Hybrid Dentures and Eating for the Elderly

Hybrid Dentures and Eating for the Elderly

Hybrid Dentures and Eating for the Elderly was written by dietetics student Ashley Gelhaus, ACSM-CPT & reviewed/edited by Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND.

The mouth is the first route of nutrition. Hybrid dentures can help older adults eat better. This article includes information regarding implants, dentures, and the new technology made of a combination of both called hybrid dentures that are commonly used to fixed tooth loss and how this may affect your nutrition.

A brief disclaimer, this is by no means an extensive review or list of the options and prices out there in the market. For exact information if you are looking for dental procedures please contact your primary dentist to consult what the best options are for you. This is simply here to provide you with some information and hopefully give you some guidance!

What are Hybrid Dentures?

hybrid denturesMost people have heard of dentures. But did you know there are different types of dentures? Dentures can be broken down into two groups: traditional dentures and hybrid dentures. Hybrid dentures are simply a variation of traditional dentures.

For both types of dentures they can be broken down further into full dentures or partial dentures. Full dentures replace all of the teeth in the mouth. Partial dentures replace some of the teeth. Those with partial dentures still have some of their natural teeth.

Traditional dentures have been around for a long time. They are generally removable. Full dentures may be secured using adhesive. Partial dentures are usually attached to a natural tooth (known as an “anchor tooth”). Traditional dentures are usually removed daily for cleaning. You can learn more in our article on Dentures Before and After.

Hybrid dentures are a variation of modern dentures. New technology has opened the door for new denture options. Hybrid dentures are basically dentures set in place with a dental implant.  These typically do not need to be removed every day. They are a permanent set of teeth meant to look, feel, and function just like our natural teeth. You may also hear hybrid dentures referred to as permanent dentures or implant supported dentures.

Dental Implant Procedure

Hybrid dentures are attached using dental implants. A dental implant is meant to replace a natural tooth. Once dental implants are in place, a partial or full denture will be secured to the implants.

These implants are titanium posts and won’t decay like natural teeth. The process of placing implants takes several months and multiple procedures to allow the bone to grow around the implant.

Who can Benefit from Hybrid Dentures?

dentures before and afterHybrid dentures may not be the best fit for everyone.

To determine if you or someone you know is a good fit for hybrid dentures, set up an appointment with your dentist.

There are certain factors that are taken into account when considering someone for hybrid dentures. These include proper bone structure to support implants, proper bite alignment, any other existing health conditions, lifestyle habits that affect health of your teeth. This may include general health and strength of your immune system.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Dentures

Hybrid dentures are often preferred to traditional dentures. They are fixed into place in your mouth and typically require less maintenance than traditional dentures. Hybrid dentures are typically a more comfortable, less bulky option for patients. Because the hybrid dentures are implanted into the jaw they do not move around like classic dentures. This stability minimizes soreness from developing which is common with removable dentures.

Advantages of Hybrid Dentures

1) Easy Maintenance

Traditional dentures need to be removed and cleaned on a nightly basis whereas dental implants and hybrids can be cleaned like normal teeth. You do not need to remove hybrid dentures at all… in fact, you cannot remove them without professional care! You do not need to use certain denture cleaner or cream, just simply brush your teeth as normal.

2) Comfortable and Supportive

Traditional dentures can be very bulky and not as comfortable in the mouth. However, hybrid dentures are less bulky and fit more comfortably in your mouth.  Because hybrid dentures are screwed into place they also provide more support and cannot become dislodged during normal activities.

3) No Soreness

Because the hybrid dentures are an implant and are structured into your jaw, there will not be movement and rubbing like there would be with classic dentures. This  movement seen in classic dentures can cause soreness in the  mouth, but with the hybrid dentures you do not get this.

4) Increased taste

The hybrid denture leaves the upper palate completely open unlike classic dentures. Because of this, you can taste and enjoy food a lot more than you would be able to with classic dentures.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Dentures

1) Expensive

Hybrid dentures can be quite expensive. See the next section on the cost of hybrid dentures.

2) Longer process to get started

Because hybrid dentures require implants to be placed, it is a much longer process to get dentures started.

3) Implants may fail and denture can chip

Just like natural teeth, these full hybrid dentures could chip over a period of time. Additionally, the implant could fail though this in not common.

Cost of Hybrid Dentures

The over arching fee for hybrid dentures including extra tooth removal can be any where from $20,000-$50,000+. Traditional dentures are expensive as well, but not nearly the cost of hybrid dentures. Insurance seldom covers the cost of hybrid dentures at present. Although the hybrid dentures may be expensive, it is important to weigh all the pros and cons and determine what is best for you and for your long term health.

