At NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry, we make quite a few new sets of dentures for our patients. While a well-made denture can certainly last for many years, eventually dentures do wear out and have to be remade. One of the most common questions that I get asked is “when is it time for a new set of dentures?” About half the time, it is obvious that a new denture needs to be made such as when a denture is broken and unwearable or has holes in it. I want to discuss though the other half of the time when it isn’t so obvious. The three ways that I determine whether or not to make a new denture are by evaluating the fit, checking the bite, and discussing it with the patient.
The fit is probably the easiest way to evaluate how a denture is doing. Dentures rely on the gums and bone under the gums for support. On patients with large gums and ridges, I’d generally expect a good suction on the top denture. With the bottom denture or an upper denture with not much bone support, I would expect little to no rocking if you were to press down on the back teeth of the denture. The biggest problem that I do come across is with people who use adhesive to fill in large gaps between the denture and the gums. I’ve had some patients that use one or two small bottles of adhesive a day. While the dentures are certainly snug, my concern is that chewing forces are not evenly distributed in the mouth which can cause the bone to be lost quicker. I also find that these dentures usually are not as comfortable with this much adhesive as a well-fitting pair would be as they tend to pinch the gums in certain spots.
The bite is a harder problem to detect in a set of older dentures. Generally, this is not a problem in a person who has a complete upper and lower plate unless the fit is poor which as I described above as easier to determine. In most well used upper/lower full plate patients, I will generally see well-worn grooves in the teeth which can tell me how the person chews with the denture. I see the bite problem more often in my patients with partial dentures as patients have difficulty chewing real teeth against denture teeth. While overall, chewing is usually easier with partials compared to complete dentures, the partial rarely feels as comfortable as the natural teeth to chewing which can be frustrating for first time partial wearers. Also when a patient has a lower partial against an upper complete denture, I find that usually the natural remaining teeth will wear through the denture much faster than the denture teeth wear through themselves. As the upper denture wears unevenly, the bite changes which can make the prosthetic difficult to wear. As these dentures wear, generally the face starts to sink in
Finally, I think the most important part of deciding when to remake a denture is the patient themselves. The way that I evaluate whether or not a person should get a new denture is by asking the simple question “what do you (the patient) think can be improved by making a new denture?” If I can’t improve anything, I’d rather not make a new denture. I’ve had some patients that have beaten up their dentures so much that I’m surprised they still fit, but as the patients still like the dentures, I don’t recommend making a new denture. I’ve gladly remade other dentures for patients who only wanted whiter teeth on their denture despite it being in great shape and fitting well. The reason I feel strongly in letting the patient decide the treatment is that ultimately they are the ones wearing this as well as it’s their smile and they know what they want. Making a new set of dentures does change how your smile and your face will look and that is often a very personal decision that needs to be made by the patient.
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If you have an older denture and you are questioning whether or not to have a new one made, I hope that this blog post has given you some ways to evaluate what you have right now. Making a new denture is a wonderful plan for many patients as dentures do wear out. If you have any questions about whether or not you could benefit from new dentures, please give us a call and we will do our best to help you out.