Breaking the terrible taboo on dentures

  • Reclusive ‘Miss’ waited 27 years to break the silence

  • 200,000 new denture wearers in the UK every year

  • Case was a lesson in the power of quality dentures

The butt of every comedian’s joke since Dick Emery’s famous horse-faced vicar sketch in the ‘70s, false teeth can be anything but a laughing matter.

Often unwearable, they are dumped in the back of a drawer along with the countless smiles – and confidence – that the rest of us take for granted.

In this article, we set about breaking the terrible taboo on dentures.

After a lifetime’s work to break the taboo of talking dentures, we’re still getting people into the Denture Clinic who, at their wits’ end, feel they have run out of options.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but dealing with ill-fitting dentures, or as one patient aptly described, “clumsy choppers,” can still be hampered by a large wall of often-silent embarrassment.

We find it appalling that so many denture wearers believe they are second-class citizens, who have to tolerate discomfort and prosthetics that neither look good or function properly.

Dick Emerey vicar

Dick Emerey

Firstly, those who wear dentures they need to know there is hope of living without sore spots, crushingly embarrassing ‘denture moments’, teeth that will not remain in place and buckets of fixatives.

On average there are 200,000 new denture wearers in the UK every year, and they are not all senior people.

It’s bizarre, but did you know that more women than men wear dentures, despite visiting the dentist more regularly?

In the past, we have worked alongside Age UK and our marketing has always been information driven . . . the aim? To be able to share our skills, recover smiles and to educate those who suffer in silence.

Breaking the terrible taboo on dentures

The reluctant actress

There is one case that forever will remain in our memories. In the early years of the Denture Clinic, a spritely 70-something-year-old came into the surgery. For nearly 30 years this lovely lady had lived an almost reclusive life.

Having had a full clearance of her teeth, she was prescribed dentures. Her experience was awful with that prescription, she never returned to her dentist to get things adjusted.

In her own words, she had become “the reluctant actress,” so desiring social interaction, but never allowing anyone to get close and know her secret – her painful dentures.

For 27 years she excused herself from family events, hardly spoke, avoided friends and at work was viewed as the banking hall’s ‘professional Miss.’

Ordinary things like going out shopping and visiting the doctors were always an ordeal for her. In the privacy of our surgery, she recalled how when visiting her GP her teeth fell out when he asked to see her throat.

27 years to pluck up the courage

And it took her 27 years to pluck up the courage to do something about her dental problem. In her words, she “had no confidence left.”

Her case was difficult, the legacy of a stroke affecting the one side of her face, but after five visits, some honest chat and new dentures, we sent our media man to interview her. His ‘trophy’ from that interview was a picture of her with a partly eaten Cox’s apple she had been able to bite.

After a life on hold, it emerged she “couldn’t shut up talking,” was going out for meals and living spontaneously.

It was the first time we realised the transforming power that proper, well-made and thought out, quality dentures could make.

She thanked us for the new teeth and said this: “I want people, who were like me, to know there’s a way out from living in the shadows. I only hope it doesn’t take them 27 years.”

That terrible taboo had effectively robbed her of finding a solution sooner. We’d love to think her call to action sooner than later is heeded.

It really must be one of society’s last remaining taboos. We don’t expect anyone who is going through troubled times with false teeth to make it public. Our consultations are private, confidential and friendly. What’s more, the initial consult for our dedicated denture provision is complimentary and with Practice Principal Steven Burchell DipCDT RCS(Eng). We do, however, need you to tell us the dental problems you may have.

Today’s dentures bear little resemblance to those from generations past. And while many people clearly still believe dentures are a taboo topic, think about other such taboos that have fallen by the wayside.

Hair color, cosmetic surgery, Botox ­– all now taken for granted.

Is it time for you to think about breaking the terrible taboo on dentures and come out of the shadows?