For most people, tooth loss is a normal part of growing older. Although it is normal to experience tooth loss, many people opt for a replacement option. Dentures remain the most common tooth replacement option, but do they help people or hurt them?
A toothless appearance is very unattractive, and many people who are toothless do not feel comfortable socializing, which can lead to isolation, depression, and more. Dentures can give people an attractive smile after they have lost their teeth, which means that people feel more confident and happy socializing with friends and relatives. This can help them lead happier, healthier, and longer lives.
Friend: Dentures Can Help with Chewing
Without teeth, people are often unable to eat a full diet of varied foods. This prevents them from getting the nutrition they need to maintain proper health, not to mention it limits their enjoyment of food. Again, dentures can help improve the quality of life for people who have lost their teeth.
Foe: Dentures Can Cause Pain
Unfortunately, even though dentures allow people to chew more foods, they can also cause pain when chewing. The basic problem is that dentures rest on the gums, and the gums were never meant to support the force of chewing–that should be conveyed by the teeth to the jawbone. When dentures put this force on the gums, people feel pain.
Foe: Denture Adhesive Can Be Toxic
Denture adhesive, the glue-like substance used to hold dentures in place, has been shown to be potentially toxic. When people use a lot of denture adhesive, they may ingest enough zinc to experience zinc toxicity, a form of heavy metal poisoning, that can result in neurological damage.
Foe: Can Dentures Lead to Tooth Loss?
A recent study suggested that dentures may lead to tooth loss. The study looked at a population of adults with an average age of 77, and found that the people with dentures were more likely to lose teeth than those that did not have dentures. Researchers concluded that dentures, when combined with a high number of pre-existing cavities acted “synergistically” to lead to greater risk of tooth loss.
Friend or Foe Depends on the Fit and the Care
According to dentist Ken Siegel at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell in Philadelphia, “Most problems users experience with dentures are due to a poor fit. People should investigate options for better-fitting dentures. “The remaining problems people experience with dentures come from poor care or maintenance. People should make sure they understand how to care of their dentures and follow those instructions precisely.” Two relatively new options for better-fitting dentures are implant-supported dentures and Strickland Facelift Dentures™. Implant-supported dentures clip to supports that are anchored in the jawbone. These secure the dentures in place, and transmit the bite force directly to the jaw bone similar to the way natural teeth do. Strickland Facelift Dentures are designed to take into account more aspects of the mouth system than traditional dentures. These dentures are partly held in place by the action of muscles in the mouth, resulting in good fit and function. If denture wearers follow these instructions, they will be happy with the benefits of their dentures, including the appearance, fit, and even comfort of their dentures.
Thanks to Dr. Ken Siegel of Dental Excellence of Blue Bell in Philadelphia for his contribution to this article.