Food for Thought About Dentures

Should I get dentures? It is a common question, and one I hear on a weekly basis. And while sometimes the answer is a clear “yes” or a definite “no,” there are many, many times when the answer is a solid “maybe.” If, for whatever reason, you are considering a denture, then it is important for you to understand what some of the consequences may be.

Function: Studies have shown that with a well fitting denture in an experienced wearer, chewing efficiency is usually no more than about 20% what it would be with a full set of natural teeth. Some of this can be overcome using implants to hold the denture in place (especially the lower).

Esthetics: Dentures can instantly make your smile look better. They can also have some negative long-term effects. When your teeth come out, your face starts aging more rapidly due to inevitable bone loss. This typically leads to a sunken appearance that is only overcome when the dentures are in place.

Fit/Feel: If there is one thing I cannot stress enough, it is that dentures are a big change that will require some adaptation. I don’t say this to scare or dissuade you, but to prepare you. They will feel big. They will move around a little (and maybe a lot). They will affect how you taste your food, and they may even induce a gag reflex. While modern dentistry has answers for a lot of these problems, they are still very real obstacles that must be overcome.

Psychological effects: Believe it or not, you might actually miss your teeth. Many patients feel a sense of loss and/or regret when they get their teeth pulled. Additionally, in some circles there is a negative social connotation to dentures that can lead to harmful psychological consequences.

Alternatives: Many people are unable to put huge investments of time or money into their teeth, and dentures may seem like the only way to get their smile back. One good alternative I have seen are partial dentures, saving the healthiest teeth and thus overcoming many of the things talked about in this article. Implant supported dentures also pose possibilities for people who want to avoid some of the negative side effects of traditional dentures.

Positive effects: Despite all this, I have seen some people’s lives take a major turn for the better after getting dentures. Many people experience huge increases in confidence, appearance, and comfort after getting dentures and are extremely grateful for the change. I admit, I am a dentist in Coeur d'Alene and I like saving teeth when I can. At the same time, it is wonderful to see these positive changes in people.

So in closing I’ll say what I do to all my patients- don’t take this decision lightly. Make sure you have all of the information you need to make the best decision for you. Remember, you can only make it once and then you have the rest of your life to live with it. Choose wisely.

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