For patients with lifetimes of dental problems, having all your teeth extracted and dentures made may seem like a reasonable choice. After all, the acrylic teeth and gums will be straight, white and won't be subject to cavities or gum disease. However, dentists have a saying: dentures aren't a replacement for teeth- they're a replacement for NO teeth.
A complete denture is essentially a piece of hard acrylic that is contoured to fit against the upper and lower jaw bones on a patient with no teeth. On the upper arch, the denture creates a sort of "suction cup" against the hard palate. On the mandible, the denture simply rests on the residual ridge of bone. Hence, bottom (mandibular) dentures are unstable and initially difficult to use for eating and talking. Over time, denture wearers usually develop more control of these appliances with their tongue and lip muscles.
The process of transitioning from natural teeth to dentures can be frustrating and disappointing. Eating with dentures is an entirely new learned skill. You can only generate about a fourth of the biting force you could make with natural teeth. Additionally, food has to be chewed in a specific way to keep the appliances from sliding out of place. For all these reasons, many patients are now opting to have implants placed to work in conjunction with the denture to develop more stability and usability.
With all this being said, dentures can be a great solution for patients with advanced dental diseases. When faced with the prospect of having no teeth or severely compromised teeth, complete dentures are a lifesaver. For many, a positive attitude makes all the difference in the outcome of denture treatment. If you would like to know more about dentures, implants and other multiple tooth replacement options, please give our office a call!