We’d like to discuss a problem today with the hopes of raising some awareness, and to perhaps, offer some useful strategies to our audience.
When Dentures Are Lost…
We had a call to our office from a person inquiring about lost dentures. It seems that her elderly mother-in-law had “lost” her dentures during a brief hospital visit. They were her only pair of dentures and they were frustrated that they received very little assistance or sympathy from the hospital staff.
They turned to us for replacement dentures and advice on how any future loss can be avoided.
The loss of personal items during a hospital experience or while saying at a long-term care facility is indeed a frustrating issue for everyone. In the case of dentures, patients lose their ability to eat effectively, which in turn, restricts their diet, compromises their nutrition and eventually complicates other medical conditions. Repeated losses can become very costly.
Medical facilities are often big, busy places usually employing many staff members concentrating on your well-being while trying to keep you and your belongings together – a challenging task. Losing items can have a huge impact on a patient’s safety, comfort and their ability to communicate effectively.
Most healthcare centres have loss prevention protocols in place to help reduce the likelihood of missing items, but unfortunately, most do not accept responsibility for a patient’s personal belongings. To ensure a comfortable stay there are certain assistive items like hearing aids, dentures, and eyewear that are essential to a patient.
A number of our other patients who work in a variety of healthcare facilities tell us that keeping track of personal items can become difficult especially if the patient is being moved between different care areas within the building during their stay. If big items like wheelchair and prosthetic limbs can be lost it is understandable why so many smaller things go missing.
Another issue, unfortunately, is “theft.” This seems to be the issue in long-term and retirement homes. There is more freedom of movement among the residents and dementia-related incidences are common. We are told that there are residents who are just as likely to “hide” their own items as there are those who like to “collect” another’s belongings.
In this day of GPS locators and associated Apps you would think that a simple solution would have already been designed – something embedded or affixed to important items that would make it easier to track and locate them. We’ve scoured the internet and called around to a number of dental laboratories, and, although there are a few such technologies in the works, nothing really simple and practical is available yet. Until then, here’s a few preventative/ follow-up measures:
Responding to the Problem…
1. It would be wise to make an inventory list of your belongings at the beginning of your stay. Consider keeping receipts and taking a picture of all personal belongings as a record in case of loss.
2. Monitor your items closely especially when your room is being cleaned or you are taken to another area or room. Visiting family members should also take an inventory of your belongings frequently. The sooner an item is noticed missing and reported the higher the incident of return.
3. For storage and protection use a container for each of your items or consider using a larger case with compartments for each item. Label the container and include your full name, address and telephone numbers. Providing an email and alternative telephone number may also help the efforts of the person trying to locate you.
4. To avoid accidental disposal or damage, never wrap your items in tissue paper or napkins or leave them on your meal tray where they could be taken away.
5. Ask questions beforehand. What is the facility’s policy regarding the care of patient’s personal items? Who do you contact in the event of loss or disputes? Do the healthcare workers and maintenance staff take the necessary care when changing the bedding, emptying the garbage, or taking away meal trays?
6. Ask your dentist about the possibility of having a permanent label placed or engraved into the acrylic material of the denture.
7. Some facilities use handheld and mounted detectors much like the alarm systems that is activated if a person leaves a store with an item that has not been scanned. They can locate lost items that have been misplaced or are moved outside of their designated areas by reading the radio frequency tags that are placed onto personal items. An example of a company that provides this technology is Scandent. Here’s a patent we found Locator for Lost Dentures.
8. In many cases, dental implants take the place of dentures or can safely secure loose or ill-fitting ones. If you would like more information or would like to find out if you or your loved one is a candidate for dental implants call us today at (905) 5SMILES. For more information read our article Are Implants Right for Me?
It can be frustrating and exhausting…
How many countless hours are spent by families and healthcare staff looking for lost belongings, trying to resolve any disputes over the matter and establishing better prevention strategies? Many times, particularly with the elderly, a person may be unable to care for themselves let alone their belongings. Their family must be vigilant in their efforts to ensure that not only is their loved one being taken care of properly and their medical issues dealt with, but that their personal belongings are also being kept safe and secure.
If you have a solution or know of one in the works, we’d love to hear from you – or drop us a line below with your denture loss story! Together, we might be able to help others with this growing problem.
Yours in Better Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team