When it comes time to talk about dentures, a lot of emotions can come into play. Some people will feel excitement to finally get rid of pain, tooth infections, broken and black teeth. Others will feel like they have failed, are too young for dentures, embarrassed that their teeth have gotten in the condition they are now. For many, it is a combination of many of these feelings but none the less they know something has to be done.
Let me start by saying that dentures aren't for everyone. They aren't the only way to replace teeth. However, they are the most affordable option to replace missing and failing teeth. I always take time during a denture consultation to explain to the patient that these are not natural teeth. They do not function like natural teeth, that do no feel like natural teeth. They are in-fact a prosthesis. Much like an artificial arm or leg, they are meant to serve as a replacement to help with the loss of what you were born with, but they will never be like the real thing. There are some advantages of choosing a denture. First and foremost - NO MORE CAVITIES. That's right if you have no natural teeth then you don't have to worry about dental decay, the pain associated with dental abcesses, the embarrassment the broken and black teeth with every smile you want to show. Also, no more flossing. It sounds silly but for many people spending time everyday brushing and flossing just doesn't happen. While your denture will need cleaned and it is recommended that you still brush your tongue and tissues, for many this is easier for them to commit to everyday. And of course the thing people love the most - white straight beautiful teeth. Dentures are a great way to quickyl change someones smile into something they can be proud of with every picture. Then there are the disadvantages - denture sores, difficulty chewing and eating some foods, dentures moving around or loosening, the loss of taste with the palate covered by plastic, and dealing with denture adhesives and creams just to name a few. For the most part, people that live with dentures do ok with these things on a upper denture, however talk to most patients and almost every dentist about a lower plate and you will get the dreaded look of NOOOOOOO!!!!!
LOWER DENTURES - I will almost never try to talk someone out of getting an upper plate if they really do have failing teeth. However, if you have a chance of holding onto lower teeth and doing at least a partial denture, I will highly advise you do so. Lower dentures MOST of the time do no get any kind of suction cup effect. Your tongue moves and with it the floor of the mouth, moving that denture around. As your stretch your mouth open the area where between your lips, teeth and cheeks stretch and push that denture up and around. Patients always look at dentist and say "but the lower one feels loose". Without dental implants there is not much your dentist can do about this. Therefore, before diving into a full lower denture, speak with your dentist about maybe a partial denture or if you need to do a full lower denture, having one that attaches on and off of a few implants to help hold it into place. This can increase your initial cost, but really improve the function and overall lifestyle of wearing a lower denture
I say all of this not to talk you out of getting dentures, but to help you understand the expectations one should have as they enter the journey. Speak with your friends that have been through the experience. As many dentist can only tell you from what our patients tell us. A first hand account from an actual denture wearer can really help someone who is contemplating how to replace their teeth. Ask your dentist as many questions that you need to, to feel comfortable moving forward. There are NO silly questions and as professionals we do no judge the condition of your teeth, so don't feel embarrassed. We are here to help. Life happens to all of us, as I tell my patients over and over - we can't change where we are at or what got us here, but we can move forward. Dentures definitely can meet the goals for many of my patients to help them move forward and smile again.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks I hope to bring you more information on the process of getting a denture made and of course you can always schedule a consultation with me to discuss what treatment may work best for you.
- Dr. Joshua Grooms, DDS