Dentures are not nearly the same as natural teeth
Patients often say things like “oh, I wish you could just pull my teeth and give me dentures,” or something similar. Usually the people saying this need extensive (and expensive) dental work, and they figure that dentures are an easy fix. After all, dentures seem like a no-brainer, right? No cavities, no root canals, no bridges, etc. No expense of going to the dentist every six months, no insurance worries when your dentist tells you that a root canal and crown are needed, etc.
Essentially, the people thinking the above are looking for a “tooth do-over.” They want the reset button hit, and to start over again with teeth that do not need dental work. Truth be told, it really doesn’t work that way.
Steak or Oatmeal – The Best Bite Force is Natural
There is no perfect substitute for your natural teeth. Bridges and implants come the closest (by a wide margin, really). But given a choice, a mouthful of healthy natural teeth is preferable to even implants. And your natural, healthy teeth are far (and I mean really far) superior to dentures. Dentures, in my opinion, should be seen as a last resort.
The biggest difference between natural teeth and dentures is bite force. With your natural teeth it is somewhere around 200-250 pounds of force. Some a little less, some a little more, but that’s the sweet spot. With dentures, your bite force is about 50 pounds of force. That’s a significant drop off. That’s the difference between eating a steak, and eating oatmeal. Do you like oatmeal? For dinner?
The Science Behind the Bite
The reason for this disparity is your natural teeth are set solidly in your jawbone. Rigid and strong, they handle chewing food with astonishing efficiency. Dentures, on the other hand, rest against your gums. They can be “fixed” all you want with gels and the like, but the fact is, it’s not a strong base. There’s just “nothing” behind your bite, so to say. Especially on your bottom teeth, where the denture is largely held in place by gravity and your mouth muscles.
Upper dentures can be fixed with a plate that uses suction on your upper palate to stay in place. It doesn’t sound all that strong, because it’s not. More often than not, denture wearers report that their dentures end up “flopping around a lot”. It’s why dentures should be a last resort.
Additionally, there are taste buds on your upper palate (the roof of your mouth). Upper dentures cover these, which means your sense of taste is going to be markedly diminished. Add in the adhesive, and well, eating starts to lose its luster.
What the Ads Don’t Show
Television commercials advertising adhesives that hold dentures in place show deliriously happy people eating corn on the cob and the like. What they don’t show is the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to eat that ear of corn. Yes, the adhesives work to a degree. But you still only bite with about one-fourth of the pressure you could have with real teeth. And that steak we mentioned earlier? Well, I hope you don’t mind still eating it while everyone else is on dessert.
When There’s No Other Choice, Dentures are Life-Enhancing
Unfortunately, for some people, there really is no other choice. Dentures are associated with older people, and in my mind, that’s really the only people who should be using them. Today’s longer lifespans sometimes mean that even the best cared for teeth can be lost. Dentures can be a life-enhancing asset in that case. But replacing a mouthful of healthy teeth with dentures? No way, no how.
The drawbacks of dentures are not worth avoiding root canals and the like. Yes, dental work can be a pain and can be expensive at times. However, that should not deter you. Many dentists have payment plans, they take credit cards, there is secondary insurance, etc. There are few things as important as your natural teeth. They are worth the investment.
SOURCE: Huffington Post