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The Trouble With Lower Dentures

lower denture pain People with a lot of cavities and other dental issues often get into a mindset where they just want to get out of pain.  Often, the most obvious answer is to get rid of the teeth that are causing so much trouble, and replace them with dentures.  Sometimes, however, dentures can cause even greater problems and people struggle more after dentures than they did with their natural, if cavity riddled, teeth.  Often, they don’t fully grasp how much of a challenge dentures, especially lower dentures, can be.

Thanks to modern dental advances, fewer people are having trouble with their lower dentures than once did, but there are still many people who struggle with pain from dentures that rub and place pressure on the gums, as well as embarrassment from dentures that slip when talking or eating.

And problems are much more common with lower dentures than with upper dentures.  There was once a dentist who would tell people, “I usually charge only for my upper dentures and I give my lower dentures for free because inevitably, patients come back with great problems with their lower dentures.”

Why are lower dentures so much more troublesome than upper dentures?  With upper dentures, a good impression and well made denture can get a good, effective seal, especially if the denture flanges and post stem are secure.  The upper arch of the mouth is essentially unmoveable, so a decent seal is all it takes to keep upper dentures in place.

The jaw and lower part of the mouth, on the other hand, does all of the movement to do the work of chewing, talking, etc.  In addition to the lower jaw constantly moving, the floor of the mouth tends to move as the tongue moves.

As if that weren’t enough, teeth are vital to the structure of the bone in the jaw.  When the teeth are extracted, the bone in the jaw tends to erode over time.  As the bone erodes, the denture no longer fits properly.  Ill fitting dentures can cause pressure and friction on the gums, which can lead to painful sores and infection.

All of these factors combine to make lower dentures challenging at best.

Statistically, about 9 out of every 10 people with lower dentures are unhappy with them.  When it comes to upper dentures, however, the opposite is true.  The vast majority of denture wearers are quite happy with upper dentures.  Lower dentures may well be the most difficult aspect of dentistry, and the one most likely to cause serious dissatisfaction in the patient.

The good news is that advances in dental implant technology make lower dentures fit better and remain securely in place.  Implants can dramatically improve the quality of life for many denture wearers, giving them a sense of confidence that some may not have experienced in years.

In the past, there have been two major obstacles to using implants with many patients.  First is the cost of placement.  Many implants are fairly large and require invasive surgery to place.  Besides the cost and recovery time, many patients have been poor candidates for implants because they lacked sufficient bone to support the implants.  The procedure could run thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars, putting it out of reach of even those who were good candidates.

Newer implants are a lot smaller and the procedure to place them is less invasive than it once was.  These miniature sized implants can be placed under local anesthesia with no incision or stitches and the patient’s existing dentures can be refitted, all in one visit and for much less than traditional implants.  They also require significantly less bone to support than larger implants.

These smaller implants allow dentists to refit existing dentures to snap into place on the implants so they stay firmly in place, regardless of what the wearer is doing.  Of course, the best situation is keeping natural teeth healthy and in place, but when teeth deteriorate, the smaller implants can make dentures a more satisfying option and less challenging option.

The potential to improve the quality of a patient’s life is gratifying, especially a patient who has suffered for years with ill-fitting dentures because they believed they had no other option.  Watching a patient able to enjoy their food, sometimes for the first time in years, is truly heart-warming.

If you are one of the many with lower dentures and you are experiencing problems with pain and embarrassment because of poor fit and excessive movement, talk to your dentist about the possibility of securing your denture with implants.

Of course, you can always discuss with your dentist whether the quality and quantity of the bone in your jaw is sufficient for a fixed prosthetic, but if either the bone or finances are an obstacle, there are other alternatives rather than continuing to suffer.

If you live in San Diego and need denture advice, Call (619) 630-7174 for a free consultation with Dr. .

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