shook her head. She told my dad, "You've been using too much Fixodent." Dad looked at her blankly. The dentist sighed, took a deep breath and yelled, "YOU'VE BEEN USING TOO MUCH FIXODENT!"

"Really?" my Dad replied.

I know how much Fixodent they use. A lot. They keep a tube or two with them all the time. They put more in before meals. The dentist commented about how they must spend $10 per month on it. No, doc. They spend more like $25 per month on their Fix.

It seems Dad's dentures had such a build-up of dental adhesive, it was pushing the dentures about 3/4 of an inch away from his gums on top. He had not remembered to clean out the old stuff, either, and so it had turned into a cement like substance which was almost impossible to remove. They put Dad's teeth into the ultrasound cleaner in order to get the gunk off of them. The cement also took off the relining. The teeth would need to go back to the lab, this time to spend an entire week being put right.

Dad was not pleased. "But they feel fine!"

Fortunately, Mom's dentures were not as bad. She had also been overusing the Fixodent, but not to the same degree. It had thrown off how they fit, which I now know to be the reason she has always complained so soon after they are readjusted. Dentures that fit well do not need any adhesive.

Dad went home without his teeth. We made sure to tell him how cute he looked. He laughed, but didn't buy it. He won't venture out of the apartment until he has his teeth back. I will make a trip up there to take out all tubes of Fixodent and Polygrip. Dad's memory issues combined with habit would mean getting the dentures relined monthly, if we weren't careful.



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I've since found out that denture adhesive contains zinc and, among the effects of overusing the adhesive on dentures is the possibility of zinc poisoning. It's scary when I think of how much of this stuff my parents have been using!