Leisure Suits & Dental Fit: Choosing High-Quality Dentures for Comfort and Function

Home » Dentures » Leisure Suits & Dental Fit: Choosing High-Quality Dentures for Comfort and Function
well-dressed man adjusting his tie and smiling confidently because of his high-quality dentures

Acid-washed jeans, polyester leisure suits, plastic ‘jelly’ shoes, and denim cargo shorts— all fashion trends that have gone into extinction, much to my relief before the era of smartphones and social media. As a result, you won’t find photographic evidence of me in those outdated fashions of yesteryear, unless you’re privy to my mother’s living room wall.

Fortunately, what is considered fashionable for teeth hasn’t changed much with each passing decade; most people are looking for a gap-free, straight, bright white smile.

While fashion trends may come and go, trends in dental aesthetics have remained relatively stable over the decades. timeless look, most people today still seek a smile that is gap-free, straight, and bright white.

I like to think of myself as the dental version of one of those TLC makeover shows. And just like the hosts (minus the British accent), I have a lot of opinions about what makes for a functional and great looking set of dentures – but that’s also because I’ve seen patients who have hung onto their decades old dentures explaining that they’re comfortable, like an old pair of jeans. The problem is, just like old comfy clothes, they can look really worn out and are definitely not performing their primary function, which is not good for something used/worn every single day.

Prosthodontics is the perfect marriage of art and science. It is really easy to make a bad denture, but it requires a lot of planning and effort to make a good one. Fashion experts urge you to have a little black dress or a good quality pair of jeans in your closet. I urge you to make the investment in custom-designed, high-quality dentures made from high-quality materials.

There are several reasons to invest in high-quality dentures, and my goal is to education patients so they can make an informed decision on what specifically works for their individual mouth both in terms of functional needs and from an aesthetic perspective.

Ultimately, it is the person who is wearing them that needs to feel good.

Denture Fit, Form, & Function

Comfort is probably the most important justification people give for remaining faithful to their old denture (as well as the old t-shirt that’s definitely seen better days). If it’s comfortable, what’s the problem? Keep that old t-shirt, but your dentures should fulfill all the functions that natural teeth perform, which includes eating, speaking, and supporting the lower third of your face. Unfortunately, many dentures don’t achieve one – let alone all three – of those things.

Mrs. Doubtfire's denture scene

If your current denture isn’t allowing you to enjoy all the foods you used to eat (hello, medium-rare Porterhouse steak), there’s a good chance that your diet is neither balanced or healthy. When you can’t eat raw fruits and vegetables, you are limited to those ready made foods which tend to be heavily processed and higher in fat, salt, and sugar.

Furthermore, because digestion begins in the mouth, if food is not properly broken down by the time it hits the digestive tract, it can cause an even bigger social (flatulence) faux pas than having your poorly fitting teeth all out in the middle of a dinner party.

As a dentist, I can tell you, the most common reason dentures don’t stay in place is because of poor fit. Maybe the provider didn’t take all of the necessary impressions (including ‘bite’), or perhaps, if it’s one of those economy dentures, the cheapest materials and manufacturing techniques were used to cover the cost – at the cost of your fit and comfort.

The bad news is that those cheaper, poorly fitting dentures can put the jaw into an uncomfortable position, causing pain, headaches, and other problems.

A lot of the off-the-shelf, economy style dentures are notoriously insecure and can come loose when speaking, laughing, or sneezing. Because complete upper dentures are largely held in place through suction (which is maintained by having a good seal against the gum), the fit has to be perfect. However, suction is also a  pretty weak force because it depends upon surface area for strength.

The functional flaw that comes with having a bigger surface area (besides the bulk), is that it compromises the ability to taste food when the palate is covered. Fortunately, denture technology and materials have come a long, long way.

Play Up Your Assets, Don’t Flatter The Flaws

Dentures that don’t properly balance the biting forces in your mouth can cause big time bone loss. And as much as the initial changes can be disruptive, the long-term ones are even more significant, and these effects are cumulative.

the mask jaw dropping scene

If you are missing teeth and don’t wear dentures at a young age, or if you have poorly fitting ones, your jaw position is likely to get more distorted over time. There may also be functional problems in how you speak, chew, and even breathe.

If your dentures are causing discomfort to the gums, chances are, they will be doing the same thing to the jaw joint. As this joint shrinks over time, it can cause both cheeks and lips to sink inward. A very obvious indication that this is happening for women, is noticing lipstick on the denture after eating. Saliva and food may also dribble out, which can start to cause dry lips. And finally, because of the changing physics of the jaw bone structure, teeth can start delivering the equivalent of a thousand  ‘paper cuts’ to the lips. 

