• R. Davis, DDS

The Loose Denture Syndrome

Updated: Jul 16, 2018

THE DENTURE DILEMMA

I want to address a common issue among denture wearers.


The Dilemma:

Why is my lower denture loose …….. When the upper stays in?


The Concerns and Issues:

After having treated denture wearers exclusively for the past 42 years, a common concern among nearly all denture wearers is:

"My upper dentures are fine and stay in but the lowers are awful. They won’t stay in, they are unstable, they are loose, and they hurt. Further, that they have to utilize denture adhesives to keep them in and in order to use them."


Next, almost universally I get asked: "Can you reline them to make them stay in better?"

I hear that “my dentures affect my life, from speaking, to eating and socially”


These are legitimate concerns. The part of your body that your dentures take up happens to be in a very intimate location.


When you speak, most people tend to look at your mouth, and if your dentures are loose and slip/move, or even come out, when you are talking, it is a very, very embarrassing event for sure.


Smiling, laughing, talking, kissing, more talking, more smiling, more laughing, are all real and legitimate Issues of the "Loose Denture Syndrome". No wonder there is so much anxiety associated with the prospect of life in general with dentures!


The next thing is that most people simply avoid any discussion about dental health or dentures with their significant other, or spouse as it is a topic that is just too uncomfortable for them to broach.


The Social problem:

So, the conversation goes on with most people fully believing their lower denture does not fit --- yet their upper does fit, and that it must be some problem with the person who made them as they aren’t equal in any parameter of relative judgement.


Some just aren’t eager to get into the “denture dialogue” before they’ve even gotten to know their potential mate.


This is a recap of a story one of my patients related to me:

I am pretty much an "open book" type person and never shy away at the chance to tell others about my experiences, but there are times when even I am like, “Ugh, I really don’t feel like getting into it”. I can think back on times I’ve been in a rush or been focused on other more important things and someone would compliment my smile and comment as to how I keep teeth so white and fresh looking -- and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to disclose the information, not at all! It’s just that, sometimes, it totally highjacks a situation.


For instance. I was in labor with my daughter and the nurses were going over my medical history. It got to the point that they asked about previous surgeries, to which, I mentioned I had dental surgery. I was hoping they would leave it at that but they wanted to know to what extent my dental surgery was. So I told them I had all of my teeth pulled. They were shocked. I understand, completely. Hey, good news for you, they had no idea! But people become curious and that’s fine by me, just not when I am contracting every two to three minutes! I ended up giving them the whole backstory, just trying to be polite. It threw everything they/we were doing through a loop.


This is just one person's story, but most people would like to avoid that while on a date or any other social setting. You’re out to eat, you’re having light, flirty conversation, can you imagine talking about your extraction process and nightly cleaning regimen? Can you seriously see yourself explaining the slow, agonizing decline of your oral health over a candlelit dinner for two?


No! No, no, no, no, and no, in that order.


So it’s totally natural to be apprehensive in taking someone up on the offer of meeting up for dinner. Especially if you add in the fact that you’re concerned your teeth might fall out, or worse, that the two of you will kiss and they’ll run for the hills!

First, let’s discuss ‘first impression’. When you first say hello, will they be able to tell up front that something is off? To answer that question, here’s a scenario:

When you buy a new car, do you not suddenly begin to notice all of the other cars like yours on the road? You never saw so many Acadia’s until you purchased one, right? No, they aren’t copying you—you have just become more aware of their presence now that you have one.


Most people are not on the look-out for denture wearers. As much as it may seem that your date is determined to detect your dentures, that’s almost certainly not the case. For one, most everyone has the first-date jitters. Everything is sort of a blur, you can’t really focus on too much at once. Your date may notice you have an attractive smile but I doubt they have the time or even the opportunity to fully inspect the situation. So at first glance, unless your denture is as out-of-place looking as a doggie denture, i’m sure they’ve probably not noticed anything out-of-the-ordinary.


Can they detect it when you are laughing? Well, let’s be real, here. When someone laughs, can you detect strange things going on with their palate? Probably not. I know the denture palate is smooth and unnatural but this is not something that can be easily detected when someone is laughing. Personally, I have always been more drawn to the teeth when someone laughs. I may spot out a cavity or what not but never in my life have I been drawn to ones’ palate, that’s just sort of weird. If anyone inspects anything while you are laughing, they will probably just end up admiring the fact that you don’t have cavities.


But what if, during the course of the typical dating scenario, they do catch onto the fact that you wear dentures? What if they call you out on it?


Well, for one, that’s weird. Back to the cavity situation, would you call someone out for having a cavity? How strange is that? When most people imagine their date possibly discovering that they wear dentures, they don’t really delve too much into possible scenarios.


Think about it. If your date discovered that you wore dentures, what exactly are they going to do with that information? If they ask you about it, they risk looking sort of nutty. So most likely, they will not really acknowledge it. If they don’t call you back, well, that’s that. Next! Consider it courtesy that they are not wasting your time. If they do call you back, obviously your denture is not a problem.


