WHEN SHOULD YOU REPLACE YOUR DENTURES?
On average, due to the factors listed below, dentures should be replaced within four to eight years. This would seem to imply that, on average, denture teeth will wear out within that time and/or the average denture patient’s jaws have changed so much that a new denture must be redone.
Every individual denture patient has different needs. Although there are other factors involved, when a Denturist evaluates your dentures and oral health, the following are considered to be the primary factors used to determine the need to replace dentures:
SHRINKING OF THE UPPER AND LOWER JAWS AND DECREASING VERTICAL DIMENSION:
Every individual has an ideal distance between their upper and lower jaws (or how much your mouth is naturally opened or closed). This is called vertical dimension, and it is unique for each individual. When a person’s vertical dimension, or mouth opening, is in the correct position they are able to look better, chew better and prevent potential problems that can occur in the temporalmandibular joint.
Individuals who wear dentures will see a continued shrinkage of the bone beneath their gums for the rest of their lives. This leads to a change in vertical dimension and the denture gets loose. Changes as little as 2-3 mm can have a substantial impact on how a someone who wears dentures is able to function. Additional plastic (acrylic resin) is added to the inside of a loosening denture (called relining a denture) to stabilize it by reducing looseness caused from jaw shrinkage. However, relining does not restore vertical dimension in an accurate way.
When vertical dimension has been lost by three millimeters or more a new denture should be fabricated in order to restore vertical dimension and maintain functional health.
There are individuals who have worn the same denture for extended periods with considerable change of vertical dimension over time. Since vertical dimension loss is a slow, progressive, process they have gradually adapted to a continually increasing closed bite position. These individuals often have a sunken facial appearance and usually appear much older than they should.
When a person continues to function under these conditions for a prolonged period of time it usually leads to changes to how a person naturally chews and permanent alterations to the temporalmandibular joints, or TMJ. This can lead to significant pain and difficulty with eating and even the jaw motions involved with speech. It frequently becomes quite difficult, if not impossible, to restore such individual’s proper vertical dimension and chewing efficiency by relining and repairing this older denture, and the denture should be preplaced.
TOOTH WEAR: Aside from impaired ability to chew effectively, excess tooth wear will adversely affect esthetics and cause other problems associated with lost vertical dimension, as described above. While premium denture teeth will wear at a slower rate than “cheap” plastic teeth, they nevertheless will wear and need to be replaced as well.
DENTURE WEAR: While the biomaterials used to fabricate dentures today are quite durable, they still deteriorate and exhibit change over time – – no longer properly fitting, even after relining.
Aging plastic looses its natural appearance and texture, and coloration fades, making dentures look quite artificial. Deteriorating plastic also makes it easier for dentures to become excessively contaminated with microorganisms. This contributes to mouth irritation and bad taste, and socially unacceptable odors will develop that no amount of denture cleaning will seem to eliminate.
What you may not be aware of is that over time, the continued compression of the tissues under full dentures results in loss of bone and gum tissue volume. The bone that formerly supported your teeth is not designed to withstand these forces, and in response, it resorbs or melts away over time resulting in what you are experiencing now loose-fitting dentures. The beauty of implants is that they stop the resorption process by actually stabilizing the bone to prevent further loss.
Loose dentures are a common problem for people who wear full or complete dentures, especially if you have worn them for a long time. Whether or not new dentures are needed depends not only upon the condition of your existing dentures but also on how much the supporting tissues have changed. (The average life span of a denture is 5 years!) Over time, the continued compression of the tissues under full dentures results in loss of bone and gum tissue volume.
A number of questions, therefore, arise to determine the next best option to implants in an effort to stabilize your dentures:
Your denturist will help you assess if it is in your best interests to make new dentures or reline (refit) your existing dentures as an interim measure.
There are some tricks to improve the fit of your dentures temporarily. Relining dentures is generally necessary when full (removable) dentures become loose, after years of wear. Because the rate of bone loss differs from person to person, some denture wearers may need more frequent relines than others. Upper dentures tend to fit better and be less problematic than lower dentures because they have a much larger surface area on which to suction and rest.
There are two ways to reline your existing dentures:
Dental implants are generally the best, if not only, option for long-term denture wearers with extremely loose-fitting dentures.
If your denturist feels that a reline will not achieve the fit and stability desired, then remaking the dentures is the next option to consider. Other reasons for remaking the dentures are the wear of the denture teeth, poor esthetics, and poor condition of the denture’s base material.
In spite of the best efforts of the denturist, satisfaction cannot be guaranteed with the fit and function of previously loose dentures, particularly if you have extensive bone and gum tissue loss. At this stage, it may be best to consider any reline option temporary. This is the reason why dental implants are generally the best, if not only, option for long-term denture wearers with extremely loose-fitting dentures.
A new denture, particularly a lower one, can be successfully supported by implants. There are a number of options including mini-implants or as few as two implants (the minimum) that can provide stability for a denture. And because you will not need every tooth replaced by an implant, the cost is not as great as you may think. In fact, many people find implants to be a feasible and realistic solution once they compare the ongoing maintenance and discomfort of ill-fitting dentures to the cost and benefit implants provide with many years of successful and stable denture wear.
Improved function, biting, chewing, talking, and smiling will provide you with improved self-confidence and well-being with relined, renewed dentures or implant-supported dentures. Ask your dentist about financing plans or consider saving over time so that dental implants can ultimately help resolve your denture problem in a more long-term way.
Millions of people lack some or all of their teeth. Resulting problems are not limited to poor appearance. Missing teeth make it difficult to chew food or even to speak. Muscles lose elasticity and the face begins to sag. The simple smile — a primary way to engage with others — may become impossible. Thankfully, there are solutions. Dentures can improve your facial appearance and self-confidence, especially if you have been missing a number of teeth over a long period of time. By replacing missing teeth dentures can help you speak better, improve the chewing of most foods, and restore a natural-looking smile. After a period of adjustment, properly fitting dentures will be comfortable, and, they will boost your self-esteem.