Unfortunately, the two most common routes that people decide to take to address their missing and failing teeth are dentures or bridges. These are usually the most economic decision and this is why they are chosen initially. Implants, though more expensive, have become more commonplace and like all things in the market the price adjusts downward.
Today there is a lesser gap in the affordability of dental implants than one might think.
Once you evaluate all your options it is important to note the drastic difference that implants have between dentures and bridges and why are they absolute worth the higher price. Dental implants are the ONLY permanent solution, working successfully 98% of the time after ten years, which cannot be said for dentures or bridges. Furthermore, many of the people that are looking for a satisfactory solution to their missing or failing teeth have already tried and bridges before they ended up visiting our office. As a result, we help people who feel like this is their last and final chance to make things normal for them. A huge goal at our practice, is to educate people EARLY before they are shocked to realize the dissatisfaction and issues that bridges and dentures may cause.
What I tell all my patients about dentures: Many patients come to me initially only seeking interest in dentures. I always want to set realistic expectations with dentures so that patients know exactly what they are getting into so I tell them this story:
The best a denture will ever be is a wooden peg.
Think back to the Civil War days- when a soldier lost a limb the best prosthetic they could offer was a wooden leg and some crutches. Actually in this same era, if you had missing teeth, and you were lucky you would get dentures as well. Let’s fast forward to the future and take note of the differences. We have far surpassed the technology of a wooden peg and now offer titanium articulated joints that will take the place of what’s missing and what’s even more amazing is that many affected people do not let a missing limb stop them from remaining athletic and they may even have an advantage. This is the same for dental implants. They are the premium replacement and are built for the long run.
It is disheartening when I see patients from different practices that were never given the proper expectations and are extremely frustrated and disappointed with the quality of their dentures, unaware that dentures can only do so much and are as I have mentioned the “wooden peg.” The most common complaints that I’ve received from patients about their dentures are that:
- They often slip creating challenges for eating and talking, making it very obvious that they have dentures. This can cause many insecurities.
- When you are eating certain foods this can cause pain when biting down.
- The problems associated with the taste and ease of use of denture pastes and creams can be awful; a minty flavor does not guarantee a refreshing taste.
At our practice, the complaints of our patients are certainly taken very seriously. The concerns we have not only coming from wanting our patients satisfied and confident in their smile, but also concerns with the adverse health effects of dentures. From a medical professional’s standpoint these can be very problematic and include:
- Deteriorating bone quantity and density which cannot be corrected.
- Atrophy of the muscles that are unused.
- Restriction of blood flow to the mouth which can lead to even further complications.
Before I explain further, let’s do an experiment to demonstrate the impact blood flow has on gum tissue, specifically how it can be impeded by dentures, causing accelerated bone deterioration. Take your finger and press it into the back of your hand and lift it up after ten seconds. What do you notice? You will likely see for a short amount of time, a white off color area in the shape of your fingertip. Why is there? Because you have restricted the blood flow to those areas. This is exactly what happens with dentures and partials, they restrict blood flow!
A healthy flow of blood can be compared to a luscious river providing water and nutrients to the land around it. If water flow is impeded the land around it begins to deteriorate and wither away.
Except the restriction of blood flow is now causing your muscles to break down and your bone to wither away causing an older more “sunken in” look. Cigarettes can also restrict blood flow to the mouth in an even greater degree. This is ultimately why dentures and partial bridges do not work. They actually create further tooth, bone and muscle loss causing a vicious cycle and accelerating the aging process.
My goal is that each and every patient gets the solution that is best for them but that they are also aware of all of their options and the reality of the situation.
At the end of the day, I want you to go home extremely happy with your results and it is my job to inform you of all the pros and cons.