Have you ever wondered why there are so many advertisements for denture adhesives? The answer is simple: most dentures simply do not fit well enough for everyday comfort. There are several reasons. Some dentures are probably “worn out”, yet many never fit that well from day one. Denture wearers suffer greatly, because even a “good” denture is a poor substitute for natural teeth.
For dentistry in general, the making of dentures is fast becoming a lost art. In fact, most dentists do not really like to make dentures because the results are so unpredictable. To make a quality denture takes much time and more expense than the typical economy denture made by the economy denture specialists. Many patients choose to experiment with these economy techniques because the cost savings are tempting, but they end up with a drawer full of ill fitting mistakes and a bathroom cabinet full of denture adhesives. Decreased demand, scarcity of good lab support, and constantly decreasing insurance reimbursement, has driven the denture patient from the traditional dental office. There is however good news in that there are two alternatives to this dilemma.
Neuromuscular/Functional Dentures: Several years ago, we obtained training and technology (termed neuromuscular) in order to better treat TMJ problems. We have been very successful in this area of dentistry because of this training and technology, but we discovered additional big benefits in using this same technology for dentures. The basis of neuromuscular treatment lies in achieving and maintaining optimum muscle relaxation and function. This is important in dentures in that this directly relates to the fit and appearance of dentures.
In terms of the fit, because the dentures rest partially on muscles, if you can achieve stable and relaxed muscles, you automatically get a better fit. Additionally, you want to build the bite at the position where the muscles will best function. This coincides with the same position that provides the greatest facial support. In other words the dentures that function best also look best. You have all seen a person’s face “sink in” when they remove their dentures. A little amount of this “sunken in” look exists in dentures if they are not made to optimum neuromuscular dimensions. If time is taken to properly determine and capture all of these considerations in the new dentures, the patient will look better and feel better also. I have personally made dentures for patients who looked 20 years younger when we were finished, and they could function normally again! This process does take an average of four visits and is much more expensive than the economy version, but when you consider that the patient can function so much better and looks so much better/younger, it is truly the “fountain of youth” for denture wearers.
Dental Implants: Implants are not a new technique, but have improved greatly in recent memory. The procedure involves surgically placing a fixture in the jaw (bone) to which teeth are attached. If you have the correct available structure, and place enough implants, it is possible to eliminate dentures (by replacing them with the new teeth which are attached to the implants). If you want solid/non-removable teeth again, then implants are the best option. It is a very complex and time consuming option, and not for everyone, but certainly an option worth investigating.
There are many changes occurring within dentistry today relating to technique and technology. I believe that many new standards for dentistry are presently being set through neuromuscular techniques. I am an instructor at the world center for these techniques (The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Training), and based on what I have learned and what is soon to come, dentistry will have an amazing array of new and improved services to offer in the near future. I am excited to bring them to Bluffton especially those related to neuromuscular dentures.