Category Archives: Dentures

Are Dentures of the Devil?

I have chronic kidney disease. For some reason, which not even my dentist understands, since I’ve been diagnosed my oral health has taken a nose dive. I haven’t changed my habits, so I don’t exactly know what’s going on. Regardless, I’m now in the untenable situation of losing my teeth. My dentist tried valiantly to save them, especially because I’m only in my thirties, but we lost. I was horribly upset at first, especially with everything else tanking with my health, but have sort of resigned myself at this point. My dentist wants me to get dental implants. I’ve had so many medical procedures and surgeries, I am kind of surgeried out. So, I suggested dentures. He acted like I told him I’d like to worship the devil. But dentures have been used for years. Surely they can’t be that bad.

Linda

Dear Linda,

An image of a woman before and after facial collapse
If dentures are worn too long it can lead to facial collapse

First, let me express my compassion for what you’ve been going through. I have a friend with chronic health problems and it’s been a painful and helpless experience watching her suffer. I’m sure you’re suffering too. That being said, and especially because of your other health issues, I want to make sure you get the best treatment possible.

Just because something has been used for years doesn’t always mean it’s your ideal solution. Look at leeches. Yes, they can remove blood, but we have much better means of doing that now. Yes, dentures were used for years and are still in use. In the past, that’s because it was all we had available.

Now we have a much better solution. Your dentist suggested dental implants for a very good reason.

Dental Implants over Dentures

The upper arch of dentures is held in by suction. The lower arch just kind of rests on the ridge of your jawbone. While many people adjust to wearing removable dentures, others find them intolerable. They’re never secure, food gets underneath them while you eat, and even the best fitting dentures reduce your chewing capacity by 50%.

Though those things can be adjusted to, there is something much more serious in your particular case because of your age. You’re just in your 30s, which means you’ll have to wear these for many years. When you remove your teeth your body begins to reabsorb the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere.

After about 10-20 years, you won’t have enough jawbone left to support your dentures. You’ll be a dental cripple, barely able to eat. Look at the picture at the top of the page and it will give you some idea of what to expect.

Getting Beautiful Dentures or Dental Implants

Regardless of which procedure you get, you’ll want the results to look both natural and beautiful. Every dentist has a different skill level when it comes to cosmetic work. It’s hard for patients to know ahead of time which ones do beautiful, artistic work and which just barely get by.

To be safe, you’ll want a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). They’re among the top cosmetic dentists in the country and are sure to give you a gorgeous smile. In fact, most of them have a beautiful smile guarantee.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

30 Years of Dentures – Can My Smile Be Pretty?

I’ve had dentures for over thirty years. I’ve spent my life embarrassed by my smile. The other day I read something that reminded me I’ve never tried to do anything about it. Instead, I accepted it as a fate I couldn’t change. Now I’m wondering. After all this time, is it too late for me to have a pretty smile?

Miranda

Dear Miranda,

You’ve got a few issues going on here. But, first let me tell you before we go into what to do that yes, you can absolutely have a beautiful smile again.

Sadly, your dentures could have been gorgeous from the beginning. Many patients feel like what their dentist gives them is as good as it gets, especially when dentures are concerned. Maybe it’s because they remembered their grandmother’s dentures looked similar. It no longer has to be that way.

It would have taken a better cosmetic dentist than you obviously had. But, gorgeous dentures are done every day by expert cosmetic dentists. Looking at Dr. Cha’s smile gallery, there are a few patients there who had partial dentures placed. You can see they are stunningly gorgeous. When it comes to beauty, it’s not the procedure nearly as much as it is the dentist.

But how do you find such a dentist? When it comes to finding the most artistic and skilled cosmetic dentists, I recommend getting a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Problems with Dentures

However, your bigger issue is not just how it looks. The downside of dentures is far greater over the long term. When your teeth were removed, your body wanted to preserve the minerals which are no longer necessary to retain your teeth. Unfortunately, that means you’ll start losing jawbone. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone to retain your dentures, leaving you a dental cripple.

Solution to the Problems with Dentures

Illustration of dental implants in three partsFirst, you’ll need to build up your jawbone again. This can be done with a procedure called bone grafting. This will provide you with bone again. From there, you have two choices. You can get your dentures re-done. You will have similar problems with losing jawbone all over again, along with the other types of problems which go along with dentures.

You have another option, though. My suggestion would be for you to instead of replacing your dentures to get dental implants instead. You’ll find that your quality of life goes up significantly, especially your chewing capacity.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

If I Get Dentures, will I Get Teeth Right Away?

If I have all my teeth extracted, will I get the teeth removed and dentures put in on the same day? How does that work, am I asleep?

Cora M.

