I regularly see people with Painful failing teeth or Denture pain. Often patients come to us for the first time in many years since their last visit. They often have pain with chewing, social insecurity sometimes associated with wearing a denture or partial or with tooth pain or with embarrassment from the looks of their smile and the pain from retaining infected teeth.
When they have denture pain, they may come in with a ridge that looked like this initially (See the Story on Progressive Bone Loss under the patient information tab).
As the bone melted away from the pounding on the tissue by the denture, the ridge became worn down like this:
On the x-rays the bone will often be lost to the point that the ridge looks like this:
Or even a patient wearing a partial denture that looks like this, that can’t tolerate the pain of chewing foods, putting pressure on the gum tissues:
Or with a number of teeth in bad shape like this patient:
We understand these dental fears, anxieties all too well and don’t judge others because of the condition of their mouth. “We all have things we put off”! What they usually don’t understand is that modern dentistry, especially with all levels of comfort control: please see our section on sedation under patient info tab. Their tissue was never designed to take the pressure of chewing, so the bone melts away and nerves get exposed to the pressures of chewing. Typically with helping them get out of pain right away, reassurance, TLC, pre-treatment anxiety medications and sedation they see themselves and dentistry in a whole new way. You are not alone in having this problem! Dr Kammeyer used to feel this way. With the care, skill and judgment of a sharp dentist, his attitude about pain, dentistry and helping people with significant problems and/or those in pain, often using dental implants in place of teeth, became his career focus. Hence Dr Kammeyer has replaced countless dentures and partials:
A patient in pain will often have a short term focus and the energy that pain drains from them every day, drags them down (like carrying 50 extra pounds). A patient in pain will also make short term decisions only, so our answer to “I am in pain, how soon can you see me?” is “How soon can you come in?” Your memory of your dental pain and/or the pain you have associated with attempting to wear a denture or bad tooth can be tied to seeing a dentist. When you only go when it hurts you link pain to the dentist. It takes particular skill to help people in this state of mind as they often feel they will never change. Once you actually have dental visits that are pain free, then your mind CAN reset it’s viewpoint about seeing the dentist. Many of our regular patients started out just like you, with these anxieties and pain and will often say they feel differently about dentistry. They will come in just to say hi even when they don’t have a visit planned because they get the extraordinary level of compassion that our team provides and the atmosphere makes them feel comfortable. I’ve had so many come and give us gifts of love: cookies, fresh fruit, countless thank you cards, flowers that help us know we have helped them change how they feel about themselves.
This gentleman had serious financial challenges, which we helped him with and yes it is the AFTER PICTURE of the guy above!
Full Dentures are a poor substitute for natural teeth. The patients that have the most trouble adapting to dentures are those that have had teeth for years yet avoided the dentist to avoid wearing dentures.
This patient had tooth pain, couldn’t tolerate a partial denture and knew she couldn’t stand a denture. Note the multiple broken teeth and teeth that are worn through to the softer inner core of the lower front teeth:
Like Dr Kammeyer, they all saw what dentures looked like and want to avoid them. If you are used to having painful or unattractive teeth, you will be shocked at how bad wearing a denture is. Studies show: dentures and partials chew 10-15% as well as natural teeth or implanted teeth. 29% of denture wearers chew only soft or mashed foods, at a time in their lives when they want to eat like this:
Dentures are a relic, held over to this day, because it is what dentists have to learn in dental school, to learn proper tooth position. Learning how to make an acceptable denture is still mandatory in dental school. Don’t get me wrong, some people think dentures are great as they are more simple, faster and cheaper than dental implants. You do get what you pay for with this choice AND if you don’t deal with the problems well NOW then they will slowly and surely get worse. I see it daily in our practice.
The other challenge for a modern day dentist, that regularly, daily/weekly treats patients needing dental implants, they have had to learn those skills AFTER dental school, in continuing education. My hat is off to general dentists, as they are asked to do so many different procedures in a world where the techniques we use today will be out of date in 3-5 years!! The amount of continuing education required of an “up to date” dentist, is staggering: Fillings, prevention, cleanings, lasers, x-rays, crowns, root canals, gum treatments etc.
As a dentist that has placed implants for 28 years, ALL of my implant training came AFTER dental school. My CV is under the Meet US tab if you are interested. I was a general dentist and made countless dentures. For some people it is still the best solution. For millions of others, dental implants have changed the quality of their lives. And Yes, all the above patients had immediate teeth, (See immediate loading/teeth in a day section under procedures tab)
In summary, the problems with dentures are:
- Bone loss is progressive
- Replacing bone may increase amount of treatment, time and cost
- Gum tissue is lost under the denture
- Upper dentures cover taste buds and decrease the tastes of food
- Lower dentures move greatly and are often the more bothersome of the upper and lower
- Patients facial appearances make them look older than they are
- Patients chew poorly with dentures compared to teeth or implants
- People often avoid many social situations that might cause denture embarrassment
- Patient’s choose fewer healthy foods because of the problems with their dentures
- All at the time in their life when they planned on living the good life, being healthy, socializing and eating what they want
The advantages of dental implants are:
- They help improve digestion
- Improve self esteem
- Improves the life-span of remaining teeth
- Adds to the quality of a person’s life
- Makes it easier to eat, talk and laugh with confidence
- Increases the variety of foods eaten
- Stimulates and retains the bone
- Regains lost function compared to dentures, bridges and partial dentures
- 93-97% of patients say they would do it again
- Patients routinely encourage their friends and family to have dental implants
- Say it was worth the cost, time and effort and often say “I wish I had done this sooner”