If you don’t have dentures, they’re not something you’re likely to give a second thought to.
We’re human, right? If something doesn’t affect us directly, it simply doesn’t enter our mind. But the truth is, they are a reality for many people.
Dentures are a dental treatment typically prescribed to a certain population group. Usually born before 1950, these people have been affected by a lack of available quality dental care throughout their life – during key early development years, and then later as adults. Often, they’ve also missed out on important education at the right time, which would have helped make the connection between oral health and overall health. It may have even prevented the deterioration of teeth that have led to them needing help with dentures.
Of the people in this group, about 50 percent end up getting dentures. That’s a lot of people. Although you may not be away, people with dentures not only experience the loss of teeth. They also lose other things the rest of us with teeth take for granted. They also lose:
- Biting force
- Lower face height (the ‘old man’ look)
- Chew function
- Satisfaction of eating
- Aesthetics (old dentures make teeth disappear from view)
- Self-esteem (a lot of people make a joke about having dentures, saying it’s like having one leg, but if they could wave a magic wand, they would LOVE their teeth back).
The majority simply put up with it, accepting this is just how things are. However, there are alternatives. I can confidently say, it is possible to work with dentures, if you have them, or if you’re getting them. Done a certain way, they can make a meaningful difference to the lives of people who need them, adding more value than taking away.
Dentures: They can improve the way you chew
Let me share a story. I have a few of them, but this one does a good job of showing just how much they can make a positive difference to a person’s life.
A patient I’ve been treating for thirty years – as long as I’ve been a dentist in Helensvale – was experiencing deterioration in her teeth as she aged. Due to a variety of factors, including dry mouth, it was obvious her teeth would not go the distance. It became obvious the only solution would be dentures for her bottom teeth.
Now as a dentist, this is my least preferred option. Bottom dentures can be a real challenge. Usually, there’s nothing to hold them in place, which means the dentures move around and chewing becomes difficult. They can also make life just that little less enjoyable. Here’s why.
In many cases, sheer muscular force is required to hold them in place – and that’s just so a meal can be eaten. Apart from the discomfort, there’s the mental, emotional and physical adjustment that must be made when you no longer have the teeth you’ve had your whole life. Knowing all this, I proposed to this lady we include a couple of implants with the dentures. That way, the dentures would have something they could be fixed to, rather than move around in her mouth.
Dentures + implants: It can be a perfect match
For people who need dentures, approaching the situation this way can give them the feeling of what it’s like to have teeth again. Implants can mimic the roots of real teeth and they can stabilise a loose or slipping denture. Implants also have the ability to give your existing denture an anchor so they are rock solid in your mouth.
This is the equivalent of thinking you’ll only ever be able to ride around on a bike and finding out, you’ll actually be getting around in a comfortable, air conditioned car. You get it, don’t you? It’s a big difference.
Working together with my patient, we went ahead with the implants, and once they’d set, removed the few remaining bottom teeth, and fixed the dentures in place. Although it’s not a perfect solution – it’s an ideal one for this patient. She can now chew with much greater ease, her dentures do not move around, and she can enjoy her life much more than if they hadn’t been fixed.
What I love about this story (apart from the happy ending) is we were able to provide a meaningful alternative that really works. From time to time, a little food might get caught under the denture, but my patient is pleased that she can chew with ease. In many ways, she has her life back.
For most dentists, prescribing dentures for patients isn’t what we love to do, however the reality is, it’s what’s necessary for a portion of our patients. The greatest thing is being able to offer alternatives that work. And even when people don’t have enough bone to place implants on, we can add bone to those sites, wait six months, and then place the implants. Ultimately, the dentures can be anchored, or we can even remove them completely and bring back teeth again. How good is that?
Are dentures affecting you or someone you love and care about? Maybe you can help them have a more enriched life by sharing this information about getting dentures with them.
Dr Mark Miller is a dentist in Helensvale. He has been caring for the local Helensvale and broader Gold Coast community for over thirty years. His approach to dentistry is focused on helping people to understand the connection between their oral health and overall physical wellbeing and to find alternative solutions to treatments like dentures. He is friendly, funny, and most of all, very caring. If you’d like to discuss our dental treatment finance options for a prescribed treatment such as dentures, we’d love to book a time to chat with one of our team. Tel 5573 0188 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.