Denture Facts

A Dozen Denture Facts

A Dozen Facts Everyone Should Know About Dentures

Whether you're seeking information about dentures for a loved one or for yourself, it's important that you know the facts. The following information, compiled in cooperation with the American Dental Association, offers the basic facts about dentures.

Fact 1: Dentures Don't Last Forever.
Dentures don't last forever. Nothing does. And while it's true that the modern denture is more durable than ever before, you can still break a tooth or the denture base by simply dropping them a few inches. Even with painstaking care, denture teeth can lose their natural appearance and chewing ability due to the cumulative effects of chewing, brushing and age. Plus, your mouth changes over time. These gradual changes, coupled with the gradual changes in your denture, explain why you should visit your dental professional regularly.

Your dental professional will look for:

  • looseness caused by tissue changes
  • bad odor caused by absorption of fluid and bacteria
  • color change due to age or reaction to mouth fluids
  • stains and calculus deposits resulting from mouth fluids

As a result, you can expect your dental professional to recommend replacing or refitting your dentures every 5 to 7 years.

Fact 2: Even if your dentures fit perfectly, you should still see a dental professional regularly.
Even if your dentures fit perfectly, you should still see a dental professional regularly. Why? Mouth tissues can reveal signs of diseases, such as diabetes, that first manifest themselves in the mouth. Besides checking your dentures, dental professionals will also check for signs of oral cancer and other diseases, and examine your gum ridges, tongue and jaw joints.

Fact 3: No one has to know you're wearing dentures.
No one has to know you're wearing dentures. No one wants a denture that looks like a "denture." Unlike old-fashioned dentures, which may look unnatural, today's denture can be made just for you, allowing you to look and feel better without anyone knowing why. Dental professional use their experience and knowledge to select and arrange teeth in a manner that creates the warm, natural smile you seek. Dentures help you to lose that sunken look in your lower face, as well as the wrinkles around your mouth. You'll likely look younger and smile more often.

Fact 4: Denture wearers can eat more normally.
Denture wearers can eat more normally. In many cases, denture-wearers discover they can once again eat the foods they love. While not all denture wearers can eat everything they would like, many have few restrictions in their diets. Moreover, they chew more thoroughly, leading to improved digestion and nutrition. And properly fitting dentures may actually encourage you to eat a more varied and well-balanced diet, further improving your overall health.

Fact 5: Denture wearers can speak more clearly.
Denture wearers can speak more clearly. The ability to speak clearly depends on subtle interactions involving your tongue, teeth, lips, cheeks and the roof of your mouth. A denture that's properly fitted allows all five components to work together properly.

Fact 6: Adhesives can play a role in your denture's fit and comfort.
Denture adhesives can play a role in your denture's fit and comfort. Dentures are made to fit precisely and usually do not require regular use of an adhesive for comfort. That said, even people with properly fitting dentures may find an adhesive product provides extra security and peace of mind, especially for important occasions. And many people assert that adhesives increase the performance of even the best-fitting dentures. However, if your dentures begin to feel loose or cause pronounced discomfort, see your dental professional immediately. Some patients have extensive bone loss (ridge shrinkage) and consider themselves "dental cripples." These patients may need to use adhesives daily with their dentures. Denture hygiene plays an extremely important role in preventing problems in this situation.

Fact 7: Over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect dentures.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect dentures. Drugs can affect denture fit and wearability. For example, certain medications can reduce the supply of saliva in your mouth, making it difficult to swallow or to chew. Be sure to let your dental professional know of any medications you may be taking regularly – or even occasionally.

Fact 8: Don't assume regular denture care is too costly.
Most dental professionals have a heart. Don't assume regular denture care is too costly. Before deciding that oral examinations and regular denture care are too costly, discuss the situation with your dental professional. Be frank. Ask about charges for denture adjustments, repairs and possible replacement. Keep in mind that if your are in your 60s, you are likely to have 20 more years of talking, eating, and smiling. Your oral health is a vital part of your total health.

Fact 9: Never try to make your own denture repairs.
Never try to make your own denture repairs. Do not try to adjust or repair your dentures yourself. Denture self-repair can cause irreparable damage and may result in the need for a new denture. Even do-it-yourself reliners can be bulky, causing increased pressure on the jaw and more rapid loss of jawbone, and they can irritate the soft tissues of your mouth.

Fact 10: With planning, denture corrections can often be made in one day.
With planning, denture corrections can often be made in one day. Advances in modern dentistry have made it possible for your dental professional to reline or repair dentures quickly—often right in the dental office. If you let your dental professional know you are in need of a denture repair, the correction can often be made on the same day.

Fact 11: Don't avoid replacing your denture just because you don't want to go through another long adjustment period.
Don't avoid replacing your denture just because you don't want to go through another long adjustment period. With your first denture, you learned the basics – from eating and speaking with it to simply wearing it. While there will be a period of adjustment with a replacement denture, it is usually shorter – and easier – than the first time. Regardless, it's important that you do it. Prolonged use of ill-fitting dentures can irritate the gums, tongue and cheek, and even cause the ridges of your mouth to shrink to the point where it is almost impossible to fit you with normal dentures. Your ability to chew may decrease and your face may acquire deep aging lines and wrinkles. When you look at the big picture, the temporary adjustment period is a small price to pay.

