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How Far Back Should Dentures Go?

I had to get lower dentures. They don’t cover my wisdom tooth area, which means I am pretty much just chewing on my gums. My dentist said this is normal, but it is very uncomfortable. Is there anything to do about it?


Dear Stan,


This is not normal and something your dentist could have prevented. The dentures should not only cover the wisdom tooth area, but go a little past it to what is called the retromolar pad. You don’t want the entire pad covered because that will interfere with any upper dentures you may have. That is the only limitation, however.

The solution, unfortunately, is to completely redo the denture. If you have already paid for it, then your dentist won’t have much incentive to replace it, unless he has a high sense of ethics. You could try showing your dentist this blog post and see if this helps. Before you do that, though, I want to make certain you understand the risks of completely removable dentures, especially lower dentures.

The Down Side of Dentures

Before and after facial collapse.
Before and after the side effects of facial collapse.

When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes that there are no longer any roots of your teeth in your jawbone that need to be supported. In an effort to be efficient with your body’s resources, it immediately begins to resorb the minerals in your jawbone in order to use them elsewhere. While a great way to handle your body’s resources, it has the unfortunate side effect of shrinking your jawbone. After ten or so years, you will no longer have enough of your lower jawbone to retain your dentures. In dental circles, this is known as facial collapse.

The solution to this is to have dental implants placed and secure your dentures to them. Some people call this implant overdentures. The dental implants serve as prosthetic teeth roots. Because you have “roots,” your body will preserve the minerals there in order to support the teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

Can These Dentures Be Salvaged?

I have complete dentures made and I am happy with how they look and feel. I seem to have an allergy to them though. When I started wearing them, the allergy symptoms began pretty much right away. The first day I had swollen glands and swelling/irritation of the eyes. By the second day, I felt sick. On the third day my throat stated swelling and I had a bit of difficulty breathing. I took some benadryl and that helped a little. I waited a bit and then tried again with the same results only it got worse more quickly than before. I really like these dentures so wasn’t quite ready to give up on them. Unfortunately, when I tried the third time, the symptoms came on even more quickly and it scared me. Is there any way to salvage these dentures? I was quite pleased wtih them and worry the next set won’t be as great.


Dear Penny,

Bottom dentures with 13 teeth

You definitely have an allergy to these dentures. I’m glad the Benadryl worked for you. These type of allergies should not be messed around with. They can turn life-threatening quite quickly. I would stop wearing the dentures completely until you find out what the offending material is. You can find this out by seeing an allergist. There is still a chance these can be salvaged. My guess is that you are allergic to the unreacted monomer in the dentures. If your denture is made of acrylic, like most are, the acrylic starts in liquid form. The dentist will cause a chemical reaction, which turns the monomer into a polymer as it hardens.

In this chemical reaction, there is some leftover monomer. If this is what you are allergic to than there is a procedure that can help to turn the leftower monomer into a polymer. If your dentist is unfamiliar with that, than you can show him or her this documentation which will help them. Basically, what this boils down to is submerging the denture extremely hot water for several hours.

If that doesn’t work, you may have to have the denture remade, but this time with a different material. Acrylic is not the only thing you can make a denture with. Your first step is seeing that allergist though.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.