LEARNING WHEN TO REPLACE DENTURES
There is no specifically agreed upon timeline according to denturists as to when a denture should be replaced.
There are instances where dentures have been replaced after one year or less, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are people who have worn the same dentures for 25 or more years. These ranges obviously are extremes. However, on average, denturists seem to be replacing dentures every five to seven years. There are a number of different things that need to be examined to determine whether it is time for a new set.
The main things a denturist will look for are the wear on the teeth, and the amount of bone loss since those dentures were placed.
When teeth are extracted, there is a fair amount of bone loss that takes place within the first few months. After this time, the bone loss slows but your tissues will always be changing. For some, the rate of loss is very rapid, while others maintain a fair amount of bone well into their 80s or even 90s. But regardless of the rate of loss, there will be a time when the changes in the mouth are too great and a new denture will need to be made to accommodate your new gums. There are some individuals who have worn the same dentures for years and years with a significant amount of bone loss without even realizing it. Over time, the person will create an over closed bite position which will cause a lot of strain on the jaw and pain. An over closed bite position also gives a sunken facial appearance which makes the individual appear much older than their chronological age.
Over time, the teeth will also wear and lose the vertical height that they once had. This will also give the face a more sunken and over closed appearance. Worn teeth also make it increasingly more difficult to eat. There comes a time when some individuals will no longer be chewing their foods, but rather mashing through their meals.
The acrylic on a denture also does not last forever. Although these materials are quite durable, they still deteriorate and warp slightly over time. Aging plastic loses its natural appearance and texture, and colouration fades, making dentures look quite artificial.
Deteriorating plastic also makes it easier for dentures to become excessively contaminated with micro-organisms. This contributes to mouth irritation and bad taste, and socially unacceptable odors will develop that no amount of denture cleaning will seem to eliminate.
Although some patients have a hard time letting go of their old dentures (like an old comfortable pair of shoes) eventually you do need a new pair. Replacing your dentures is a necessity, not a luxury. It is about taking care of yourself and maintaining good oral health
IF YOU ARE MISSING TEETH, YOU ARE LOSING JAW BONE STRUCTURE
If you have worn a denture for a few years, you already know about bone loss. The reason your denture doesn't fit like a year ago, is that you don't have the same jaw bone structure to support it. When you go back to the denturist they reline it, and then a year later (or sooner) you are back again. Major bone loss as a result of wearing a denture is not a myth. You witness it each time your denture doesn't fit as well as it did just months before. The denture structure didn't change, your jaw bone did! If you continue to wait you will loose enough bone that you will never be able to get a denture to fit satisfactorily. Think about it. Once enough jaw bone is gone, what will the denture anchor to? If you think it will get better down the road, think again. The more bone you loose the worse your denture experience will be. Less bone means you will have fewer options if any for a permanent replacement. Talk a denturist and find out if you are a candidate for dental implants. This procedure will stop the bone loss NOW!
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COMMON PROBLEMS FOR DENTURE WEARERS
Loose or improper fitting dentures can cause excessive friction between the soft tissues and the dentures, resulting in sore spots that may become infected.
Poor Chewing Ability
A denture that doesn't fit or teeth that don't function effectively can make it difficult to chew food properly. As a result, many nutritious and harder-to-chew foods may be eliminated from the diet. In these cases, digestion and overall good health are affected.
"Chicklet" teeth that are all the same color can be a tell-tale sign that a person is wearing a denture. The same is true with overly dark teeth. Other signs are flat teeth, "picket fence" teeth, too much gum, too much teeth or not enough teeth showing.
Inferior denture teeth can wear excessively. This "shortening" of the teeth leads to a shortening of the face. That will increase the wrinkles around your mouth, cheeks and chin. The end result? You look older.
At least once a year, you should make an appointment with your denturist for a thorough examination of your entire mouth. Such an examination provides your denturist with an opportunity to correct any problems that may have appeared due to natural and progressive changes in your oral structures that can cause shifting of the dentures, undue pressure on supporting ridges, or damage to oral structures and bony projections.
This step is crucial to maintaining correct alignment of your dentures as well as good oral health and healthy ridges. In addition, regular professional cleaning and polishing will help to prevent disagreeable tastes and odors from forming on your dentures.
GETTING THE RIGHT FIT & PREMATURE AGING
Probably the most important aspect of denture wear within the context of premature aging is the “fit” of the denture in terms the sizing of the denture and how well the denture sits on the gums and ridges. This is because the teeth and gums constitute the supportive structures that determine the appearance of the lower part of the face. Any good denturist can identify an ill-fitting denture simply through visually examining the denture wearer’s facial features and expressions.
A patient wearing an ill-fitting denture often displays the following symptoms;
It can therefore be established that wearing a denture that is not properly tailored to the denture wearers personal requirements will significantly increase the probability of displaying some of the outlined symptoms. It is important to note that because the gums and supportive structures change over time, a denture typically needs replacing every 5 to 7 years.
- An inability to pronounce certain words and phases
- A compulsion to bite down on the denture when in conversation
- Drooping and thinning of the top lip
- Fine lines around the lips and mouth area through the frequent tensing of facial muscles
- A reduced distance between the nose and chin
As we progress through the aging process, our gums and ridges begin to shrink and recede which often results in denture slippage and movement, forcing the denture wearer to continuously bite down on the denture in order to keep it in place. It is the frequent tensing of the facial muscles that will ultimately enhance the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, creating a very similar effect that smoking has on facial aging.
As a denture wearer if you begin to exhibit any of these symptoms you must seek a consultation with your denturist so that he or she can adjust the fit of your denture to accommodate any changes that you have experienced. It is important to remember that the longer you wear an ill-fitting denture the more likely you are to demonstrate the symptoms of premature aging.