Tic-Tac-Toe; The denture questions
Questions on what you should know about dentures with answers from our professional, Peter Drews of Drews Dental Services
Any tooth loss or poorly fitting denture can affect everything from your bite and facial structure to muscle atrophy. This creates a domino effect on your physical appearance and secondary medical issues.
Q: Can dentures cause headaches and earaches?
A: Poorly fitting dentures can cause a misaligned bite, increasing stress on surrounding joints and muscles. Stress and tight muscles in most places, let alone the part that does all the thinking and planning, are rocket fuel for pain.
Q: What about gas and bloating?
A: Ill-fitting dentures cause you to swallow more air. Everyone swallows air while eating and drinking, but poorly fitting dentures produce more saliva, increase swallowing, and result in excessive burping.
Q: Can dentures cause thrush and canker sores?
A: Denture wearers are prone to both. Thrush is a yeast infection most common around an upper denture and/or tongue. It can only be treated with anti-fungal medication, and patients with removable dentures are at higher risk for reinfection. Canker sores can appear for many reasons, but an ill-fitting denture exacerbates them.
Q: Can dentures change my facial features?
A: A poorly fitting denture has significant, visible, long-term repercussions to your physical appearance. The shape of your face relies on a partnership between muscle tissue, fat, and bone. The jaw’s upper and lower ridges (where the denture sits) resorb back into the mouth over time, resulting in the classic ‘witchy look’. When bone recedes, so do the muscles, and gravity takes care of the rest. This is the biggest contributor (except smoking) to facial aging and sagging.
How Implant-Supported Dentures Could Be Your Answer
The best way to resolve these issues is with something that won’t move. A dental implant is an artificial tooth and root system that looks and functions like a natural tooth. The implant root is made of metal titanium, which is surgically placed into the jaw, and a crown/tooth is attached to the top. For a denture that is supported by an implant(s), it is snapped directly onto the abutment (post).
An implant-supported denture’s most significant benefit is that it stimulates the jawbone. Implants prevent bone atrophy, maintaining shape and stability, whereas a traditional, removable denture requires ongoing adjustments to reflect bone recession. The longer you wear removable dentures, biting and chewing becomes compromised. Implant-supported dentures provide three times the biting force.
There are many cosmetic advantages, both visual and audible. An implant-supported denture yields excellent results by regaining muscle tone around the face and neck. They function by reducing the amount of ‘travel’ between upper and lower teeth. Preventing ‘facial collapse’ by replacing lost teeth with an implant-supported denture is more successful and cost-effective than treating facial collapse once it has occurred. With better stability, an implant-supported denture also provides clearer speech, particularly for “s” and “shh” sounds (a giveaway of a removable prosthesis). This is because there is no slipping or shifting once it’s been attached (your dentist is the only one who can remove it).
If you are interested in exploring implant-supported dentures and how they might benefit you, call our office to schedule a consultation.
ABOUT THE PRO
Dr. Peter Drews is a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry, past president of the Androscoggin Valley Dental Society, and past President of the Maine Dental Association. He is currently serving as Treasurer for the Androscoggin Valley Dental Society. Practicing general and cosmetic dentistry in central Maine, Dr. Drews professionally serves families and individuals of the Lewiston and Auburn Maine communities.