Fact 12: All dentures are not created equal. If you look for the lowest price, you'll get what you pay for.
All dentures are not created equal. If you look for the lowest price, you'll get what you pay for. In most U.S. states, only a dental professional is qualified to provide denture services.1 Before prescribing a denture, a dental professional will review your health history, perform a thorough oral examination and carefully measure and prepare your mouth for your dentures. Dentists work closely with reputable dental laboratories, where trained technicians make your dentures to match your dental professional's specifications. And remember, you get what you pay for. Self-fitting dentures, which are sometimes offered for "discount" prices, may not fit as well, or be as well prepared, and therefore can lead to serious health problems. A dental professional and lab will make sure your denture features premium long-wearing, low-staining teeth and high impact acrylic denture base. So see your dental professional and ask for these premium quality denture materials. If you need assistance in locating a dental professional in your area, contact your local dental society or dental referral service.1 In Canada and some U.S. states, licensed denturists may provide denture services.

You're not alone

The aging process affects every part of our body – even our teeth. Which means a lot of people – many of them "baby boomers" – are now among those who are getting full or partial dentures. In fact, one in five adults – including half of the over-55 generation – has at least one denture.

Why? For one thing, we're living longer. When the 20th century began, only 3% of the population was 65 or older. One hundred years later, that age group accounted for 20 percent of the population. The fact is, our natural teeth are being asked to work longer.

Moreover, many of us assault our teeth and gum tissues on a daily basis with everything from sugar rich sodas to candy bars and chewing gum. And many of us can't seem to find the time to brush, floss, and rinse often enough to maintain optimum oral health.

The result? Teeth begin to decay. And if you don't care for them, they become problems and sometimes they must be pulled (extracted). Here is where more problems occur. Because, "in general, as long as the teeth are present in the jaws, the jawbone stays intact. When the teeth are extracted, the jawbone begins to melt away," explains Dr. Keith A. Robinson, in his book, "Growing Older With Your Teeth, Or Something Like Them."1

A more pressing problem is gum disease, which causes more lost teeth than cavities cause. This is why flossing is so important – as Dr. Robinson says, "It is the best way to clean out the garbage that rests and decomposes between teeth." He adds, "An old saying is used by dental professionals frequently…pick out the teeth you want to keep and just floss them!"

The bottom line? Visit your dental professional regularly, because a dental professional treats mouths, with or without teeth. And if you're having problems, ask your dental professional to try everything possible to avoid having your tooth or teeth pulled. Even the best denture isn't likely to be as good as what Mother Nature gave you in the first place. Exhaust all opportunities…crown and bridge work, partials, precision attachments or implants (when surgically placed implants support a dental restoration)…before having any teeth pulled.

At best, dentures are a compromise. Discuss all options with your dental professional. You may even want a second opinion on your treatment options.

The Modern Denture

Why It's Better In Many Ways…

Advanced dental materials create dentures that are more comfortable, more durable and fit better than your parents and grandparents ever imagined.

But perhaps the greatest advancement in modern denture science is the ability to recreate much more natural-looking smiles.

  • Artificial denture teeth are designed to have the look and feel of natural teeth.
  • Each tooth can be positioned individually and "naturally" to give dentures a more realistic appearance.
  • The 21st century offers a much more natural choice of colors for artificial gums and teeth.
  • New processing methods ensure the best possible fit, function and comfort.
  • The leading manufacturers are continuously introducing new and exciting products to the marketplace, in response to the demands of the more than 45 million Americans who currently wear full or partial dentures.

Why Little Irregularities are Essential to a Natural-Looking Denture

No two people are exactly alike, thanks to the unique interplay of thousands of natural variables…from the color of our hair and eyes, to the tone of our skin, to our height and the build of our bodies.

The same can be said for smiles. Smiles gain their beauty from the size, color and shading of our teeth, as well as from the way our teeth are positioned in our mouths.

If you are shopping for dentures, you'll discover a range of possibilities. You may be surprised to discover that strides in modern cosmetic dentistry make it possible for you to create a smile as natural as it's ever been.

Good looking dentures are not usually "piano key" or "picket fence" arrangements, where "snow white" teeth are arranged in a perfect row. While such arrangements may be comfortable and allow you to chew your food, many times these dentures look like dentures…They look like "false teeth."

On the other hand, modern dental technology has developed personalized dentures that can be as natural-looking as the teeth you were born with. Dental professionals personalize dentures by actually considering everything from the shape of your face and the tone of your skin to your gender before creating – one tooth at a time – a denture that offers the most harmonious interplay of individual tooth form, size, color and arrangement.

These dentures offer higher levels of comfort, fit and performance. Their teeth wear longer and resist discoloration. And because they are made with new high-impact denture base (pink) materials, they are also stronger and more likely to survive a drop on the bathroom floor.

Oral Health and Overall Health

The Connection Is Direct

Aging does not cause oral diseases. Indeed, people of any age can experience an oral disease. But oral diseases are more prevalent with age. That is why regular dental visits, whether you have natural or artificial teeth, are important for a lifetime of good oral health.

The stakes are high. According to Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, "What amounts to a 'silent epidemic' of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens – poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minority groups." 1 In addition, the report says, "Individuals who are medically compromised or who have disabilities are at greater risk for oral diseases, and, in turn, oral diseases further jeopardize their health."

The oral disease with the most serious consequence is oral cancer. Oral cancer may appear as a red or white sore or bump that does not heal within 1 or 2 weeks, and which may or may not be painful. Other signs of oral cancer include swollen lymph nodes of the neck, and difficulty swallowing and speaking.

The risk for oral cancer increases with age, tobacco use, frequent use of alcohol, and exposure to sunlight.

Oral disease can also cause swelling and discomfort, altered taste and bad breath, while also detracting from your good looks.

Those symptoms can result from changes in the gums, a reduced immune system, an increase in the number of systemic diseases – such as bleeding disorders, diabetes, heart valve problems, certain cardiovascular conditions, stroke and artificial joints, as well as a greater use of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

1 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services