Dental Insurance for Older Adults

Most full dental insurance policies include some restorative coverage, however they often cover a small percentage of the cost of dentures. This might not include hybrid denture at all. Additionally, even those with insurance will still have to cover the financial cost of  deductibles and co-pays. Some insurance companies have a waiting period of 6 months to 1 year as a new patient before being able to use the coverage.

The most important thing to keep in mind when looking into insurance is making sure that your dental insurance covers dentures and which types (are hybrid dentures and implants included?). Check out the annual cap for reimbursement to make sure you are on the best plan for you.  Make sure to do your individual research and talk to someone to figure out the best plan for you and your needs.

How to Eat with New Dentures

Dentures are important to help individual to eat. Next we will review how to eat with new dentures- whether or not they are traditional or hybrid dentures. It is important to make sure that the mouth heals properly. Be sure not to push your new teeth too far too fast. Remember, these are a new addition to your body and you need time to adjust to it. Therefore, start off slow and steady. Start with small bites of soft foods. Staying away from really hard or chewy foods when starting.

As you start to learn how to chew with your dentures, do your best to evenly chew on both sides of your mouth.

Liquid Diet

When you first get your teeth pulled, an implant placed, or new dentures placed chewing can be difficult, painful, or even a risk for causing sores. However, nutrition is important and needed in the healing process. In the beginning start with liquid foods that require no chewing.

Liquid dietLiquid foods to start with:

  • Smoothies
  • Shakes
  • Juice
  • Broths
  • Liquid soups
  • Milk
  • Plant-based milks
  • Meal replacement drinks

Mechanical Soft Diet

Starting with soft foods allows your mouth and new teeth to not work too hard but help you get used to eating with your new dentures. Mechanical soft foods are chopped well and soft. These foods won’t place as much pressure on your mouth when chewing helping your dentures feel more comfortable.

mechanical soft dietSoft foods to start with include:

  1. Eggs
  2. Fish
  3. Mashed potatoes
  4. Apple Sauce
  5. Cooked Cereals
  6. Pudding
  7. Cooked Vegetables
  8. Ice cream

Resuming Regular Foods

When you start to transition to more regular foods, continue to cut your food into tiny pieces. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of time for a meal in order to prevent any pain or discomfort from your dentures or slippage from rushing through a meal.

Tips to keep in mind when you resume regular foods:

  • Chew on both sides in order to distribute food evenly as you chew.
  • Chew slowly and thoroughly before swallowing.
  • Take small bites so that they are easier to chew.
  • Drink liquids with your meals in order to help foods go down a little easier.
  • Avoid hard to chew meats like red meats and poultry. Instead choose protein sources such as fish, eggs, and legumes to prevent excessive pressure on the dentures and gums. Or ground, soft, or moist red meats and poultry.
  • Avoid sticky or gummy foods. These foods can stick to the upper and lower molars and can dislodge the dentures. These foods include taffy, caramel, marshmallows, peanut butter, and dried fruit.

Once your dentures are fully healed, you should be able to eat almost anything without problems. However, some foods, like foods that are really sticky, may always be hard to eat. In that case, either try not to eat them too often or make sure to eat with extra caution.

Eating After Implants

Similarly to eating when you first start dentures, you need to be mindful of how you eat after getting your implants placed.

Right after implants it is important to stick to soft foods and liquids in order to protect the affected area. Hard foods can worsen the pain and swelling. For the first few days it is best to choose foods that require minimal chewing. Examples include, soup, protein drinks, and juice. After a few days you can start to move to softer foods. These soft foods are similar to above and include yogurt, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, soft bread, macaroni and cheese, cooked vegetables, etc.

Most people heal within a few weeks of their implants and can start to move to a more normal diet. However, hard foods should be avoided until pain is reduced and you are mostly healed and your oral surgeon gives you the okay to move forward. Refer to guidance from for denture provider for individual and specific diet information.

It is important to continue to eat as one is healing. Food provides the nutrition your body needs for healing. Therefore, making sure to eat things like protein shakes and smoothies can help get in needed nutrients without needed to chew much in the beginning stages of healing.

Conclusion

Hybrid dentures are great alternative to traditional dentures. There are pros and cons to starting either type of denture. Eating with new dentures can present a new challenge, but overtime your nutrition quality will likely improve as a result of getting a quality set of dentures.

Be sure to check out our other articles on oral health, including:

Best of luck your new dentures and eating!

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