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Should I get my remaining teeth pulled and get dentures?

I want your opinion on getting my final two upper teeth pulled and getting dentures now. I have been wearing partial dentures for years. And they are so uncomfortable. My partial dentures are old, and it is time to either replace them or pull my front teeth and get dentures. My front teeth are healthy, and I have seen two dentists who are not helpful with my decision. They tell me it is my choice. I understand that. I have read many websites that say it is best to keep your natural teeth, but I only have two. What is healthiest for me? Thank you. Gerald B. from Kentucky

Gerald,

Thank you for your inquiry. We cannot give you an accurate diagnosis unless Dr. Goebel examines your teeth and reviews your x-rays. Although we will not advise you, we will provide you with dental principles to consider.

Saving Natural Teeth

Usually, it is best to save natural teeth. Except for dental implants, tooth replacement options have several disadvantages compared to natural teeth:

  • Do not function as well
  • Are not as comfortable
  • Do not stimulate the jawbone

Exceptions to Saving Natural Teeth

When few healthy natural teeth remain, functions like biting and chewing put excessive stress on the teeth. When most of your upper teeth are missing, and the remaining teeth are chewing against your

Full Upper Denture vs. Partial Dentures

Suction from the roof of your mouth keeps a complete upper denture in place. It is more comfortable than partial dentures and stays in place better than a lower denture, which rests you’re your gums and relies on gravity and your cheek muscles to remain in place.

Bone Loss from Missing Teeth

Tooth roots stimulate the jawbone, so when your teeth are missing, your body takes the minerals from the bone and uses them elsewhere. And with 10 to 20 years, your jawbone shrinks significantly, causing facial sagging.

  • Lower denture – It will be challenging to keep a lower denture in place on the bony ridge of your shrunken jawbone.
  • Upper denture – Your body only saves the bone in the area where you still have teeth. But even with significant bone loss, suction from the root of your mouth will continue to help keep an upper denture in place. When you chew with a well-made upper denture, the force from your bottom teeth against the upper denture is gentler than chewing with two natural teeth.

Treatment Options

Implant overdenture - snap-on denture with the denture hovering above the implants
A snap-on denture is an implant overdenture with just two implants

Although Dr. Goebel has completed your oral exam and checked your x-rays, below are two treatment options that can give you the healthiest results:

  • Complete removable dentures – Your dentist can extract your few remaining upper teeth and fit you for a removable upper denture. It will look, function, and feel better than partial dentures. It will also improve your ability to chew.
  • Implant overdenture – An implant-supported full or partial denture is the most expensive option. But dental implants, embedded in your jawbone would support your denture. If you have significant jawbone shrinkage, grafting may be required to anchor the implants.

Either option will be healthy for your lower teeth and prevent extreme stress on upper natural teeth. If either dentist you saw offers dental implants, check the bios on their website to see if they have post-graduate training in implantology. If not, we encourage you to find a skilled implant dentist, schedule a consultation, and discuss your options.

 

Dr. Thomas J. Goebel, a family dentist in Moline, IL, sponsors this post. Dr. Goebel works closely with an oral surgeon or periodontist for implant surgery.