The presence of teeth and a strong, healthy jaw bone provides support to the entire face.

An improperly fitting denture can actually cause wrinkles around the eyes and the “lipstick” frown lines turn into deep furrows like a marionette puppet. Conversely, an overly bulky denture can cause the lips and cheeks to puff out, giving the illusion of weight gain.

Ideally, a high-quality, custom-designed denture should be slimming and literally serve as a non-surgical cosmetic lift to the entire face.

Are Your Dentures Like Costume Teeth?

Halloween costume teeth are supposed to look fake. Unfortunately, the same can often be said for many economy brand dentures. However, while costume teeth must be removed to eat, if you find yourself doing the same with your dentures, then you definitely need better ones. Seriously.

silly dentures on a dog

The truth is, many of the economy dentures are made like costume teeth; off the shelf, cookie cutter molded plastic prosthetics, that just fit into the mouth. Who actually wants to look like Herman Munster, year round?

Many of those one-size-fits-all dentures also come with the teeth pre-installed, which means they’re a generic set of teeth that everybody gets. They look square and white and big and fake. Like chiclets.

If you’re lucky, you might get to choose which set of teeth you like from a limited selection of pre-made teeth to choose from. However, one of the main drawbacks is that these artificial teeth often have a very smooth surface, causing them to reflect light differently than natural teeth – which can make them look really bogus (even if you can’t quite place what is “off” about the look).

Gums are another thing I’ve seen on dentures that can look pretty cheesy if they’re not done well. It isn’t just materials where many denture manufacturers skimp on the base, it’s also craftsmanship. Most dentures are made with a very simple base (usually in a limited number of uniform colors) like a plastic toy, which is not the way natural tissue looks.

With some economy dentures, the gum tissue around the teeth isn’t very dense (the use of less dense acrylic is typically a cost saving measure), making the gums translucent. As a result, the teeth in the gums can actually show through. This gives the appearance that teeth continue far below the gum line, which makes you look like you have receding gums (a hallmark of gum disease). Having denture teeth that look unhealthy kind of defeats the purpose, right?

How Do Your Dentures Make You Feel?

I see it with my patients all the time; not wearing dentures can make it harder to overcome some of the emotional difficulties that are part of tooth loss, which then means feeling less inclined to participate in social activities when you’re self-conscious about missing teeth.

anxious woman holding a glass with her dentures in it above a confident man adjust his tie and smiling with high-quality dentures

You might not think that your dentures have anything to do with the ability to maintain an active lifestyle, but the truth is that your jaw is an essential stabilizer for the body. Research has shown that wearing dentures can improve quality of life in general and help people remain active as they age.

Think about it; who wants to leave the house without teeth? This is especially relevant for people who are at the younger end of retirement, of course it’s going to help maintain a longer lifespan; being a reclusive shut-in, is just not good for anyone’s health.

Teeth are essential for speech and mastication (chewing), as well as providing structural support to the muscles in your face.

Edentulism, the absence of natural dentition (teeth) is devastating both aesthetically and emotionally, because it impacts you socially. When the dignity, appearance and self-esteem of those who have lost their teeth is severely compromised, the combination of a skilled clinician, better materials, and digital technology can offer a much better result.

We think you should feel like a winner when you wear your dentures!

And if you don’t, perhaps it’s time to consider getting new, high-quality ones. Expert advice can help. Give our office a call at (207) 782-5308 to schedule an appointment with me so I can help put a smile back on your face.

peter's signature

Related Posts:

  • “Come on, it’ll be FUN!” Our #MannequinChallenge

    “Come on, it’ll be FUN!” Our #MannequinChallenge

    For those of you who may not be familiar with the Mannequin Challenge, and perhaps wondered if your favorite dental office had lost their minds when we posted a video of the team holding various crazy poses last week, allow me to share a little background. The Mannequin Challenge (#Mannequin Challenge) is a viral internet…

    Read more

  • “How Much is a Crown Going To Cost?”

    “How Much is a Crown Going To Cost?”

    My wife was at the hairdresser last week and overheard a conversation in the next chair between a stylist and client who was lamenting her self-diagnosed ‘soft teeth.’ She stated how unfair it was that her husband did not have the same affliction and, even worse, that there was nothing she could do about it…

    Read more