A disturbing number of adults in the UK find wearing dentures very unsatisfactory. Most denture wearers are unaware of pioneering techniques that can virtually guarantee solving traditional denture problems such as soreness, looseness, or poor appearance. In the UK, dentures have been constructed the same way for over 50 years but over the last three to five years new techniques are starting to become available. Clinics at the forefront of these changes predict that demand for these treatments will go up enormously over the next few years. At present, approximately one in 4 of us wear dentures and due to the ageing population, the total number of dentures needed is likely to increase. With people living longer the more likely they are to lose further teeth which may then require dentures being made.
Historically, dentures have been a taboo subject, and this has not really evolved with time. What has changed is the fantastic treatment now available. Lead Clinician, Dr Amin at The Denture & Implant Clinic, shares some of the research he has undertaken surrounding dentures and explains some of the common problems associated with ill-fitted dentures and how dental implants can help solve these problems…
“I am truly excited about the advancements in dentistry over the years, especially for people who are missing teeth, and I want to spread the word to as many people as possible.
When I first qualified and spent time treating patients it became apparent to me that many patients were simply unsatisfied with their dentures. I continually heard complaints that people could not eat comfortably and that their dentures often ‘floated’ in their mouths. Others were unhappy with their appearance, complaining of a sunken look. Most people have been told that there was nothing that could be done for them, that they had a difficult mouth and would just have to manage. This prompted me to research the subject and find out what improvements could be made for these people. I travelled widely studying with the top professors in the field in order to gain more knowledge and gradually developed superior techniques which resolved patients’ problems. I have studied in Germany, the US, and many places in the UK. I also provide lectures for dentists on denture making techniques which they can attend as part of their continued professional development to increase their knowledge and to be educated of the potential for improving their dentures.
I began to understand many years ago, that because most dental clinics are so busy providing general dentistry, dentists do not always have the time that is required to construct dentures properly. Plus, because dental technicians are normally based at different locations, it is hard to communicate directly with the person making the dentures. I discovered that there are thousands of people around us who are suffering from ill-fitting dentures and in some cases, patients have many sets that simply do not fit, thus causing a poor quality of life.
If you are wondering if dental implants may benefit you, answer the following questions to help you decide:
Would I benefit from dental implants?
Some questions you should try to answer to help you decide are:
- Are you frustrated with your dentures?
- Do your dentures move out of place when you chew or speak?
- Do you have difficulty eating certain foods?
- Do you use a lot of glue so that they will not move out of place?
- Are you unable to enjoy your food?
- Do you feel that your dentures make you look old?
- Are you unhappy with the appearance of your dentures?
What are the risks associated with ill-fitting dentures?
Generally, there are four risks associated with having dentures that do not fit properly:
- Losing bone faster. Even if you do not have teeth, your mouth is always changing. Your first dentures were fitted to the structure of your mouth as it was when your teeth were removed. Your jawbone gradually contracts overtime while your dentures do not. This creates a gap between your gums and the denture causing your dentures to become ill-fitting overtime. When you wear dentures that are not an exact fit with the structure of your mouth, it increases the deterioration of your jawbone as the denture moves. I am often amazed to discover that there are people who have the same set of dentures for over 20 years. They may be proud of this fact, but the level of deterioration to their jawbone over a 20-year period will be much greater than in a similar draw with good dentures.
- They can make you look older. As the jawbone contracts (resorbs), the face appears thinner. The cheeks appear sunken in, which results in making your face look much older than it really is. When the face looks thinner, all of a sudden, all kinds of wrinkles appear that were not evident before. In many cases, a new set of teeth can slightly widen the face and prevent this ageing appearance. Even the best plastic surgeons cannot create this effect so easily.
- Embarrassment during eating and even malnourishment When your dentures do not fit properly, chewing becomes a problem. In reality, most people with poorly fitting dentures have become accustomed to the fact that they cannot chew well. They believe this is the way it has to be and do not understand that with a new set of dentures, they could chew better. A new set of teeth can improve chewing, which allows the body to digest food properly and satisfy your nutritional needs. When food is not chewed completely, we swallow entire pieces of food. This causes the stomach to work harder than it should and in certain cases can lead to a variety of problems.
- They can lead to speech problems. If your dentures are a poor fit, they will move when talking throughout the day. This will cause the lips, cheeks and tongue to struggle to pronounce words while they’re trying to bring the dentures back into place. From conversations with many patients, it becomes clear to me that many people with loose dentures prefer not to get drawn into long conversations, or even worry about running into people they will have to talk to, out of fear that the teeth will fall out or become loose whilst talking. In order to talk, we use our tongue, teeth, lips, cheeks and palate. Properly fitting dentures will allow all of these to function properly, resulting in clear, coherent, fluent and comfortable speech.
How can dental implants resolve risks associated with ill-fitting dentures?
Risk 1: Damage or loss of the jawbone
Dental implants reduce resorption of the jawbone because the implant retained teeth are directly connected to the jawbone in a similar manner to the original teeth. In a perfect scenario, as soon as a tooth is lost it is ideal to place an implant to retain as much of the bone as possible.
Risk 2: Dentures make you look older.
When implants are placed, the reconstructions are held firmly in place, which gives us much more flexibility to create the appearance of the teeth as you wish. Conventional dentures without implants are a compromise. Often the most aesthetically pleasing position of the teeth is not the position that offers the most stability of the denture.
Risk 3: Malnourishment and embarrassment of eating
With dental implants the biting force is increased because most of the movement associated with the dentures is eliminated. It is much easier to eat, so no more going out to restaurants and worrying about what food to order.
Risk 4: Speech problems
Implants prevent the movement of the dentures therefore, the speech problems caused by the movement of dentures is eradicated.
In conclusion, implants that retain dentures, significantly reduce the four risks described above. Recent studies in the UK, Canada and the US, now recommend that all lower full dentures should be stabilised with implants. The World Health Organisation concurs with this advice. It is now commonplace in the dental profession to view a full lower denture not retained by implants as substandard. If you want to learn more about this topic, google the term “The McGill Consensus”.
Here at The Denture & Implant Clinic, almost all denture problems are solvable, and it is terrible to see denture wearers suffering needlessly. We are all self-conscious about our appearance, especially denture wearers, but is now possible to make dentures so life like it is impossible to tell they are dentures. For those with ill-fitting dentures we can also guarantee a much better fit and for very difficult cases the technology of dental implants is very helpful.”