If you have dentures, you may think that they should last forever.
The truth is, your face, jaw, and gums change over the years, but your prosthesis does not. Your dentures are made of a rigid material and can’t adapt to these physical changes.
In this article, let’s explore some issues that indicate it may be time to replace your dentures.
Will My Front Teeth Look Big?
I thought of this question as I met a new patient this week.
He had a set of dentures that were on their last legs. They had broken over the years and had a number of repairs to try and patch them together.
None of that phased me as I see that sort of thing a lot.
What made an impression on me was how much of his tooth showed when he smiled. The upper front teeth were enormous.
First of all the teeth were very long.
Secondly, when he smiled, the entire tooth was visible as well as a fair amount of pink denture base above the teeth.
This gentleman was in his 60’s, and that look was not at all natural.
We sometimes see that in a very young patient but time takes its toll on the height of teeth.
Dentures or crowns should look natural
Dentures or crowns on front teeth should reflect a natural look on a person.
They should be in consonance with their facial features and general appearance.
A person’s chronological age will affect the size of his teeth. Denture teeth that were made when someone was in their 40’s do not look natural for someone who is twenty or thirty years older.
Front teeth have definite shapes and sizes to create a “natural smile.” They are not all the same length..they are not all the same width..and of course, they are not bright white.
All of that just spells phony when one looks at it.
The makeup of a ‘natural’ smile
I strive to have a natural and comfortable look on the dentures that we make. The very front teeth are the largest and widest of the upper six teeth. They are taller than the tooth that is next to them and definitely wider than that tooth. They do not all line up in a row. The four front teeth as a group are relatively flat looking, whereas the cuspid, or “eye tooth” has a large mid-section. These subtle difference make our smiles look, for lack of a better
word, natural and pleasing.
When you need to replace your dentures
Dentures, like anything else, can be made to last for a long time. However, the larger question is whether or not they should be used for a long time.
First of all, a denture is porous and absorbs odors and bacteria to the point of saturation. This creates a very unsanitary situation in the mouth.
Second of all, the colors and size of teeth change as we get older. Bright white and large teeth are not appropriate for someone as they advance through middle age.
These are reasons that I recommend that your dentures be remade every 5-7 years.
This way our denture stays “in style”.
Just as our faces and bodies change, our artificial teeth should adapt and change. After all, this is the same thing that happens to people with natural teeth. They change in shape and color.
Customized dentures for each patient
During the denture making process in our office, we spend a lot of time getting the front teeth to look appropriate for that particular person.
Many times we use computers to aid us in picking the best size for our mouths.
These teeth are always viewed by the patient and me when the teeth are in wax. This allows me to move the teeth in any direction at will. We may move them up, or push them down, allowing us to see more or less of our teeth.
To create a natural appearance, I may recommend turning a tooth ever so slightly. I may suggest a small space between certain teeth.
All of this is done to duplicate the works of what we often call nature.
It is essential to see how the curve of the edges of your teeth looks against your upper and lower lip.
Do we have a harmonious smile line (a tracing of the teeth edges) or does it look out of place?
I compare pictures of your old teeth and try to make a change for the better, in a very subtle fashion. I use digital photos and videos to
help the patient see themselves as the rest of the world sees them.
The science and art of denture making
Denture making is a science blended into an art. It can’t be rushed and shouldn’t be hurried. After all, you will be wearing these dentures for years.
The least that should be done is spending an appropriate amount of time creating them.
If you think that it is time to make the move to a denture or to update your current denture, please call me. I will listen to you and do my best to help you.
I can be reached at 440.951.7856. Looking forward to meeting you.
Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.