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How can you prevent patients losing dentures in hospital?

Posted by:

3 March, 2014

One day a ward sister asked a student nurse to clean all the patients’ dentures. The student got a bowl, collected the dentures and cleaned them. The rest of the shift was spent trying to find which dentures belonged to which patients.

I love these old nursing tales but this one illustrates the problem associated with keeping patients and their dentures together. How many patients wrap their dentures in tissues which are then thrown away?

 

What do you think?

  • How can we prevent the loss of dentures and hearing aids?
  • Do you have any tips?
  • Does loss of dentures and hearing aids impact on patient recovery? Is there any evidence?

Readers' comments (18)

  • Liz Charalambous

    I really hope we can find the answer to this perennial problem, it makes such a difference to the quality of the hospital experience and has been found to help with prevention of delirium in older people if patients have access to their dentures, glasses and hearing aids. I suspect the answer lies with staff involvement rather than equipment as there have always been dentures pots available. If we just 'THINK DENTURES' every time we change a bed, throw away rubbish, and pack up a patients belongings I bet we could reduce the number of lost dentures. A set of dentures costs around £240! Not to mention the problems associated with not being able to eat.

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  • Eileen Shepherd

    you are repeating my story from another page, which I wrote this weekend, without referencing it or is it a common theme? Do anonymous comments here become the property of NT, or common property or do the same rules of copyright still apply? If I take any printed information from here to reproduce elsewhere I always reference it even it if is anonymous. It happened when I was a third year student in charge of the ward and a first year was delegated to clean the dentures.

    I find it very serious when hospitals lose personal property of patients and especially something as essential as dentures or glasses which are inconvenient to do without and costly to replace. hopefully the hospital address the problem as rapidly as possible and meet the costs. Sometimes too patients are admitted as an emergency or from the street and may have costly jewelry or other valuables on them which should be dealt with appropriately to prevent their loss.

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  • eileen shepherd

    Thanks for your comments. The story about the dentures was told to me when I was a student and I am sure many nurses have heard it. As I mentioned it is a very old nursing tale retold over the years.
    The idea for this discussion came from comments on Twitter and by email early last week with Liz who has commented above. The aim is to raise awareness of the problem and try and share useful ideas. It would be great to find some solutions

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  • tinkerbell

    Denture fix is good for 'loose' dentures but for losing dentures you can have the persons name imprinted into the denture material on the base of the denture. One of the homes I visit employs this technique.

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  • eileen shepherd

    Good idea Tinkerbell
    Do you know who does the imprinting?

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  • tinkerbell

    Eileen, it's like an engraving into the denture, I don't know who does it but I can ask the home and find out. Neat idea and brilliantly simple. I'll post back the answer when I get back to work tomorrow as will phone them up and find out.

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  • eileen shepherd

    Thank you!

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  • Liz Charalambous

    I've heard that story many, many times too, first time on my 1st ward back in 1984!

    I have heard about the imprinting method and seen dentures with this on but there is some evidence to suggest it may encourage debris to collect and cause bacterial infections, see here... http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3125953/



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  • tinkerbell

    Denture marking.. - Talking Point - Alzheimer's Society




    forum.alzheimers.org.uk/showthread.php?21227-Denture-marking..?






    Taken from Alzheimers society web page, apparently most dentists will do this for free.


    'When my mum was seen by a dentist in her last care home, the dentist engraved her name on her dentures for free, and there was no charge ...'

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  • Liz Charalambous | 3-Mar-2014 5:32 pm


    I can't see that there would be any more debris on the engraving than there is on and between the teeth, to be honest.

    I was around in 1973, and someone did put all the teeth in one bowl, not me, I hasten to add. However, then dentures always got a good clean every day, as did mouths, eyes, navels and other orifices.

    Shouldn't they be documented on the property list, and if they have been brought in, be documented on a care plan, and made sure they are in mouths/ears or denture pots/ hearing aid cases/or another suitable storage box/area before linen or rubbish is disposed of.

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  • you might want to proof read your headlines before publishing-losing not loosing!
    Small things like this 'lose' your credibility as if you can't get that right -what else have you overlooked?

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  • tinkerbell

    B R | 3-Mar-2014 7:57 pm

    Agreed.
    Especially when you find someone else is wearing someone elses dentures, yes it happens. On our severe dementia unit we found dentures everywhere, tucked into undergarments etc., not necessarily their own dentures, people who had somehow managed to put the bottom dentures in their mouth as their top denture.

    Dentures are important for helping people to chew properly, know it sounds obvious, but without dentures our patients could become more of a choking risk, have to go on soft or pureed diet and miss out on the quality and taste of their food, not enjoy their food so much and start to lose weight, so the fact that we can identify who owns which dentures is a positive step forward and that is more important than any added bacteria that might be attracted to the tiny engraving on the denture, in my opinion.

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  • Kathryn Godfrey

    Hi
    The engraving sounds a good idea. Unfortunately engraving would not have helped my mother's lost dentures. She was in hospital for many weeks and one day I visited to find the dentures were not in her mouth nor in the pot. The staff to their credit took the missing dentures hunt very seriously and after a through search of the linen skips they were found. They must have fallen out when she was asleep. My sister and I always cleaned them when we visited -- I didn't feel it was something that was done regularly. It's not a very nice task!

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  • Kathryn Godfrey | 4-Mar-2014 9:41 am

    something we did routinely everyday and not nearly as bad as having to remove a glass eye and clean it in my view! However, not being a very nice task is in no way an excuse not to do it and the longer you put it off the worse it gets.

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  • tinkerbell

    I checked with some of the homes to find out where they get the engraving done on the dentures, it seems the community dental team know of this facility and can visit the homes and do the engraving.

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  • Perhaps we should get the fancy screw in teeth that the celebs get, like Tom Cruise/ Jimmy Carr/ Richard Hammond, only need a bit of tip-ex and hey presto, looking like new.

    I must admit that my two favourite jobs, indeed the only things stopping me from changing my career path, are the scrubbing of false teeth and the cleaning of manky spectacles. By 2050 that will have died out for future nurses, with everyone having acryllic teeth and lasered-perfect eyes.

    Can we have an article about being sent to stores for a pair of Fallopian tubes, or a long stand/ tartan toothpaste? Or lactulose baths for those people leaving, and how they had to shave their heads to get the damned stuff off?

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  • tinkerbell

    redpaddys12 | 6-Mar-2014 5:37 am

    Please don't make light of such serious problems, I won a pair of fallopian tubes at a deep vein tombola but had to find a good home for them as they kept jumping out of the pram.

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  • When I was an auxiliary nurse in the 1980s we had a system for engraving dentures ourselves. There was a special scratchy sort of pen and a varnish that you painted over the top. We had a trolley that we took round at night to clean patient's dentures of assist with cleaning their own teeth and the engraving kit was part of our routine.

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