"Mama, mama does that lady have false teeth?" Out of the mouths of babes. This is a recent comment from my 4 year old, she is definitely a denturist's daughter.
Any time you pick up a copy of People magazine, or switch on one of those Real Housewives shows, it's pretty interesting to see how celebrities who have plastic surgery (whether it's on their body or on their face), all start to look alike. It kind of makes sense. We all have the same number of bones in our skeletons.
Obviously, you cant tell the difference between two human skulls, so if you stretch the skin over someone's face enough, eventually people are going to start looking like the same pre-packaged human version of a McDonald's Happy Meal.
Even for the layperson, it's sometimes easy to spot who's "had work done", or who is wearing a poorly fitting denture. And apparently, no eyes are more keen, or critical, than those of a four year old.
Keeping It All Together
Let me back up to the science behind the face (and smile) for a minute . . .
Your face is a set of points and measurements between features, so when it comes to a person's facial structure, which includes your teeth, supporting jaw bone, cheeks, lips and tongue, there is an optimal sweet spot called the "functional zone."
Your lips and cheeks basically act like a rubber band in the front, holding your teeth back from going all Bugs Bunny, while your tongue presses up against them from behind when talking, chewing or just resting. This point at which everything is being supported, and there are no forces pushing forward or backward is where your mouth's neutral zone is. Think of it like having clutch control on a manual transmission car, the 'bite point' is where you don't slide back down the hill or accelerate off into the bumper in front of you.
This is actually also a huge factor in orthodontics - if it's not done correctly. Teeth can be moved into place, but if they have nothing to 'butt up against' they are going to shift as soon as the braces comes off.
Goldilocks and The Three Dentures?
A denture that is too big, will make someone look like a hamster with a mouth full of food. On the other hand, no teeth, or a denture that is too small, will have the opposite effect where your entire face starts to sink in, or, as my 4 year old says, you develop a 'mouth that looks like a butt.' I really don't know where she comes up with this stuff!
Okay, that's a cartoon representation of a cat with huge teeth and a woman with no teeth, but it can actually be pretty easy to spot someone who is wearing dentures. And I'm not talking about the perfectly straight, white smile that this cat has - or that makes a person look like a weatherman or a TV evangelist.
You really shouldn't be able to tell the difference between someone with teeth and a person wearing good fitting dentures. Ironically though, well made dentures can give a person a non-surgical 'face lift'. Dentures that are too small, or no longer fit because of age and bone loss, can have the opposite effect of a face lift, more like a face drop (or droop).
So how can you tell what someone does (or does not) have in their mouth? Some people have cheeks that cave in, an unsupported upper lip that also folds inward (which creates additional 'smoker's wrinkles' around the mouth as well as 'nutcracker lines' down to the chin), crow's feet around the corners of the mouth, a crease that is parallel to the lower lip (labiomental crease), and parenthesis lines (nasolabial folds) around the mouth as a result of the cheek pads drooping because of gravity and/or the rising of the chin due to tooth/bone loss.
It's a very distinctive "look" and you will soon be able to identify the ill fitting denture crowd like a pro.
So Now What?
There is a lot of science and engineering that goes into making a denture, especially when you want to make sure that everything is in the optimum functional zone. Obviously, your muscles aren't static, they change position depending on whether you're biting into a doughnut, tearing off a chunk of beef jerky, shouting at the driver in front of you who is obviously daydreaming at the green light, or trying to hold an awkward smile to get through a family photo shoot. Correct measurements and an analysis of your jaw are all an essential part of the preparation when I am making a denture. In fact, we're having an event to talk about how all that magic happens here at Drews Dental and I'd like to personally invite you to come eat doughnuts and learn a bit about what I do.
If you would like to learn more about how we fabricate dentures, and how I get a denture dialed in to your optimum functional zone so that you don't get "denture face," join us this Saturday, right here in the office at 471 Sabattus Street. We'll be providing doughnuts, a plethora of information, and answering any questions you have about dentures. Spots are limited, so call 782-5308 to reserve yours now.
And stay tuned for another blog post from me where I will explain how we use our cool digital technology to get your dentures dialed in to your optimum functional zone!
Dentures should feel good, be functional, and look natural - and I'm here to help.