In an ideal world, we would never have cavities, gum disease, or lose a tooth. Even then, the world might not be ideal, but we wouldn’t have such difficulties.
Unfortunately, many people lose their teeth as a result of tooth decay or periodontal disease, necessitating tooth replacement. Despite the growing popularity and acceptance of dental implants as prosthetic tooth substitutes, removable dentures remain the most commonly used option for missing teeth.
If a person still has some natural teeth, they may be fitted with what is known as a “removable partial denture.” If they have lost all of their teeth, they will normally be fitted with a full denture. However, a common issue is that once the dentures are manufactured, patients tend to wear them much beyond the point where the denture continues to work properly.
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A little background on the denture issue may help explain why this is the case:
Some people believe that removing all of their teeth and replacing them with dentures will put an end to their dental troubles. This is far from the case. In reality, patients merely exchange one set of oral problems for another. While many patients will tell you that they eat quite fine with their dentures, it is likely that they have forgotten what it is like to eat normally because it has been so long since they had their natural teeth.
What are some of the drawbacks of using dentures?
- You can lose up to 50% of your biting force.
- A full upper denture covers your palate and makes it difficult to taste your meal.
- When you eat, speak, cough, or sneeze, your dentures may shift.
- Following a meal, food builds around your dentures.
- When the hard denture pushes against your gums, sore spots might form.
Patients with an active gag reflex may find it difficult to wear a denture without feeling as though they will gag.
As the shape of your mouth changes, multiple relines of the denture may be required. This can occur as a result of weight gain or loss, as well as bone shrinkage and ageing.
Suction with the denture may be unable to develop due to atrophy of the upper or lower jaws.
How long can they be expected to last?
This is an intriguing subject because it is very uncommon to meet patients who claim their denture was constructed twenty or even thirty years ago. Believe me, at that time, they are rarely attractive dentures! However, it highlights an aspect of denture wear that is not well understood.
Most patients expect – and can experience – high retention and stability after a denture is constructed and, providing it fits well at the time of delivery.
But the main point is that once produced, dentures do not change. Your mouth, on the other hand, can and frequently does. New drugs might also make your mouth dry, causing discomfort and sore places. Jaw shrinking may occur as a result of osteoporosis. Despite these changes, many patients use denture adhesives to compensate for new difficulties. Unfortunately, this can lead to even more irritation, and zinc-containing denture lotions have even been related to other health issues such as numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.
While relines can help with these changes and improve denture retention, many patients would be well to consider re-making their dentures after roughly five to seven years. Waiting too long after that time period, in my experience, might make the transition to a new denture more challenging.
When the shift is minor, as one might expect after roughly five years, the adjustment is usually relatively simple. It’s also a good idea to keep a backup denture on hand for those “oops!” occasions. Over the years, I’ve seen patients drop dentures into the sink while washing them, drop them into garbage disposals by accident, had dogs and cats nibble on them, and more. Patients will bite into hard items and break a tooth, they will take them out at night and sit on them, they will be stepped on – and one was even stolen! That was simply too bizarre a storey to tell here.
If your denture is more than five years old, consult with your dentist to see if it is time to reline or remake it. You’ll be glad you did it.
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