Dear Cora,

Image of Dentures

A lot what happens depends on the type of dentures you get. As for whether you’re asleep, that’s really up to you. There are several options available:

  • Local Anesthetic: Some patients prefer to stay awake for the whole procedure and just use a local so they don’t feel it.
  • Oral Conscious Sedation: Most patients prefer this option. You take a pill that makes you very sleepy and you’ll rest throughout the entire procedure. Many patients find they don’t even remember having it.
  • IV Sedation: Not all sedation dentists have this available. Dr. Cha is one of the few who does and is DOCS certified, so you’ll know you’re in safe hands.

Immediate Dentures

If you elect to have immediate dentures placed you can have your teeth removed and walk out with a full set of dentures that day. While the obvious advantage is having your dentures that day, there are drawbacks. As the swelling goes down they’ll come loose and need re-fitting. Often you’ll need several re-fittings and sometimes a new denture will have to be made when healing is completed six month’s later.

Conventional Dentures

With these, your teeth are removed and you’ll wait about eight weeks for some of the swelling to go down before your dentures are made. This has the benefit of needing fewer re-fittings, feeling better from the start, and costing less.

An Alternative to Dentures

No matter which type of dentures you choose, they both have one major drawback— facial collapse. When your teeth are removed, your jawbone begins shrinking. The reason for that is the redistribution of the minerals. Your body recognizes there are not longer any tooth roots there and assumes the bone is no longer needed. It reabsorbs the minerals to use elsewhere throughout your body. Eventually, you lose so much jawbone, you don’t have enough left to keep your dentures in.

If you get dental implants, it protects you from losing that bone structure. It does that by implanting a prosthetic root into your jaw bone. Then tops it with a porcelain crown. Your body recognizes the root and leaves the minerals where they are. For added benefit, they’re much more secure and more like having your own natural teeth back again.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Please Tell Me I Have Options Other Than Dentures?

I’ve stopped crying long enough to write you. I’m 28 years old. My parents never took me to the dentist. I didn’t really think about it much until last week when my new job told me I had dental insurance. That was kind of exciting. So, I was thrilled to get to go to the dentist for the first time. That feeling quickly turned from elation to despair. He told me that my teeth were a wreck and he should pull them all and replace them with dentures. He really pressured me to do it right then. I was in shock. Dentures! At my age! I burst into tears. That’s when he grew impatient and said, “What did I expect when I neglected my teeth my entire life.” I got angry and walked out. I haven’t neglected my teeth. I brush AND floss everyday, which people who have been to the dentist don’t do. Also, how was it my fault my parents couldn’t afford to take us to the dentist? Is there any chance he’s wrong? I’d think if my teeth were in that bad of shape, I’d know somehow. Wouldn’t I be in pain or even see cavities? If he’s not wrong, are dentures my only option. Please help me!

Annabelle P.

Dear Annabelle,

Tulsa Dentures

Wow! I’m not sure what to say. Mostly, I feel sorrowful that your first experience with the dentist was this negative. Not all dentists are as grumpy as the one you experienced. And they certainly would not have such a pessimistic attitude about your dental health.

You may not feel this way right now, but there is hope. In fact, I’m pretty sure you won’t need dentures at your age. I have no idea why your dentist just jumped right to dentures. That’s generally an absolute last resort, even if you do have to remove all of your teeth.

The first step for you is to get a second opinion and see what the true condition of your teeth is. Most dentists will make it their first priority to save as many teeth as absolutely possible. If you do need to have some teeth removed, dentures won’t be their top recommendation.

Alternatives to Dentures

There are several alternatives to dentures. Most of which are a better option.

Dental Implants

Tulsa Dental implant

This is the ideal tooth replacement. As you can see from the image on the left, this puts a prosthetic tooth root into your jawbone to stabilize a dental crown. The crown serves as the visible part of your teeth. The stability of the implant allows you to eat, drink, and care for your teeth as you normally would.

A Dental Bridge

Tulsa Dental Bridge

Another good option is a dental bridge. It uses the teeth on either side of the extracted tooth to anchor your new false tooth. These are especially useful when the adjacent teeth are needing crowns to begin with. It’s a little less expensive than dental implants as well.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Please Tell Me I Don’t Have to Remove All My Teeth

I need some advice. I have avoided the dentist for years. It’s a long story, but my fear started when I was a child after a horrible experience. I started having a toothache which was pretty bad and decided I had to go in. It was equally horrible. He told me all my teeth are bad and I need to remove them and get dentures. He tried to insist I do it then saying I’d die if I didn’t. I started to cry and he essentially said I’m being a baby and did this to myself. Then said if I’m not going to do what’s necessary, I need to leave. I left devastated thinking even if I HAD to do this I didn’t want to do it with someone so insensitive. I’d rather give my money to someone else. But, I’m only 32 years old. Are dentures really my only option? I don’t want to look like my grandma. But, I also don’t want to die.
Stacey A.

