Another way of replacing missing teeth is with implants – devices that permanently attach themselves directly to the bone of the jaw and protrude through the gum just as teeth do. They overcome the difficulty of dentures which might move about with the act of chewing. The cost of implants is prohibitive for many people. At Growing Beautiful Smiles, we do not provide implant services, but a will be happy to discuss them with you and put you in touch with practitioners who do.
Replacing all of the teeth in the jaws usually is done with a full (“complete”) denture. There are many things to consider…
A full denture can be made for the upper jaw (“upper full denture”) or the lower jaw (“lower full denture.”) or both.
When the Device is Provided:
“Standard” – The denture is provided to replace teeth extracted in the past – often to replace an older denture.
“Immediate” – The denture is provided at the same appointment that the teeth are extracted. This prevents “facing the world” without teeth and helps protect the extraction sites during healing. Immediate dentures will almost certainly need relines as healing progresses.
One of the advantages of full dentures can also be one of their sources of disappointment; there is a great variety of appearance possible. We want to try hard to get the best result we can. We find that doing some or all of the following is helpful.
- Discuss what you like and dislike about your existing teeth (or dentures.) Consider the size, position, colour, shape and arrangement of the teeth.
- Some people have had dentures for a long time with the regret that they never looked anything like their natural teeth which they liked. Find a picture of yourself before your teeth were removed.
- Collect photographs of smiles that you like and would like to have.
- Before the dentures are finalized, a try-in appointment occurs. This allows us to check the fit and the bite. It allows you to check the appearance. That is the time to make changes. After that, it’s too late. Bring along a close friend or family member to that appointment to give you feedback and to “advocate” for you in case you are to “shy” or “polite” to be critical. Nowhere is it written that there can be only one try-in session.
Designing the Bite
When people chew with natural teeth, their jaw movements are so precisely controlled, it makes the left hand of a concert violinist look clumsy by comparison. The elegance and precision of control is made possible because each tooth is is attached to the jawbone by a ligament that contains pressure receptors. The receptors are connected to a central computer – the brain. The brain controls the movement of the jaw so that the teeth hit precisely “on target” while keeping the tongue and cheeks out of the way. Actually the tongue and cheeks hover very close to danger, because their jobs are to push food between the cheeks without getting “caught.”
When the natural teeth are lost, so is the feedback connection to the brain. The brain has to guide the jaw bearing dentures without much of the important information that it needs. It no longer can control the jaw with the elegant precision of the past.
When natural back teeth chew, the “hill” (cusp) on one tooth meets a valley (fossa) on a corresponding tooth on the other jaw. The action is like that of a mortar and pestle. That works well for teeth anchored firmly to the bone. It’s not a good design for denture teeth that are not so firmly anchored. When the side of a cusp meets that of a fossa, there is a strong tendency to dislodge the denture (push it sideways.)
We utilize a different design modelled after a knife on a kitchen cutting board. That’s a good way to chop up food too. With this design, the biting surfaces of the upper back teeth are flat. There is one long “cusp” on each lower back tooth extending from front to back. When several such teeth are lined up on a denture it forms sort of a dull knife edge.
Now the need to for the mortar to hit the precise centre of the pestle is gone. There is only the need for a knife to hit somewhere on the much broader target of a chopping block. No matter where it hits, the generated forces tend to snug the upper denture up and the lower denture down.
It is true that if the dentures are removed from the mouth, dried off and examined closely, the back teeth look strange. But in the mouth from a conversational distance, they are undetectable.
An elegant solution to offset a loss of elegant control!
Your Choices about Materials Safety
In the alternative world there tends to be more concern than the mainstream about the safety of the materials used.
Pink (gum coloured) acrylic (plastic) used to achieve it colour using cadmium salts. Assuming that everything eventually leaches out of everything, that is not a good choice. Cadmium is toxic. We always specify that a denture be made from “cadmium free” material, although we have some doubt that cadmium is still used for this purpose.
Curing the Plastic
The plastic is generally supplied to the dental laboratories as a powder (polymer) and a liquid (monomer.) A polymer is a bunch of identical molecules (the monomers) bound together. When these two are mixed together, a chemical (“polymeriation”) reaction occurs, especially when heat is applied. The longer the duration of the heat, the more complete the reaction which involves the monomers causing the linking of the existing polymers into ever larger polymers.
Any toxicity or hypersensitivity will be due to unbound molecules (monomer) that failed to participate in the reaction. These unreacted monomer molecules can leach out and potentially interfere with the patient’s biochemistry.
The late Dr. Hulda Clark had a “recipe” in one of her books that instructed dental patients how to heat the dentures at home to complete the polymerization reaction. There was q risk of overheating and destroying the denture in this process. The dental laboratory we use safely continues the application of heat for hours beyond what is usual to reduce massively (eliminate?) the monomer. That is far better than what Hulda Clark specified.
Having said that, it is prudent to assume that some undisclosed ingredient, perhaps something the denture material manufacturer considers a “proprietary secret” is in the denture. It is also prudent to assume that it is leaching out. The sad fact is that we live in a toxic world. At Growing Beautiful Smiles we do what we can to minimize toxins. That does not mean we eliminate them! Assume therefore that your denture is one more component of the toxic environment in which you live. Take steps to detoxify from heavy metals and estrogens. Your best bet is to consult a naturopathic doctor who is trained in detoxification.