The Truth about Dentures

Traditional dentures are often referred to as removable dentures, tissue-borne dentures, a full-denture plate or even false teeth. Most people refer to them simply as “dentures.” We will use the term dentures here as well.truth about dentures, tooth replacement, bridge, dental implants

This type of prosthesis must be positioned on top of the individual’s soft tissue (gums). Dentures are also “removable” by people who wear them. In fact, dentures should be removed each night and soaked in a glass of denture cleaning solution.

Traditional dentures usually don’t work out long term for several reasons. If you are considering dentures, you’ll benefit to read what follows. We’ve outlined a few common and important issues denture wearers experience.

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Denture wearers are frequently forced to limit their food choices

Unlike natural teeth and dental implants, a denture is not rigidly anchored to the jawbone. Certain foods like apples, nuts, raw vegetables and beef cause denture movement when chewing. This is particularly bad for people who suffer from conditions like diabetes, since poor nutrition can be especially damaging to their health, and these foods provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Adhesive materials like Super Poligrip® or Fixodent® will help stabilize a denture, but a major downside of this multi-tooth replacement method is that it’s heavily dependent on one’s gums for stability.

Gums do not always support dentures well while chewing certain foods. For instance, almonds (which may lower the rise in blood sugar levels by 30 percent in people with Type 2 diabetes) are too painful or difficult to eat with dentures.[1]

As a consequence, denture wearers are frequently forced to eat soft foods. An abundance of foods like pasta (carbohydrates), mashed potatoes (starch) and canned soups (high in sodium) can be bad for anyone’s health, particularly people afflicted with diabetes.truth about dentures, breakfast, difficult chewing, tooth replacement, dental implants

Unfortunately, diabetics who wear dentures find themselves relegated to these types of foods since soft foods are more tolerable.

For instance, a diet high in processed carbohydrates is generally considered harmful for people with Type 2 diabetes.[2] Blood sugar levels are elevated since the body breaks carbs down into sugar.

If you are diabetic and your denture relegates you to a diet high in carbohydrates — because you struggle with chewing an assortment of healthy foods — it may be in your best interest to consider stabilizing your denture with dental implants. A denture anchored by dental implants can relieve food choice limitations, allowing you to have a healthy diet.

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Avoiding foods high in nutritional value supports malnutrition

A 2011 study concluded that denture wearers are at a significantly greater risk of malnutrition when compared with individuals who have teeth.[3] If you wear dentures, there is a good chance you can relate to this study’s findings. Denture wearers routinely avoid nutrient-rich foods that are too difficult to chew with a denture.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, whole grains and nuts can be difficult to chew with a denture. But routine consumption of these nutrient-rich foods benefits the human body.

Table 1: Fresh fruits[4] Vitamins & minerals Nutritional benefits
Apples C, K, B, potassium, fiber May reduce risk of disease, may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, improve digestion
Mango C, soluble fiber May reduce risk of disease, may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects
Pineapple C, manganese, bromelain, antioxidants May reduce risk of cancer, anti-inflammatory effects
Table 2: Vegetables[5]
Carrots A, C, K, beta-carotene, potassium, antioxidants May reduce prostate cancer and colon cancer, may reduce lung cancer in smokers, may support healthy eyesight
Celery[6] A, K, C, beta carotene, several anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants, potassium, folate, fiber, magnesium, iron, sodium May support healthy digestive track, may reduce risk of heart disease, may support a healthy digestive system, may destroy cancer cell death
Broccoli K, C, folate, manganese, potassium, antioxidants May prevent cancer growth, may reduce risk of chronic disease, may aid in blood sugar control
Asparagus A, C, K, folate, selenium, potassium, fiber May support liver function, may reduce risk of toxicity, may improve digestion, may benefit weight loss
Table 3: Nuts & seeds[7]
Almonds E, protein, magnesium, fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats May reduce bad LDL cholesterol, may lower the rise in blood sugar, may reduce risk of breast cancer, may boost bone health
Walnuts E, omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, protein, copper, healthy fats, magnesium May reduce bad LDL cholesterol, may reduce heart disease risks and support blood pressure, reduce inflammation
Pistachios E, protein, magnesium, fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants, protein May increase good HDL cholesterol, improve heart disease risk factors, may reduce risk of cancer and other diseases, may benefit weight loss
Tables 1-3: Some nutrient-rich foods are difficult to eat with a denture.

