How A Denture Can Be Ruining Your Health

Posted on Aug 13, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Since 1962, the U.S. has allowed pharmaceutical companies to advertise their drugs directly to the public. New Zealand is the only other country that has legalized this, which (to me) is rather telling of its ‘benefits’ in educating the general public.

It’s legality is not the issue here. In the promotions, these ads may name some of the side effects associated with that particular medication. These can include minor problems, such as “redness at the injection site,” to greater issues such as “weight gain,” to dire concerns, such as “increased risk for leukemia.”

Sometimes, it’s what you don’t know that can be the greatest detriment when it comes to our health and well-being. As a periodontal specialist, this has always been a particular concern: Do people really know the full story when it comes to dentures?

Since full dentures are not a prescribed medication, they are widely recommended and placed to replace a full ‘arch’ of upper or lower teeth. Although a denture can replace missing teeth, it falls very short when it comes to actually ‘restoring’ teeth.

There are far more things that a denture cannot do than what it can.

For example, a denture can give you the appearance of teeth and enable you to speak properly. A properly-fitted denture can also enable you to chew food again. But, the snug fit of a denture when initially made may be very different to how it fits a year later.

It is what occurs BENEATH the gums that can trigger a detrimental chain of events.

Natural tooth roots are held by the upper and lower jaw bones. With this as their foundation, tooth roots are able to support teeth that can function dependably. For example, having the sturdy foundation of the jaw bones, teeth can bite and chew with stability.

This means your teeth can endure the rigorous action of biting into a crunchy carrot or chewing a thick pork chop without the worry of movement. Natural teeth are held firmly by a solid mass of bone.

Here’s the problem many people are unaware exists: When the roots of natural teeth are removed from the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink. This process is known as resorption. As the bone declines in height and width, the gum-covered ‘arch’ where teeth were once held begins to flatten out.

Because a denture is first made to conform to the specific contours of this arch, this means that the denture’s foundation is declining, providing less and less of a base for the denture to wrap.

Bone resorption is the beginning of a long list of problems.

When a denture is not secured by the bone, it must rely on what it rests upon. When the arch is high and full, the denture can hold on more securely while eating, speaking, or laughing.

However, as the arch shrinks, the added help of denture adhesives or pastes are needed. Unfortunately, once the denture begins to move or slip, the underlying problem will only worsen. As bone loss becomes more severe, these denture products will be of little help.

What a “rocky” denture does to your overall health often hides in the background. But, the problems exist all the same. For example, people find that eating some foods are too challenging for a denture. They resort to eating foods that are soft and dissolve easily in the mouth.

Wearing dentures can lead to alterations in food choices, often not-so-good ones.

A healthy diet includes foods that provide a balanced mix of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, we want to eat foods that are flavorful and satisfying – right?!!! So, when a denture wearer switches from a kale salad to mashed potatoes, the trade-off is in nutrition along with the satisfaction that chewing provides.

There is an intricate relationship between the function of chewing and the brain’s ability to signal satiety (the perception of being full). When people are able to chew without the worry of a denture’s movement (which leads to uncomfortable rubbing on tender gum tissues), they are able to chew longer and more efficiently.

Additionally, proper chewing is a known support to the digestive process. In grade school, we all learned that the first phase of digestion begins in the mouth. As we chew, saliva automatically surges digestive acids into the mouth to help break down foods so they are ready to be processed further once swallowed.

However, not being able to chew well typically means it is done less. It is to no surprise that people who are denture wearers have more gastro-intestinal problems than people who have their own teeth. Of course, inadequate digestion causes a domino effect throughout the body.

In a 2013 article shared by the International Journal of Dentistry (through the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health) edentulism (losing all of one’s natural teeth) leads to:

• Lower intake of fruits and vegetables, fiber, and carotene and increased cholesterol and saturated fats, in addition to a higher prevalence of obesity, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and gastrointestinal disorders.
• higher rates of chronic inflammatory changes of the gastric lining, upper gastrointestinal and pancreatic cancer, and higher rates of peptic or duodenal ulcers.
• greater risk of noninsulin-dependent diabetes.
• greater risk of heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, and stroke.
• decreased daily function, physical activity, and resulting quality of life.
• higher risk of chronic kidney disease.
• higher risk of sleep apnea.

The periodontal specialty includes the advanced training and skills of diagnosing and placing dental implants. They are so beneficial to your oral and overall health that this specialized branch of dentistry includes them in our ability to enhance the oral wellness of patients.

Dental implants are positioned in the jaw bone. This not only restores the same, sturdy foundation that natural teeth once had, the presence of the implanted portions provide stimulation to the bone.

Dental implants provide three major benefits…

(1). An implant helps to halt the process of bone loss, preserving bone mass. This not only supports the ability to bite and chew, dental implants enable eating to occur without movement. No more slips, clicks or uncomfortable rubbing on tender gums.

(2). With implants, people are able to eat a healthy diet AND chew it properly. This support digestion, which in turn supports every part of the body.

(3). When people feel confident smiling, laughing, and eating in social settings, they tend to be more active socially. Being active with other people is a basic human need and necessary for our mental well-being. When the fear of embarrassment because of “slippery” dentures is eliminated, people have more confidence in these settings.

If you wear dentures, PLEASE learn the facts surrounding dental implants. Many people assume they are too expensive. Yet, what is needed for your specific situation may be less expensive than you realize.

Often, just 4 or 6 strategically-placed implants can support a full arch of replacement teeth.

Too, many dental offices offer payment plans so monthly fees are manageable to most budgets. Some plans are interest-fee and require no down payment.

It is important, too, that you know this: Once bone loss begins, it will continue at a more rapid pace with each passing year. This means that your bone will become thinner and thinner at a faster and faster rate each year.

If you’re missing all of your natural teeth, call 828-274-9440 soon to schedule an implant consultation. During this time, I’ll explain the implant systems best for your needs and the process involved. I’ll also answer your questions thoroughly. This will help you make decisions that are right for you.


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