Even Madonna Faces Denture Stigma
At this year’s Coachella festival, pop icon Madonna gave the rapper Drake a provocative, mouthy kiss on stage. Unfortunately, the kiss turned ugly––Drake’s onstage reaction was described as “disgusted” in publications like US Magazine. Even uglier was the media storm: videos and articles went viral, and social media channels were clogged with jokes and insults like whether Madonna had lost her denture in Drake’s mouth. The notion that Madonna wears a denture is used as a joke, a straightforward invective insinuating she is old and/or unappealing. The joke illustrates that stigma against dentures – and by extension, denture wearers – is alive and well. This is something denture wearers are intimately aware of, as evidenced by a survey released in May.
The Biting Into Denture Care survey conducted by Survata provides some insight into denture stigmas. Perhaps the most telling was that nearly 63% of denture wearers said they’d kept their dentures a secret from someone. Of these, 32% didn’t tell their friends, 10% their sibling(s). Seven percent of denture wearers even managed to keep it a secret from their spouse.
The survey also revealed:
- The biggest misconception about dentures is that they’re only for grandma and grandpa (59%)
- More than half (53%) of respondents were 44 years of age or younger when they first got dentures
- Nearly two in five (38%) denture wearers admit that wearing dentures has affected their career, with 37% intimidated to network with other professionals and 33% experiencing a lack of confidence in meetings
- Nearly a quarter of respondents have avoided going on job interviews
- 20% are afraid to smile
- 10% have avoided certain social situations like eating at parties or weddings
- 42% said their dentures had a negative impact on their love life, with a quarter (24%) afraid to kiss someone passionately
“It is clear from these survey findings that denture wearers’ relationship with dentures is complicated,” said Joe Buttermore, Senior Brand Manager for Polident and Super Poligrip. “We see a need to make a positive shift to people’s belief systems about wearing dentures.”
Surveys like this show how negative the impact can be on one’s life. The difficult thing about stigmas is that they’re upheld and reinforced by each of us; the flip side of this is we all have the ability to reduce them.
Dental care providers, for their part, can help reduce stigmas by doing two simple things: treating denture patients with the utmost respect, and making an effort to dispel the stigma. Simple things like saying “You’d be surprised to know who wears dentures” convey they’re not alone. Denture wearers come in all varieties. You know this, but they might not, and it could make a positive difference in how they see themselves.
A lot of the stigma is based on things that simply aren’t true. As the survey indicates, most denture wearers started long before they were senior citizens. Also, natural-looking dentures are not as hard to find as they once were. Ensuring your patients have a safe, quality denture that fits and looks right can mean the difference between smiling with pride or hiding in shame.
Stigmas are just stories, and stories can be re-imagined. If 24% are afraid to kiss passionately because of their denture, then 76% aren’t. Madonna (maybe) included.