As a Denturist, it’s important to keep pace with the evolution and technology involved in replacing missing teeth. The techniques and materials used has evolved significantly in the last decade. Over the last few years, I’ve seen more patients choose the benefits of implant retained dentures over typical removable dentures – and with reason. Implant Retained Dentures provide several advantages over other teeth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, implant-supported dentures are designed to last a lifetime; they are also more comfortable and stable than conventional dentures, allowing you to retain a more natural bite and stronger foundation for strength. Here is a summary of the benefits over your typical removable dentures:
- Look, feel, and function like natural teeth
- Long-lasting – Typical dentures last 5 – 7 years similar to a bridge. Implants can last a lifetime.
- Avoid and mitigate facial structure by counteracting bone resorption
- Stability – no more worrying about your dentures falling out
- Speaking – It can be challenging to learn to speak with removable dentures, implants will feel more natural
- Eating – enjoy a greater range of food. You can basically eat virtually any type of food.
- No cavities – this is the one area that improve on natural teeth, implants can’t get cavities
- Comfort – the upper denture is connected to a base, and would not require a suction with the palette
While our patients focus on the excellent comfort and great aesthetic results, the most important aspect from my point of view is what is happening below the gums. For those who are missing natural tooth roots, what is occurring (or not occurring) is vitally important to understand. Take a look at this article on bone resorption to get a better understanding of what happens when you lose teeth. In summary, Natural teeth are held by your upper and lower jaw bones. These bones actually thrive and rely on the presence of tooth roots. Tooth roots provide stimulation to counter a process called bone resorption that occurs naturally within the human body. Without roots and stimulation, the jaw bones melt away due to lack of regrowth and as a result, your jaw bone loses significant mass leading to what is called a “collapsed mouth” look.
Imagine losing a tooth that was situated between two other teeth. When bone resorption begins, the bone loss that abuts the neighboring tooth roots weaken their positions. It is a fact that when a tooth is lost, the next to go will most likely be the tooth next to it. As bone loss continues, you increase your risk of additional tooth loss. As more teeth disappear, the absence of additional tooth roots means an increased rate of bone loss, leaving you with a shrinking jaw bone before you may be ready to deal with it. So a single tooth loss has a terrible cyclic compounding effect. Removable dentures actually make the situation worse by putting pressure on your gums and increasing the rate of bone loss even further. We’ve all seen someone with a collapsed mouth where the nose seems too close to the chin – the look we’ve associated with the elderly and our grandmothers. But this same look can also surface for much younger people suffering from tooth loss; it has nothing to do with age but rather the structure of the bone.
No matter the option you choose, as a Denturist I strive to provide the best guidance and results for you. But I like to make sure my patients are aware that these options will not create a permanent denture that lasts indefinitely. That they know what to expect and understand the limitations.
Your removable denture was formed according to your gum ridge at a point in time. As your bone resorbs and mass dissipates, so too will the tissues that your denture sits on. This causes your denture to become loose and become even more unstable. While we offer relines and rebases to help deal with the change in your mouth, these are only temporary “fixes”. Eventually there is a possibility that there will be so little tissue that we can’t create a stable bite.
Our goal is to create the best outcome for our patients, and educating them so they can make the best informed decisions. Regardless of the tooth replacement option chosen, knowing the advantages and challenges of what’s available will help our patients make the right decision for themselves and increase the likelihood of being happy at the end of their treatment.