 

Too often denture wearers sacrifice an abundance of nutritional value (and flavor) because they find it too difficult to chew foods like raw fruits and vegetables, meat and whole grains. This behavior can contribute to the development of malnutrition, particularly among mature, adult denture wearers.

Since fresh fruits are low in fat, sodium and calories and offer significant nutritional value — including potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin C — fresh fruits are generally recommended as a part of a healthy diet.[8]

So many of these fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts are dense in nutritional value and high in flavor, which is important for feeling satisfied after meals. Avoiding a large variety of healthy foods comes at a cost to denture wearers.

If your diet is adversely affected by a poorly functioning denture, at a minimum, you may benefit to consult with a registered dietitian (RD). An RD can offer you helpful hints on achieving a balanced diet in spite of your denture.

This may involve vitamin supplements, methods for juicing fresh fruits and vegetables, and using alternative sources of protein and fiber. If you need to locate an RD in your area, consider visiting the Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

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Denture wearers experience higher levels of jawbone loss and premature aging

To maintain its proper form and shape, the jawbone requires proper stimulation. You may ask, “How is stimulation to the jawbone achieved?” This process is actually quite simple.

With and without teeth - bone loss

Figure 1: Normal jawbone structure with teeth and loss of jawbone structure with no teeth.

The jawbone receives stimulation from the root of a natural tooth (or a dental implant) every time you chew food. This phenomenon contributes to the maintenance of a naturally contoured facial structure, as demonstrated in Figures 1.

When teeth are removed, vital stimulation to the jawbone stops. This is because a denture does not provide stimulation to the underlying jawbone. In fact, studies have shown that a loose denture or a denture worn at night while sleeping may speed up jawbone loss.[9] Denture wearers frequently complain of their reduced sense of taste. This is because taste sensors are covered up by the denture.

Denture wearers experience reduced taste

If you ever wondered why you can’t appreciate the taste of fine wine like you used to, it may have to do with the fact that you now wear a denture. A 2019 study reported that denture wearers sacrifice the sensation of four taste sensors including sweet, salt, sour and bitter.[10]

Sweetness and salt were the two tastes least appreciated by denture wearers. This stems from the fact that an upper denture is designed to cover the roof of the mouth, also known as the palate.

You may be wondering why an upper denture is designed to cover your palate. When the palate is covered, a suction-effect is created. This helps keep the upper denture stable but also, as mentioned, it compromises the taste buds in denture wearers. The taste sensors located in the palate of the mouth are covered and don’t come in contact with your food.

A major benefit of the TeethXpress dental implant procedure is that your palate is not covered up. This allows individuals to fully appreciate savory meals and favorite beverages.

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Dentures frequently alter speech patterns

The enunciation of certain words and phrases can trip you up if you wear a denture. Many people who wear dentures find themselves having to talk slower than normal so that they can speak clearly, as mentioned in this Super Poligrip video. Denture wearers often recognize annoying clicking and whistling in their speech.

Using a denture adhesive may help denture wearers improve the function of a denture while speaking. This is because a denture is a relatively bulky piece of acrylic material and placing it in a person’s mouth takes up a significant amount of space. This will usually affect a person’s pronunciation of several words.

Fortunately, since 2010, major denture adhesives brands like Super Poligrip no longer include poisonous levels of the zinc ingredient. Some speaking challenges can be influenced by the quality of the denture design and the craftsmanship of the dental laboratory where the denture was manufactured.

Some dental laboratories are more skilled than others. Regardless, most denture patients will experience compromised speech at least until they can overcome this limitation with practice and linguistic modification.

Dentures must be removed at night

Many people who wear dentures prefer to sleep at night with them in place for various reasons. Some people believe they sleep better with their dentures. Others are embarrassed to be with a significant-other without dentures in place when heading to bed and rising in the morning. While these habits are understandable, they are problematic for multiple reasons.

Denture in a cup

Figure 2: A denture soaking in a cleansing solution.

When an individual chooses to sleep with a denture in place at night, the denture can apply undue pressure to that individual’s gums and underlying jawbone structure while sleeping.

This undue pressure irritates the gums. It can also lead to accelerated loss of the bony ridge (jawbone) required by a denture for stability. As jawbone loss increases, denture stability decreases and becomes less effective when chewing. Jawbone loss also contributes to facial wrinkles and a premature aging appearance.

