“If I could turn back the hands of time, I’d have taken much better care of my teeth.”
This is a statement I hear often from patients who have worn a full or partial denture for years. While preventing decay and gum disease generally takes mere minutes a day, the repercussions of not doing so are severe considering the inevitable transition to “false teeth.”
In our office, we don’t lecture or judge. Quite frankly, tooth loss can occur from causes other than insufficient oral hygiene. Sports injuries, accidents, disease and even a higher susceptibility to particular strains of oral bacteria can result in missing teeth.
The leading cause of adult tooth loss is periodontal (gum) disease, which is easy to prevent for most people. The age-old brush-&-floss routine, coupled with twice a year dental checkups and cleanings, is the best way to enjoy fresh breath, healthy gums and no cavities.
For those who have lost natural teeth, however, the options for tooth replacement include dental implants, crown-&-bridge, full dentures and partial dentures. However, when an individual is missing all upper or lower teeth, the choices narrow — full dentures or dental implants.
The frustrations associated with dentures are pretty much universal. People often complain they are uncomfortable, causing sore spots on tender gums while eating. They also claim they create an ever-looming shadow of worry, since embarrassing slips or clicks tend to occur at the worst possible moments.
Bad breath is another common issue associated with dentures. The gum base that holds replacement teeth is made from a porous material. These pores give oral bacteria tiny homes to live in. Because bacteria are living organisms that eat to survive, it must also be acknowledged that they excrete waste.
In an article posted by RDH (a publication for registered dental hygienists), bad breath was addressed as a particular concern of denture wearers (http://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-27/issue-7/feature/5-things-you-should-know-about-dentures.html)
“Eighty-seven percent of denture wearers report that malodor is a major concern. Because the body’s scent receptors become accustomed to a smell they are exposed to frequently, patients rightly fear that they may not be able to detect odor coming from their dentures.”
Another concern noted for those who sleep in their dentures is the heightened risk for health challenges, especially for aging adults. They point out that “research has isolated Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, and hundreds of other garden-variety germs in acrylic dentures.”
An unknown issue for many denture wearers that is associated with sleeping in dentures is bone loss. The pressure of a denture on the ridge (the arch under the denture, where tooth roots were once held) causes the bone to shrink in height. As this ridge flattens, the fit of a denture becomes less and less secure. For those who sleep in their dentures, the all day/all night pressure speeds this process even more.
In addition to a ‘slippery’ denture, bone loss causes changes to facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years. For example, as facial muscles detach from the shrinking jaw bone structure, jowls form. The chin points as the bone thins and the mouth appears to sink into the face. This collapsed structure creates what’s known as a ‘granny look.’
Obviously, the challenges of wearing dentures are many. This is why so many adults are opting for dental implants. Yet, the only deterrent — being cost — can often be overcome for people who are missing all of their upper and/or lower teeth.
In some cases, just four or six dental implants can be placed to support a full arch of teeth. Because the cost of implant treatment is based on the number of implants placed, this helps greatly in curtailing expenses.
One particular implant system, the All On Four, is designed to support a full arch of replacement teeth using just 4 dental implants. These are placed at angles that efficiently distribute the load of biting and chewing. And, since just four implants are used for the upper or lower, the cost is often surprisingly manageable.
We work closely with all patients so they can enjoy the benefits of preferred dental treatment while making easy monthly payments. For edentulous patients (patients missing ALL upper or lower teeth), this can mean the difference between struggling to eat with a wobbly denture or having the ability to indulge in a healthy diet of foods that are delicious and supportive to good health.
Since we can’t turn back the hands of time, let’s look at ways to create a happier, healthier you for the time ahead! Begin with a free consultation. I’ll answer your questions and make recommendations, including comfort options suited to any dental anxiety or fears you may have.
While you’re here, you can also meet with our Financial Coordinator. For years, Deb has been our resident whiz at combining payment options and insurance that result in easy payment terms. Most payment plans are interest-free with no down payment required.
Call 586-739-2155 to schedule your consultation. I look forward to meeting you!