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Tonbridge Dental Blog

Blog post

Dental Boot Camp – Dentures & Implants

March 6, 2011 | Featured

Remember Uncle Brian? His teeth used to drop out whenever he fell asleep on the armchair? Or Auntie Mary? That time her denture flew out when she laughed? She was so embarrassed…

Many people in the United Kingdom believe that as they get older, they will lose their teeth. This is based largely upon the experiences of their parents who lost teeth and were given dentures which was the only option at the time. The other option being to remain toothless.

Unfortunately, the old style dentures rested on the gums and tended to strip them away from the remaining teeth. Hence they were known as ‘Gum Strippers’

This was the beginning of the end. For these patients the experience of tooth loss was accelerated.

Losing teeth has emotional as well as physical effects on the individual. For example:

  • Adjacent teeth, now unsupported, can tilt, rotate or drift, leading to imbalance in the bite. This can cause difficulty eating and also problems with the jaw joints (The TMJ or Temporo Mandibular Joint which allows the jaw to move)
  • Bone is lost whenever a tooth is lost. In someone with no teeth, studies have shown that this bone loss can be over a centimetre in the first 15 years, with the majority occurring in the lower jaw. The lower jaw then closes over, conjuring up images of old toothless men in ‘gurning’ competitions..
  • Physically, with tooth loss, the patient begins to look older. The corners of the mouth close over as the chin moves up and forward due to tooth and bone loss. The lips and cheeks no longer have the support they once had. Emotionally the patient begins to ‘feel’ older.
  • The chewing efficiency of a denture is approximately 1/6th that of natural teeth. This leads to an increasingly poor diet and on average more reliance on medications to help digestion. Medics recommend an increased intake of fibrous and starchy foods both in the treatment and prevention of such diseases as: Dumping syndrome, Gall stones, Crohns disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and colonic cancer.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) suggests a requirement for minimal oral health as being a lower denture supported by two implants against a conventional upper denture. This is because an implant retained lower denture preserves chewing efficiency, decreases bone loss, and improves the health of the individual.

Of course it would be better to avoid the progression to complete dentures. This can be achieved by single tooth replacement using implants. For those patients who already have complete dentures, implants provide a convenient and affordable means of improving the function and appearance of their dentures.

References:

Can Implants Improve General Health?
Tipton, Paul – Independent Dentistry February 1996

The Emotional Effect of Tooth Loss in Edentulous People
Fiske & Davis, British Dental Journal, Vol 184 No 2 January 24 1998