Dear Stacey,

Dental implant
Dental Implant

I’m sorry you’ve had such a disastrous experience for a second time. I want to assure you that not all dentists are like this. The behaviour of this dentist makes me question his diagnosis. First, most dentists try to save as many teeth as possible. If it’s not possible to save any teeth, the next best option is dental implants. I don’t know any dentists who would suggest full dentures. They’re a last resort kind of option because of all the drawbacks.

What I’d like you to do is get a second opinion. I’m optimistic at least some of your teeth can be saved. You only mentioned the one toothache. I don’t know if you had any symptoms of gum disease. Some ways to recognize that is gum tenderness and even bleeding when brushing your teeth. If it progresses too far, without treatment, it can cause you to lose your teeth.

As far as threatening death, a tooth infection left untreated can spread to the brain or heart, which will lead to death. Only the severely infected tooth would need to be removed, not all of them.

Whatever teeth you do end up losing, you are better suited having replaced with dental implants. That gives you a prosthetic tooth root which will protect you from losing jawbone. That shrunken look your grandmother has is from that loss of jawbone. It’s called facial collapse and is a side effect of dentures. You won’t have to worry about that from dental implants.

I also wanted to address your dental fear. Most patients with dental anxiety developed it in childhood just like you, due to a negative experience. I’ve found that many patients with dental anxiety do much better with dental sedation. The chance to have pain-free dental experiences generally changes their whole outlook on dentistry. Eventually, many don’t even need the dental sedation anymore.

It’s worth looking into, especially if you end up needing more than that one tooth worked on. It can allow you to get a significant amount of more work done than you normally could in one sitting, all without pain or stress.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Help! I Have George Washington’s Teeth

I read once that George Washington had fake teeth and hated them. He felt they were a constant embarrassment. You’d think in the 200 plus years since George Washington had to get dentures, things would have changed. They haven’t. I just got dentures. I’m looking in the mirror and feel like I have wooden teeth myself. I’m in tears. Please, please tell me this can be fixed. I’m willing to pay for the whole thing over again. I’m just not willing to look like this!

Christie Y.

Dear Christie,

So, here’s the thing. Things have improved. Your dentist may be a fine general dentist. He may be very skilled at fixing things. But, when you’re talking about something aesthetic, like your smile, you really want someone who is a skilled cosmetic dentist. Dentures can be gorgeous. They can not only look like your natural teeth, they can look like a stunning celebrity smile.

You can try asking your dentist for a refund, explaining how unhappy you are with your appearance. He may just return the fee, though he may keep lab fees so he doesn’t lose money. If you’re willing to get the dentures re-done, you should look for a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

These are the top cosmetic dentists in the world. You will not feel like George Washington. You’ll feel like a supermodel.

I want to be sure your dentist spoke with you about the complications of dentures versus dental implants. When you get dentures, you lose jaw bone. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone to support your dentures.

Dental implants prevent bone loss. It is a more expensive, but it’s by far a better treatment than dentures if you’re a good candidate. It’s like having healthy teeth in your mouth. I’m worried he hasn’t talked to you about it because his skill isn’t there to perform the procedure. Talk to a qualified dentist to see if you’re a candidate and have them explain the pros and cons of ALL your options.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Are Dentures “Really” the Worst Thing I Can Do?

I have teeth which have been a constant problem my whole life. It seems like every couple of months I’m back with a new problem even though I brush and floss as instructed. I told the dentist on this last visit that I’m just tired of it and want to just get dentures. He pretty much shouted that’s the worst thing I can do, and suggested I take better care of my teeth. I don’t know what else to do besides brushing and flossing two times a day.  Are dentures truly my worst decision?

Steve O. – Pennsylvania

Steve,

Admittedly, that wasn’t the best way for your dentist to handle the situation.  Like in every other profession, sometimes dentists lack in people skills.

You can be doing everything you’re supposed to with your dental care and still struggle with your teeth. Your dentist should know this, too. Sometimes our genetics work against us and our teeth will be a problem no matter what. There are some extra steps your dentist can take, such as fluoride treatments.

As to whether dentures are your worst possible decision, it depends. If you’re losing your teeth and cannot afford a better option, then dentures are better than nothing.  In your situation, here are the steps I’d recommend.

First, I’d try to save any teeth you can. Natural teeth are truly your best option. Even the top of the line tooth replacement, dental implants, which are like having natural teeth, have risks that you won’t have with your natural teeth.

Second, get crowns or implants on the teeth which can’t be saved. If you get to keep part of the tooth, get a porcelain crown. If the tooth is extracted, get an implant.

