Traditionally, when someone lost all of their teeth, removable dentures were the only option to restore a smile. With dentures come some compromises; they can be ill-fitting and uncomfortable, making chewing difficult. Today, technology has advanced and better options are available ranging from better fitting and more esthetic dentures to implant-supported porcelain bridges that look and function as well as natural teeth.
Often those with traditional dentures have difficulty chewing anything more than soft food. In fact, those with full dentures can only chew about 10% as well as those with all their natural teeth. With technological improvements, it’s now possible to have better dentures. Instead of taking messy impressions requiring 5-6 visits over the course of months, digital scans of the tissue in the mouth can be made and a new denture can be digitally designed and 3D-milled. This can cut down on the time making a denture, improve the fit, and also lead to a stronger denture that lasts longer. Other techniques have also been improved that allow dentures to be much more natural and lifelike.
Even a perfectly made denture will still have some limitations. Using dental implants to support a denture can be a great way to improve function. This is called an “overdenture.” Placing as few as two implants allows the denture to be anchored to them, which gives a much tighter fit than a denture alone. This allows a patient the ability to chew much harder foods with better stability. In addition, the patient’s current denture can often be converted to fit the new implants which can save significant cost.
Finally, teeth can be created that function and look as great as a full mouth of healthy teeth to replace dentures all together. The procedure, commonly called “all-on-four” or “all-on-six,” involves placing 4 or 6 dental implants and permanently fixing a porcelain bridge to the implants. The fabrication of this incredibly strong prosthesis means that patients can chew just about anything they choose with no issues. They are also much more comfortable and considerably less bulky than traditional dentures. They look beautiful and last a long time as well. For many patients, this is an ideal treatment and gives them back the teeth and smile they had when they were younger.
Many denture patients feel they are stuck with what they have and are unaware they may be a candidate for an alternative. If you or someone you know is unhappy with their dentures, speak to your dentist about options. In the end, having a beautiful smile and a healthy, comfortable mouth is possible and can do wonders for overall well-being and self-esteem.
Dr. Nick is with Palm Desert Smiles and can be reached at (760) 568.3602.