Dentures are plastic devices intended to replace teeth and
help a person chew, look better, sound better and improve their self-esteem. We
try to make the dentures as functional and natural as possible. If you have had
dentures before, our denture specific questionnaire will help determine what
you liked and disliked about any earlier dentures to help us make a more
comfortable and attractive denture.
A lot of people do
very well with their dentures and have few problems with them. More people have
problems with their dentures than they expected to have and often regret their
decision to have their teeth extracted. If you still have even some of your
teeth I recommend that you keep at least a few teeth especially on the bottom.
They will help keep the lower denture from moving or floating. A lot of people
donít wear or even carry their lower denture. The lower denture is most often
the problem denture and sometimes the only remedy is placing implants in the
jaw that the denture can attach to. Some people have been known to spend tens
of thousands of dollars getting implants to replace their dentures because they
are that unhappy with them. It is estimated that even a good set of dentures
only allows for 10% of the chewing efficiency of original teeth.
If you are someone who can not be seen in public without
your teeth, our best advice is to have a decent backup set of dentures and take
them with you when you travel. One of my patients lost her upper teeth when a
wave her just right. The teeth came out and some crab somewhere has one heck of
a smile. Needless to say, the rest of her vacation was ruined as she didnít
want to eat in public, let alone be seen. How embarrassed would you have been?
For appearance sake, I often recommend slightly turning one
of front teeth a hair or having it stick out just a touch. One of the giveaways
of wearing dentures is how the teeth look too much the same.
MORE DENTURE FACTS AND ADVICE
Once your teeth have been extracted, the bone that held the
teeth in no longer has anything to do, and it shrinks in most people. On the
upper, it moves up and in, on the lower it moves down and out. At the same
time, the teeth on the denture wear as well. The result is an older looking
face with more wrinkles. Itís a good idea to replace your dentures every six to
seven years to slow the growth of the wrinkles, which once there, are almost
impossible to get rid of. If too much time passes, the lips grow thin and
flatten and deep diagonal lines will from near the corners of the mouth. When
this happens, the muscles slowly shorten and you wonít be able to return to the
earlier shape and length of your face.
There are three important parts to dentures fitting and
working well. SUPPORT describes how well the underlying gums and cheeks keep
the denture from moving INTO the jaw in question. RETENTION describes how the
dentures moves vertically opposite to the jaw. STABILITY describes how the
denture moves side to side or front to back. Often times this is all related to
how much bone was left after the extractions. Patients with gum problems often
have less bone from the start. As you lose bone over time, all three
characteristics will get worse with time, though retention can often be helped
with adhesives. The stability will not be greatly improved and suction can be
broken by eating and even talking.
Sometimes someone insists on having their teeth extracted
and the dentures inserted at the same time. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes
it doesnít. The best way to have a denture fit well is to have no teeth present
for the impressions. Without having an opportunity to try in the denture, there
is no way to be certain what the appearance or bite will be like. Even if it is
a successful immediate denture, all of the jaw tissue will continue to shrink,
leading to a loose denture requiring a reline. Ninety percent occurs in reline.
Highly recommend making a brand new denture at two years totally independent of
the normal five year insurance waiting period. If you have to have an immediate
denture made, consider having the back teeth extracted allowing enough time for
the jaw and gums to heal and support the new denture.