So, what about kissing? Will they know? I have no idea. I’ve not kissed someone with dentures. My husband insists that he could never feel a difference when we kissed. My husband is a sweetheart and would never want to make me feel uncomfortable. My husband wants to kiss me. Why would he say, “Yeah, I felt a bunch of plastic and it was weird”? That would make kissing awkward for both of us. So, being the gentleman that he is, he’s always stood firm in his position: he can’t feel a thing, whether he can or can’t. This goes back to the ‘first impression’ scenario. If your date can feel something, what are they going to do? Ask you about it? Well, in this situation, they might… but that would mean they must not have been very into the kiss if they would disrupt it with a boatload of questions about your mouth. Right? I mean, that’s my logic. If they are into you and they are into kissing you, chances are, they aren’t going to stop a kiss to investigate your set-up.

Will dentures affect your ability to kiss? Well, that depends. Do your dentures affect your ability to eat or talk? If so, they may. If your dentures pop out or flop around in other situations, they will probably do the same whilst kissing. Of course this depends on how involved your kissing technique is. Adhesive is advisable, just in case. You could always take it back to the old school and practice kissing on the back of your hand! I kid, I kid.

Many people would also like to know how dentures will affect the more intimate moments, if you know what I mean. As with kissing, the only scenario you have to worry about is if you have a problem with loose dentures. Your dentures aren’t going to “hurt” anyone, if that’s what you’re worried about.

Overall, dentures should not interfere with your dating life. Yes, you may meet someone who is uncomfortable dating you because of your dentures.

You may also meet someone who is uncomfortable dating you because you don’t drive a Lexus.

You may also meet someone who is uncomfortable dating you because you aren’t in a band.

You may also meet someone who is uncomfortable dating you because your hair isn’t long enough.


Do you see where i’m going with this? People are either going to want to pursue you or they’re not. If they aren’t feeling it, keep moving!


I will end on this note: confidence is everything. If you appear to be self-conscious, that is the vibe you are going to let off. If you are insecure about your dentures, it may be apparent that something is off about you. No, that doesn’t mean they will be able to identify your dentures… it just means that they may know you are acting weird about something. Whether or not you disclose your dental status is your business. You can laugh and be confident without feeling that you have to let them in on your dental history. But over time, as the two of you become closer, I would hope you build a relationship on mutual trust and understanding. Nothing is worse than lugging around a deep, dark secret. I’ve exchanged messages with those who either were discovered or had to come clean after years and years of being with their partner. It may seem insignificant to you, but it could really make the other party feel betrayed in a sense.

But during the fun stages, there’s no real reason to have to state up front that you are a denture wearer unless you feel compelled to. Most will probably not be able to tell that you wear dentures and if they can, there’s a strong possibility that they wouldn’t utter a word about it. Kissing and being intimate should not be affected unless your dentures are loose. Have fun, be confident and save the medical history for another day.


The Solution:



Implants: Today, it is almost universally understood that Dental Implants are successfully used to support, retain, and stabilize otherwise Loose Dentures. The us of Implants to fix Loosed Dentures is "THE" solution.


While there are different styles and brands of Implants used, there are basically two different types of Implant Retained & Stabilized Dentures:


The "Fixed" Style, and the "Removable" Style. There are distinct similarities yet fundamental differences.


Both are good and effective solutions for the "Loose Dentures Syndrome". Both retain and stabilize a Loose Denture, and both keep the replacement prosthetics in place which resolves the Loose Dentures issue.


Both are “full arch dental prosthetics”. A full arch prosthetic is one that replaces all natural teeth in either or both arches. They are referenced by a number of terms:

A Hybrid – this is a cross between a denture and a bridge (the bridge being retained by Implants) as is the full arch dental prosthetic. "Hy-Bridge" is the common trademarked marketing name for this style, but is is still a replcement Dental Prosthetic that replaces missing teeth.

“All-on 4”. This is simply a registered tradename for the same type of prosthetic – this one is also a fixed prosthetic retained by Implants

An Implant Retained Denture (IRD). This is a removable full arch dental prosthetic. It is also retained and stabilized with Implants but is a removable version.

In actuality, there are two basic categories for a denture that utilizes Implants to stabilize/retain it:

The Removable type, and The Fixed Type.

The less expensive variety is the Removable type and this has it’s own Pros & Cons. This one can be somewhere between 1/3 to ½ the cost of the fixed variety -- this is a significant advantage with only minimal limitations.


Frankly, the casual observer cannot tell the difference from a Fixed or a Removable style from simply looking, while each may appear different, this cannot be ascertained by anyone other than a Dentist unless the patient discloses which type they have.


An Implant supported removable denture is a good alternative to to the fixed version – They are much less costly and they are more secure than regular dentures, the palate isn't covered, they snap-in and stay in without worry of falling out, if/when food gets stuck under them just snap them out to clean them and your gums real good and then snap them back in.


