Dentures – The emotional and physical ramifications discussed.

Even though this article may not pertain to you there is most likely someone in your life who has dentures or will need them in the future.  There are around 40 million Americans who are denture wearers so this is applicable to many readers.

When a person needs to have their teeth removed due to dental decay or periodontal disease there are both physical and emotional issues that need to be addressed. If at all possible it is usually best to save the teeth and fabricate a removable partial denture (sometimes referred to as a bridge) that attaches to the remaining natural teeth.  If this is done properly and maintained with regular dental visits and cleanings it should provide years of service to the patient.  If for some reason the natural teeth can’t be saved then dentures are inevitable.

  • Emotional: Loosing a tooth or many teeth is a significant event on one’s life as it may lead to the feeling of getting older, depression because they experience the loss of one of their body parts, or the fact that they are so embarrassed because they feel like a failure which can lead to depression and the need for themselves to become recluse.  A huge fear that denture wearers have is that if they sneeze or laugh too much that the denture will fall out.   This is a reality and a huge embarrassment for those who have a loose fit in their dentures.  It is necessary to be supportive to those who we love when they go through this process.  It also takes time to adjust to dentures since they are foreign plastic plates that are only held in by suction on the top denture and just sit there on the lower.  Lower dentures sit on top of the bone with the lips pushing them one way and the tongue pushing them the other.  Food doesn’t taste the same with dentures because the upper plate covers the palate and therefore temperature is not transferred. Denture wearers can only generate about 25% of the biting force as those who have natural teeth so it is very difficult to bite down hard to chew hard food.
  • Physical: There are many changes that take place after loosing teeth.  After a tooth is lost the bone that used to support it starts to collapse into the hole.  Placing an implant in the extraction site can preserve the bone and be used to hold a denture in with a snap in fit.
  • Effects of bone loss: Over time as bone shrinks the face can become more sunken in because there isn’t enough support for the lips and face so things start to sag.  Dentures can be made to add needed underlying support to look more youthful and natural. It amazes me when a denture is properly made what a difference it makes.  It is also necessary to place the teeth in the proper position so the patient looks natural and not like their teeth are too long or too short.

It is obvious that those who are currently using dentures or those who will be in need of them in the future are literally dental handicaps.  These are prosthetic and are only a substitute for the natural teeth.  If at all possible we will attempt to use at least some of the natural teeth to support the denture.  Everyone is different and their mouths present with different issues.

It becomes apparent to those who are neglecting their teeth that they need to make a decision for their future by taking care of them and getting them examined.  I have seen a number of young adults who sip on pop and sports drinks throughout the day who have decay throughout the mouth.  Unfortunately some of them will need to have their teeth removed and the shame is that this is all preventable.

What is common is that everyone wants to look nice, eat well and avoid embarrassment.  Even though dentures are difficult to get used to and aren’t like natural teeth a well made set can make a difference.  Contact our dental office in Shelby Township, Michigan (Macomb County) at (586)247-3500 for a free dental consultation to see if we can help you out.

About The Author

Dr. Robert Antolak, DDS graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987 with his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality and appropriate cosmetic, sedation and general dentistry in the most comfortable and gentle way possible. Because being a dentist has been a lifelong dream, Dr. Antolak has a passion for the profession. He enjoys helping people feel better about their smiles and therefore their self-image with dental implant and cosmetic dentistry. His Dental Practice is located in Shelby Township, Michigan.  For more information visit The Gentle Dentist.