The dilemma with dentures – Mr. Matthieu – TBR Marketing Product ManagerFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 27th January 2019
Tooth loss is often associated with advanced age, but as most dentists know, elderly patients are not the only ones to suffer. The condition can affect anyone of any age, as George Washington proved when he began losing teeth in his early 20s as a result of illness, an unhealthy diet, and poor dental hygiene. Unsurprisingly, he was embarrassed by the state of his teeth, so much so that he kept it a closely guarded secret and entrusted a French dentist to help restore oral function through the use of dentures.[i]Washington’s troubles with tooth loss are not too dissimilar to the challenges that some young edentate patients face today, who may have lost teeth – not necessarily through neglect – but as a result of other reasons such as birth defects or dental trauma.
For many of these patients, partial or complete removable dentures remain the most accessible solution to restoring missing teeth. People are able to eat, speak, and smile normally, and advances in treatment have meant that it is nearly impossible to tell if someone is wearing dentures. However, despite these advantages, there is still a social stigma surrounding their use – especially in younger patients, who may remember their grandparents having to take dentures out of their mouth to adjust them, or put them in a glass of water overnight. Understandably, these are not the images that most young patients want to be associated with and for some, having to adjust to wearing dentures is a difficult and humiliating process that can exacerbate their insecurities.
Ill-fitting solutions often add to frustrations, as they can be uncomfortable to wear and can fall out while talking or chewing. If the denture consistently rubs against the patient’s gums, it can cause sore spots which could become infected if left untreated.[ii]Similarly to natural teeth, dentures must be cleaned regularly to remove trapped food and prevent the build up of bacterial plaque, which increases the risk of periodontal disease.[iii]Although well-made appliances are very durable and meticulous care can extend their life, dentures will need to be replaced every few years, particularly if they become loose and show signs of significant wear.
Besides these issues, some denture wearers have to contend with more serious complications. Patients with partial dentures, for example, risk the adjacent natural teeth gradually weakening in an effort to support the appliance. Bone resorption is also a major concern that immediately occurs in the jawbone following tooth extraction, as dentures are unable to stimulate the bone in the same way a natural tooth would. Within just a few months of wearing a denture, a patient’s jawbone structure will have drastically deteriorated.[iv]Over time, patients will begin to notice that their denture does not fit or function as well as it did when it was first fitted. Bone loss can eventually become so severe that some patients are unable to retain a denture and many of their facial features can sink, making them appear older.
This can detrimentally impact an individual’s self-confidence and overall quality of life, especially as many young patients place great importance on their appearance. Thankfully, modern dental implants can offer an effective solution to tooth loss victims, reducing the risk of problems traditionally associated with denture appliances. For instance, bone resorption can be minimised, as implants are designed to imitate the function of a natural tooth, stimulating the jawbone to ensure long-term stability of the implant component and prosthesis. In the event of successful osseointegration, implants have the potential to last a lifetime, so long as patients follow a consistent maintenance programme. This includes good at-home oral care and regular visits to the dentist for examinations and professional cleanings.
Although dental implants can be more costly and require surgery to be placed, they can offer visually superior results to dentures. In fact, the most effective implant systems deliver excellent function and are indistinguishable from the adjacent natural teeth. TBR’s Z1 implant system, for example, can be placed in both posterior and anterior regions. It combines the biocompatible properties of titanium and zirconia in one seamless component, which is clinically proven to radically reduce bacterial colonisation. This protects both the crestal bone and the gingiva from the risk of iatrogenic inflammation or infection, thereby encouraging the tissue to heal around the implant in a way that mimics natural gingival growth.[v]Consequently, patients are able to achieve a highly aesthetic and functional outcome that surpasses that of conventional dentures.
Although they will continue to be an essential part of clinical practice, dentures may not always deliver the most desirable results to partially or completely edentulous patients looking for a more comfortable and permanent solution. Dental implants could be the answer in this case, but it is important for practitioners to utilise tried-and-tested products that will ensure patients are able to smile with confidence for many years to come.
[i]Mount Vernon. (2018) The Trouble with Teeth. Link: https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-man-the-myth/the-trouble-with-teeth/. [Last accessed: 11.09.18].
[ii]Ellakwa, A. (2012) Damage Caused by Removable Partial Dentures: Reality? Dentistry 1: e107. doi: 10.4172/2161-1122.1000e107.
[iii]Dula, L. J., Shala, K. S., Pustina-Krasniqi, T., Bicaj, T. and Ahmedi, E. F. (2015) The influence of removable partial dentures on the periodontal health of abutment and non-abutment teeth. European Journal of Dentistry. 9(3): 382-386. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4569990/. [Last accessed: 11.09.18].
[iv]Knezović-Zlatarić, D., Čelebić, A. and Lazić, B. (2002) Resorptive Changes of Maxillary and Mandibular Bone Structures in Removable Denture Wearers. Acta Stomat Croat. 261-265. Link: https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/6144. [Last accessed: 11.09.18].
[v]Bianchi, A. E., Bosetti, M., Dolci, G. Jr., Sberna, M. T., Sanfilippo, S. and Cannas, M. (2004) In vitro and in vivo follow-up of titanium transmucosal implants with a zirconia collar. Journal of Applied Biomaterials and Functional Materials. 2(3): 143-150. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20803431. [Last accessed: 11.09.18].
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