I’ve heard many descriptions when it comes to patients describing denture movement. Terms like wobbly, slippery, and rocky are how people tell me about trying to eat or speak with an ill-fitting denture.
Quite frankly, the problem has less to do with the denture and more to do with what it sits on.
Dentures are designed to hold replacement teeth using a gum-colored base that sits on the ‘arch’ where your natural tooth roots were once held. This arch is actually the upper or lower jaw bone, covered over with gum tissue.
When your tooth roots were present in the jaw, they kept the bone stimulated. This stimulation enabled the bone to maintain its mass, so it stayed at a healthy height and depth. Once the tooth roots were removed, however, the lack of stimulation caused the bone to shrink.
The term for bone loss from this process is known as ‘resorption.’ Resorption is actually a slow process, so it is not obvious when it first begins. Think of it like a small leak in a basketball. At first, the ball continues to bounce fine. Over time, the leak shows up and, eventually, it is an obstacle to using the ball as it is intended.
When your denture was first made, it was made to conform to the existing height and width of the arch, or ‘ridge.’ Once resorption became obvious, however, it was probably while eating.
Biting and chewing require stability of teeth. An arch that is shrinking in size no longer conforms to the contours for which a denture is originally made. Initially, using more denture adhesive or paste may help. Over time, though, movement is more than likely an obvious problem when eating.
Because bone loss creates movement when eating, long-time denture wearers often adjust their diets to soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. This not only limits the variety of fresh, fibrous foods necessary for good nutrition, digestion is also compromised. It is a fact that people who wear dentures have more gastrointestinal problems than those who have their own teeth.
While uncomfortable movement when eating is a challenge, fear of embarrassing slips or clicks also causes some denture wearers to decline social invitations that include meals or gatherings around food. Research has shown that staying socially involved is a healthy part of aging.
In one study published by the Center For Advancing Health, older adults who stayed actively engaged on a social level developed cognitive and physical limitations more slowly than did those with low levels of engagement. (http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2011/socially-active-older-adults-have-slower-rates-of-health-declines)
When the jaw bone shrinks, it affects more than just the fit of your dentures. A shrinking jaw causes changes to your facial appearance, including the formation of jowls as facial muscles detach from the declining bone mass.
Deep wrinkles form around the mouth as the jaw bone resorbs and the chin becomes more pointed. While a denture plumps up the face when in place, the extent of bone loss may be more obvious by looking in the mirror without the denture.
While we want to provide each patient with the tooth replacement choice that best suits their needs, a denture that is “wobbly” will remain a problem. Relines can help, but as the bone loss continues to flatten out the arch, the denture will start to move again.
We recommend dental implants so highly because they halt the rate of bone loss by recreating stimulation to the bone. Additionally, implants are held by the jaw bone, just as your natural tooth roots once were. This restores a stable foundation for biting and chewing, speaking and laughing.
There are many different types of implants designed for various needs. Some are designed to be positioned in minimal bone depth. For others, bone rebuilding procedures may be needed (or desired) to restore the bone to a healthy mass.
Eating, laughing, feeling confident socially and even sneezing should not be overshadowed with discomfort or fear of embarrassment. Let’s discuss your options and associated costs for dental implants during a free consultation appointment.
Afterward, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss payment options with you. Some require no down payment and are interest-free. You could be making easy, monthly payments while feeling confident and comfortable as you chew an apple or laugh with friends!
Call 586-739-2155 to schedule a time.