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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK
Tooth loss 'hard to bear'
Losing a tooth can be traumatic
Almost half of people who have their teeth taken out by the dentist have difficulty in coming to terms with their loss, research suggests.

And a third of those fail ever to adjust to a life with dentures.

The research, published in the British Dental Journal, found that these people were more likely to feel less confident about themselves, and inhibited carrying out everyday activities.

They also had problems accepting the accompanying change in facial shape.

The research was based on 94 people who completed a questionnaire following routine treatment at the department of prosthestic dentistry at Guy's, King's and St Thomas' Dental Institute in London.

The impact of dentures
One patient in her 30s had not dated since she had dentures fitted at age 14
Another female patient in her 60s had not been out without another man since her husband left her, saying "who wants to date a woman with dentures"

Three-quarters of the people who were unprepared for the loss of their teeth, felt that an explanation from the dentist prior to dental extractions would have helped.

The researchers say: "The fact that 45% of the people in this study felt unprepared for the effect that the loss of their teeth would have on them, clearly indicates that people believe the dental profession is not doing all that it can to explain the effects of tooth loss."

Too anxious

They accept that in some cases dentists may have offered an explanation, but that the patient was too anxious to take it on board.

They suggest the best strategy would be to provide information about tooth loss at an appointment prior to the extraction day.

"Allowing time to absorb the information and to consider the consequences of tooth loss helps people to prepare emotionally for the event, as well as being in accordance with good practice in obtaining informed consent."

When I have restored their facial formation to what it should be like they really take on a new personality

Dr Nick Mohindra, expert in prosthodontics

Dr Nick Mohindra is a dentist who specialises in restoring patients' facial shape after they have had dentures fitted.

He said that wearing dentures prematurely aged the face because it decreased the gap between the nose and the chin, exaggerating the thinning of the lips and wrinkling of the skin associated with the ageing process.

"The psychological impact on a few of my patients has been so tremendous that when I have restored their facial formation to what it should be like they really take on a new personality - it gives them an entire new lease of life."

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