You should know that you can eat without your teeth slipping around. Laughing shouldn’t have to also include covering your mouth in case your teeth slip. You should be able to smile and know it’s a smile you can be proud of. Whether you have all of your teeth, some of your teeth, or none of your original teeth, you should have a mouth that is comfortable and functions well. You should also love how it looks.
The truth is most people don’t. The problem is 20 years ago, dentistry was nothing like it is today. There are so many more options for how to keep teeth healthy or how to get teeth healthy. In fact, when many of us were born, it was expected that if we live long enough, we would have to figure out how to live in a denture. Today, even if you don’t have any of your own teeth, you don’t have to live with a denture!
The history of dentures
Some of the earliest attempts at replacing teeth with dentures were carved from ivory. These were attached to plates and held in place by springs, but they did little beyond adding teeth into a smile. In fact, this is what George Washington wore. Well, one of the several sets of teeth he had, because none of them were comfortable. It’s also hard to imagine that any of them would actually chew food either! When we discovered rubbers, an early form of rubber called vulcanite was used as the denture plate. Then, the porcelain teeth was attached to the rubber with little pins.
In the early 1900s, we started using acrylic rather than the rubber, and the teeth got better. We were actually able to make the teeth tooth-shaped, so they would chew food and the denture could be built to have suction. At least initially. Unfortunately, the bone under the gums dissolves away over the years and every year the denture fits a little less. The slight slipping and sliding irritates the bone, and actually accelerates the bone loss!
While we have advanced a lot over the years, it is still accurate to call a denture an ‘oral wig’ and it isn’t surprising that people aren’t comfortable wearing them. In fact, the lower one has so little to stabilize it that the current baseline standard of care is to anchor the lower denture with two implants and some snaps to help hold it in place. The simple reality is one person in five actually eats better without their dentures in their mouth! People who are trying to live in full dentures take an average of 28% more medication for GI issues. Even today, a lot of people who wear dentures have one set for smiling and another set for eating, and aren’t really happy with either one!
The future of dentures
As we have gotten better at keeping the mouth healthy, we are losing fewer teeth and needing fewer dentures. In fact, we know that a partial denture is a poor option to help keep the rest of the teeth and that restoring the mouth with solid, stable, functional teeth is far and away the best long-term solution to a missing tooth.
There are two factors that have led to a fundamental shift in oral health. To start, we know how to keep the gums and bone healthy. That means it is no longer the case that you have to lose your teeth! There isn’t a family history of gum disease that can’t be managed and today, we have exceptional options for laser gum therapy that helps tip the scales toward keeping your teeth forever.
The other game-changer is dental implants. These can replace individual teeth or support a section of missing teeth. With implants, your remaining teeth aren’t overloaded and prone to fracture from too much force and abuse.
We are rapidly approaching a time where we will have multiple options to correct the issues long before all the teeth need to come out!
Today, we know that the best baseline solution for someone who has no teeth is a full upper denture and a lower denture supported with at least two implants. Dental implants are an anchor to help the lower denture stay in place and keep the jawbone from dissolving away.
These implants provide a snap for a lower or upper denture. Dental implants can also hold a crown in place. For someone who has worn a denture for a few decades, dental implants can still support a removable denture. An even better option is to provide a foundation to screw new teeth into.
Today, we are able to add back solid, stable, secure, functional teeth that don’t come in and out and will rebuild your smile and help you regain your life! When you start wearing dentures, you lose about 99% of the bite force. This means that, unfortunately, you can’t really eat the foods you want and need to enjoy health and meals. On the other hand, if you add in a few implants, you can get 85% or more of that back!
Find out more
You don’t need to be afraid of losing your teeth. You don’t need to be frustrated by your partial or denture. Call and set up a free consultation to talk about what options are available for you. You should be able to smile and talk and laugh and chew without ever having to worry that you can’t trust your teeth!