Equally important, like natural teeth, a denture requires routine and proper cleansing. Dentists recommend soaking dentures in a cleansing solution each night as seen in Figure 2. Otherwise, dentures can harbor bacteria and cause a foul odor if not properly cleaned.

Furthermore, a 2015 study determined that elderly individuals, ages 85 and older, who wear dentures to sleep at night, are at more than twice the risk of being hospitalized with pneumonia. Elderly individuals are also more likely to die prematurely when compared with elderly denture wearers who remove their denture(s) at night.[11]

If you currently wear dentures or are considering wearing dentures, expect your dentist to make recommendations consistent with what is outlined in this section. It is important to follow the professional advice on dentures offered by your dentist. Doing so will serve the best interest of your denture use and longevity, as well as your personal health.

Replacing missing teeth with dental implants may help to improve your health

Picture of Peggy's TeethXpress smile

Figure 3: Peggy, TeethXpress dental implant patient.

If your remaining teeth, bridgework or dentures are failing you, it may be a good time to consider dental implants.

People who have chosen to replace their missing teeth through the TeethXpress dental implant procedure, have virtually no limits on their food choices. In fact, it is dental implants that allows these individuals to have a healthy and nutrient-rich diet.

At age 72, several health problems and several medications had taken a toll on Peggy’s dental health. Peggy had constant dental pain and couldn’t chew properly. Her food choices were very limited. She received a full set of implant-supported replacement teeth on both top and bottom, as seen in Figure 3.

Marc's before and after TeethXpress picture

Figure 4: Marc, TeethXpress dental implant patient.

“I can eat everything I want. There are absolutely no limitations,” said Peggy. She now has secure teeth and is able to have a much more nutritious diet. Her overall health has improved. Peggy says, “My bloodwork is the best I’ve ever had.”

Figure 4 is an image of Marc, another happy dental implant recipient. In Marc’s case, at age 71 he had the uncomfortable experience of wearing a denture after having his teeth removed. “With dentures, you have to use some kind of compound to keep the teeth in,” says Marc.

It’s very common for dentures to come loose, even with denture adhesive. “[My denture] was coming loose all the time,” he said. “Food would get stuck under there and then you have to remove the false teeth.” Like Peggy, Marc’s dental implants have removed all limitations on what he can eat.

“The day I had the finals put in, my son took me out to a steak dinner. It felt so good to chew something of some consistency like that and find that I had no problem… I really enjoyed it,” said Marc. “My nutrition is definitely better, and I’m not gulping down large chunks of food.”

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References

[1] Ashley E Cohen, C. S. (2011, April 12). Almond Ingestion at Mealtime Reduces Postprandial Glycemia and Chronic Ingestion Reduces Hemoglobin A(1c) in Individuals With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Retrieved from PubMed.gov: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21489570/
[2] Joy Bauer, R. (2019, September 9). 10 Foods to Avoid When You Have Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved from Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/diet/joy-bauer-foods-to-avoid-when-you-have-diabetes/
[3] Pierre Yves Cousson, M. B.-L. (2011, April 9). Nutritional status, dietary intake and oral quality of life in elderly complete denture wearers. Gerodontology, pp. e685-e692.
[4] Brianna Elliott, R. (2016, October 3). The 20 Healthiest Fruits on the Planet. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/20-healthiest-fruits
[5] Rachael Link, M. R. (2017, May 14). The 14 Healthiest Vegetables on Earth. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-healthiest-vegetables-on-earth
[6] Jessica Timmons (reviewed by Natalie Butler, R. L. (2016, February 24). 5 Healthy Benefits of Adding Celery to Your Diet. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/health-benefits-of-celery#1
[7] Ruairi Robertson, P. (2018, September 26). The Top 9 Nuts to Eat for Better Health. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-healthy-nuts
[8] USDA. (2020, May 18). Nutrients and health benefits. Retrieved from USDA Choose My Plate: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/fruits/fruits-nutrients-health
[9] Philip Marcus, A. J. (1996, September). Complete edentulism and denture use for elders in New England. Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022391396901699?showall%3Dtrue
[10] Sarvesh Kumar, D. G. (2019). Altered taste perception among complete denture wearers. Drug Invention Today, pp. 1150-1153.
[11] Iinuma, Y. A. (2015, March). Denture Wearing during Sleep Doubles the Risk of Pneumonia in the Very Elderly. Retrieved from NCBI Resources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/