YOUR TWO BEST FRIENDS!
Courtesy Star Dental Systems, Colorado Springs LIVING WELL Magazine
Mary G. is an attractive woman in her early 60s. Her medical history shows nothing alarming. The history of her sporadic dental care, however, was evident upon examination and evaluation: cracked fillings, a couple of root canals and many lost teeth, in addition to a gum disease called periodontitis.
After years of emergency dental care and bleeding gums, Mary had decided it was time to advance into full upper and lower dentures. The doctor is recommending Mary consider saving a few teeth.
Quite often, full dentures are a patient’s only option. Lifestyle and financial resources are critical factors when evaluating a treatment plan for tooth loss. Patients often say, “I’m so tired of tooth problems so let’s just ‘yank’ them out and put in dentures!” This statement rings of frustration and hope.
Progressing into dentures successfully requires patience and dedication from both the patient and the doctor. Dentures are artificial teeth. They are never going to feel like natural teeth. With adjustments, maintenance, and a positive flexible attitude, your dentures will serve you well––both in appearance and overall health.
So, who are your two best friends? Did you guess “upper denture and lower denture?” The correct answer is your lower cuspids. These two teeth, if preserved, can solve the most frustrating aspect of wearing dentures––the pesky lower denture. The upper denture has the benefit of a palate (the roof of your mouth). Once properly fitted, the upper denture creates a suction with the palate that is often quite stable.
The lower denture is an entirely different experience. This horseshoe shaped prosthetic must ride on the boney ridge of your jaw. There is no “palate” to assist with stability. The lower denture may rock side-to-side or front to back. It wants to “fly out.” One solution is to save the lower cuspids and any other lower teeth as “anchors” for a partial denture. The partial denture is a prosthesis that allows space for existing teeth and clasps itself to these restored natural teeth. No more “flying out.”
You may ask, “What about implants instead of saving a few teeth?” Implants are a wonderful technology and have proven to be nothing short of miraculous for some patients. It is important to know that not everyone is a candidate for implants. The condition of the patient’s gums and bones are major considerations and not everyone will qualify. Why not try to save the cuspids. They are already “implanted.” The same goes for the upper arch, but we are focusing on the lower denture in this article.
If the new patient examination shows the possibility of retaining critical teeth for anchoring a partial, the doctor will recommend any necessary fillings or crowns. You will then be referred to the doctor’s dental hygienist for further evaluation of any periodontis and a treatment plan for restoring healthy gums and bone.
Those cuspids will be your two best friends. Treat them the way you would any “best friend” by continuing to maintain them with regular visits with the hygienist.
And speaking of maintenance – don’t forget your regular check ups. Even if you’re wearing full upper and lower dentures, it is important to have the fit checked. Relines of your dentures and partial dentures will maintain the fit as changes occur in your gums and bones (thinning and shrinkage as we age).
Star Dental Systems may be reached at 888-807-3613.
Upper full denture