This factor eliminates the necessity to return to your dentist periodically to have the Fixed Implant prosthetic removed and cleaned which is quite expensive. This is probably singularly the most important factor beyond the significant cost savings of the Removable type over the Fixed type.


The cost of routine professional cleanngs is definitely a deterrent for Fixed Prosthetic patients having a cleaning procedure done by their Dentist – with the Removable type, the patient simply removes them in the privacy of their own bathroom, cleans them and brushes the Implants, and that’s it.


Generally, the Fixed Implant Retained Prosthetics are made from Porcelain fused to a milled Surgical Titanium infrastructure that is milled from a Titanium block -- this is a large reason for the more expensive cost of this style of Implant Retained/Stabilized Dental Prosthetics. The Removable version is generally made with Dental Acrylic over a cast metal infrastructure processed inside of the Acrylic. These will wear out faster and have to be replaced more often but they are much less costly both to make originally, and to replace – and they are “FREE” to clean as this is done daily by the patient at home.


Pros and Cons of the Implant Retained/Stabilized Dentures (Fixed Dental Prosthetics):


PROS

  • I cannot take them out myself (0n the issue of cleaning, this is a detrment). This allows me feel VERY safe and secure, as well as the fact that it returns some sense of normalcy to my life.

  • They are extremely stable, which makes eating an absolute breeze. Apples? Yes please!

  • They stabilize my bone. The bone integrates with the implants through a process called osseointegration. This gives the bone something to stick around for (stops accelerated bone shrinkage).

  • There is nothing covering my palate. This not only makes eating more enjoyable, but it just feels more natural.

  • I absolutely love being able smile in the mirror, inspect my teeth, and clean them without removing them. I love brushing them. It just feels nice.

  • If an emergency situation were to come up, I could get out of Dodge, rather than fumbling around looking for my teeth LOL!

CONS

  • Cleaning them can sort of slow me down at times. There are a lot of steps involved in making sure i’ve removed every trace of food under the bridges. Not being able to remove them myself, complicates and creates issues for the cleaning of the "Fixed" style of Implant Retained Dental prosthetics.

  • Speaking of which, food gets under the bridges. If the food is left too long, it can cause your gums to become irritated or even infected.

  • I’ve yet to have them cleaned professionally but it’s looming over my head…. and i’m sure it’s probably pretty expensive --- it is for sure.

  • If a problem were to arise, i’m sure that would be expensive, also as such as fixing (or replacing) a bridge or implant.

Pros and Cons of the Implant Retained/Stabilized Dentures (Removable Dental Prosthetics):


PROS

  • I don’t have to take them out until and unless I want to, but I can when need to remove them. This allows me feel VERY safe and secure, as well as the fact that it returns some sense of normalcy to my life.

  • They are extremely stable, which makes eating an absolute breeze. Apples? Yes please!

  • They stabilize my bone. The bone integrates with the implants through a process called osseointegration. This gives the bone something to stick around for (stops accelerated bone shrinkage) -- same as for the Fixed variety.

  • There is nothing covering my palate. This not only makes eating more enjoyable, but it helps with talking and singning, and just feels more natural -- same as for the Fixed variety.

  • I absolutely love being able smile in the mirror, inspect my teeth, and clean them without removing them. I love brushing them. It just feels nice.

  • If an emergency situation were to come up, I could "get out of Dodge", rather than fumbling around looking for my teeth LOL!

CONS

  • Cleaning them can sort of slow me down at times. There are a lot of steps involved in making sure i’ve removed every trace of food under the bridges.

  • Speaking of which, food gets under the bridges. If the food is left too long, it can cause your gums to become irritated or get infections around the Implants.

  • I’ve yet to have them cleaned professionally but it’s looming over my head…. and i’m sure it’s probably pretty expensive --- it is for sure.

  • If a problem were to arise, i’m sure that would be expensive, also—such as fixing (or replacing) a bridge or implant.


Summary and Conclusion:


Taking into consideration all of the factors, the recommendation of This Practice and this Dentist is the Removable IRDP (Implant Retained Dental Prosthetic): the Removable variety.

This conisders the following:

Cost: Generally 1-half to 1-third the cost of the comparable Fixed Variety.

Cleaning: Clearly, cleaning the Fixed variety is far more complex and difficult. The result of this is that cleaning is rearely accomplished ideally which leads to unpleasant orders, irritation and even infection &/or loss of the retaining Implants over time.

Function: While on a didactic analysis, the Fixed style wins on this issue, but the difference is so minor that most people cannot even recognize it -- both stay in and both allow "normal" function. This is such a minor issue, that it is nearly statistically insignificant, and this by itself does not justify spending the extra seval thousands of dollars for the fixed prosthetic.

Appearance: Again the difference is not statistically significant. People closer to you than 12 to 18 inches (generally the "comfort zone") will not be able to see or differentiate the difference.





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