Why Denture Fit Matters
Dentures are a common full-mouth restorative solution for adults and seniors facing extensive or complete tooth loss. They are considered a simple but affordable and effective solution for an otherwise serious problem. However, many new wearers don’t realize that dentures aren’t entirely maintenance-free.
You’ll leave your dentist’s office with new dentures properly fitted to your jaw and face structure, but over time your dentures may begin to feel loose and generally less stable. Let’s discuss why this happens and five reasons why it’s imperative to have loose dentures evaluated rather than forcing yourself to wear them.
Why do previously comfortable dentures become loose?
One of the most frequently asked questions from patients is “They fit before, so why are they loose now?” There are a couple reasons denture fit can change.
Tooth loss causes the jawbone to slowly deteriorate. The jaw relies on the roots of your teeth to keep it stimulated and strong; without teeth, the body begins to resorb the bone. Dentures can’t stop this process from happening, so the eventual result is a loose denture caused by a shrinking jawbone.
Another reason dentures become loose is simple wear and tear. The average set of dentures lasts about 7 to 10 years before needing to be replaced, but some people wear down their dentures a bit quicker than others. Material quality also plays a role in how long dentures last.
How can I tell if my dentures no longer fit properly?
Telltale signs that your dentures are too loose include:
- Slipping out of place
- Rubbing sore spots on the gums
- Obvious discomfort when wearing them
- Having trouble chewing
- Noticing food debris on the inside of the denture
If you recognize any of these signs that your dentures don’t fit properly, it’s definitely time to call your dentist and book an evaluation.
What can happen from wearing poor-fitting dentures?
You might think that the embarrassment of loose dentures popping out of your mouth is the worst thing that can happen, but it isn’t. Wearing dentures that don’t fit can lead to these serious oral health problems.
1. Accelerated Jawbone Deterioration
Loss of jawbone density is often the cause of dentures becoming loose, but loose dentures can also speed up bone deterioration. This vicious cycle speeds up bone resorption and can lead to permanent damage to the jaw structure and gum tissue.
2. Malnutrition and Poor Digestion
Loose dentures make chewing difficult and uncomfortable, which leads to two complications.
First, you’re likely to simply swallow bites of food without thoroughly chewing. Chewing is the first step in healthy digestion, so when food isn’t being thoroughly chewed, it can lead to digestive upset. You might experience heartburn, acid reflux, constipation, bloating, or stomach cramping.
The second complication is malnutrition. Since chewing is difficult, it’s easy to stop eating certain foods and stick with soft foods or liquids instead. While it’s possible to eat a nutritionally complete soft-food diet, it isn’t ideal for someone who is otherwise healthy and able to eat a nutritionally varied diet. Malnutrition from missing out on important vitamins and minerals can easily occur, as well as weight loss from not getting enough calories.
3. Chronic Stomatitis
Stomatitis is an inflammatory condition characterized by swelling and painful sores or ulcers in the mouth. It’s often triggered by candida, a common fungus most of us know as yeast.
Denture stomatitis can happen when a person sleeps in their dentures, practices poor oral hygiene, smokes, or drinks alcohol in excess. However, loose dentures also trigger inflammation, and trapped food beneath the denture is a breeding ground for candida. Left untreated, denture stomatitis can cause a lot of discomfort, open sores, halitosis, and cracked skin around the mouth and lips.
4. Development of a TMJ Disorder
TMDs, or temporomandibular joint disorders, share a connection with the extended wear of dentures that don’t properly fit. The loose dentures can either physically change the alignment of your jaw, causing abnormal pressure on the joint, or encourage you to move your jaw in an abnormal motion in an effort to keep the loose dentures from shifting around.
5. Increased Risk of Oral Cancer
The most dangerous repercussion of wearing dentures that don’t fit is the increased risk of developing oral cancer. Although current studies haven’t yet found the direct link between loose dentures and oral cancer, they do support a strong connection between the two problems. Some doctors speculate that the constant irritation and subsequent chronic inflammation to the gum tissue play an integral role.
Dr. Monroe can help you get relief from your uncomfortable dentures.
Dr. Monroe and his team provide comprehensive family dental care in Greenville, South Carolina, including long-term denture care. For patients interested in an alternative to traditional dentures, Dr. Monroe also provides implant-supported denture options that provide a permanent solution for tooth loss.
Schedule a consultation at Monroe Family Dentistry today by calling our office or requesting a visit online.