Denture wearers have a ten-fold decrease in their ability to chew their food. Because of this tremendous difference in masticatory function, their overall nutrition is significantly affected. The first part of the digestive process begins to take place in the mouth, when certain enzymes are secreted during the chewing process. When the chewing process is shortened or incomplete we lose part of the important enzymatic activity necessary to break down our food into usable nutrients.
This incomplete chewing also may have deleterious effects on the patients stomach and lower digestive tract. Once food enters the stomach and intestine, our body now has to work harder to try and breakdown and extract the important nutrients from poorly chewed food. Many times we see patients developing gastrointestinal problems like gastric reflux, bloating and generalized abdominal discomfort. But even more importantly, it affects all the systems in your body by decreasing your overall nutrition.
Subsequently, because of the chewing problems, denture wearers slowly begin to change their diet, generally switching to more refined and less nutritious foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are much harder to chew than foods higher in carbohydrates and sugars. This switch in diet can lead to many health problems. It has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and type II diabetes.
Another big problem is the total collapse of the jaw bones. This becomes very noticeable after just a few years of wearing dentures. Once the teeth are removed and the bone loses the support of the root, the bone will begin to shrink for the rest of the patients life. Not only do you lose support for the dentures but the whole facial structure slowly begins to cave in. Consequently, this physical change can also cause social and psychological problems as well.
THE GOOD NEWS
Modern implant dentistry can restore patients back to their original comfort, function health and esthetics. I have personally been involved with implant dentistry for the past 30 years and have had the great pleasure of helping to improve the quality of life for hundreds of denture wearers.
We are able to significantly help people regain their health and confidence and put a stop to the devastating effects of bone loss. We are able to treat people at any stage of bone loss, but certainly the sooner the better. Once we place implants and stabilize the forces in the mouth the bone will also stabilize. There are a variety of procedures available to patients including snap-on, screwed-in or cemented teeth.
The treatment times can vary from getting everything done quickly — teeth in a day — up to a few years of treatment. This will depend on the amount of bone destruction and the level of sophistication that the patient demands. Whatever the treatment time is the patient never has to be without teeth. We are also able to handle all levels of patient anxiety from just local anesthetic to IV sedation.
In this day and age there is no reason for people to suffer through the terrible effects of tooth loss. I have seen and treated hundreds of patients, and I stand by my quote that “dentures are hazardous to your health.”