I realize that not everyone can afford a dental implant. In that case, I would say a removable partial denture would be okay. However, there is a downside to dentures.

When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes the roots of your teeth are gone and automatically begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone. Eventually, you won’t have enough bone structure there to retain dentures. This is most common when you have a full set of dentures. You’ve likely seen patients in this situation. Their face has a sunken, aged appearance.

Implants solve this problem because it places a prosthetic root into your jawbone, so your body recognizes those minerals are still necessary.

The key here is to save what you can. Then, when you can’t, go down the list for the best replacement you can afford. I’d also talk to your dentist about getting some extra fluoride.

Another trick for fluoride is to make sure you’re drinking tap water and not bottled water. Bottled water is defluorinated. Your tap water should contain fluoride.

Also, don’t beat yourself up about your teeth. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still have problems with your teeth. You can’t change your genetics.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Dentist Told Me Dentures Would Be Ugly

I’m having to remove my teeth after years of trying to save them and thousands of dollars spent. I don’t have any money left. I can barely afford the dentures I’m going to have to wear.  Now my dentist tells me that I shouldn’t expect dentures to look good. He said dentures tend to be ugly. If I want a natural smile I need to get dental implants.  I honestly can’t afford the implants, but the idea of looking like I have wooden teeth. I’m in tears.

Sara M. – California

Sara,

I hate when I hear the type of tactics your dentist is using. If your dentures end up ugly it’s not because you got dentures. It’s because your dentist isn’t a competent cosmetic dentist.

The (very good) reasons for getting dental implants have more to do with their function along with how they preserve your jawbone, than with appearance.

A good cosmetic dentist will make either dentures or dental implants look gorgeous. I wouldn’t let this dentist touch your dentures until you saw some before and after pictures of his denture work.  Make sure they’re his work too, not stock photos.

My suggestion would be to find an excellent cosmetic dentist to do your work.  Even the dentures will be a smile you can be proud to flash.

I realize that dental implants are out of your budget right now.  Talk to the dentist you decide to use about snap on dentures.  Then, maybe you can save up and get pairs of implants as you’re able to.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Can Dentures Make Your Mouth Bleed?

I am a 76-year-old women and the corners of my mouth keep cracking and bleeding. I have had dentures for the past eight years. Can you give me some advice as to what is going on. Is it the dentures? 

Thanks, Lois

Dear Lois,

It sounds like you a condition known as Angular Chelitis. This causes one to have cracks or lesions at the corners of the lips. It can repair itself if mild,  however your case doesn’t sound mild.

 In order to treat this condition, you’ll need to discover the root cause. Yes, dentures can be the problem. When your teeth are extracted, especially toward the front of your mouth, it can start to close over on itself if there’s no support. This leads to cheilosis. If your dentures don’t fit properly it causes the same problem.

First, have your dentures looked at by another dentist to see if it’s the culprit and if so, a new one will need to be made, preferably by a different dentist. 

If that’s not the cause, here are some other conditions that lead to Angular Chelitis:

  • Deficiency in riboflavin, iron, and/or zinc
  • Anorexia or Bulimic
  • Constantly biting or licking the lips
  • Medications that dry out the skin
  • Deficiency in protein within the diet. This is very common in the elderly
  • Bacterial or fungal infections. For example Herpes Simplex, Staphylococcus, and candida albicans

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

I Hate How My Dentures Look

I didn’t have the best looking smile to begin with, I had a tooth gap and a couple of chips, but they were my teeth and they were fairly healthy. Then I got cancer and everything went to pot…including my teeth. They say it was the chemo and radiation. I ended up having to get dentures. That was humiliating enough, especially after losing my hair. However, the worst came when the dentures were finished. They look horrible. Completely fake. When I mentioned it to my dentist, he scoffed at me and said they’re as pretty as they can be and the smile I had before wasn’t anything to smile about anyway.  That hurt. But I am wondering if he’s being honest. Are dentures going to look fake no matter what?

Esperanza C. – New Mexico

Esperanza,

I am so sorry for what you’ve experienced. Your dentist had no right to say what he did about your smile before the dentures. I can only assume that  he was pouncing on you out of embarrassment at the quality of his work.

To answer your question, dentures can be made to look not just natural, but stunningly beautiful. However, it takes a dentist with advanced cosmetic skills to make them so.

If I were in your place, I’d get a second opinion from a highly skilled cosmetic dentist. Check the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (aacd.com) to see if there is an accredited cosmetic dentist in your area. They’re among the top cosmetic dentists in the country. Depending on the dentures, they might be able to help you get a refund so you can have some new ones made.

This blog is brought Dr. Jerome Cha.