Have you ever been singing and suddenly felt the suction of your upper denture break and have to quickly close your mouth, lest your teeth fall out or someone see your denture fall? No? I have. In fact, it just happened yesterday… at CHURCH. I typically use denture adhesive on Sundays to prevent such an occurrence. For whatever reason, I forgot to shake the stuff onto the pink plate before I popped it into my mouth yesterday morning. So, there I was, in the middle of worship service, singing with all my heart, and suddenly… pop goes the suction. Nothing puts a damper on an attitude of worship like the thought of having to scamper around on your hands and knees to retrieve the pink plastic that was your gum line, only to find it had been smashed to smithereens when it hit the concrete sanctuary floor! Yup, that thought is pretty sobering.
I received my first denture when I was about eight years old. I was born with only six permanent tooth buds, because of my skin disorder, and only a limited number of baby teeth came in. My first denture was an “over-denture.” Basically, it was a full denture that fitted over the few natural teeth I had. It had been decided to preserve my baby jaw teeth as long as possible by crowing them. The root of a tooth is sort of like the root of a tree planted on a hill—as long as that root is in place, the soil—or gum—around it will hold up. Remove the root and the soil—or gum—begins to erode. So, while my baby teeth were being preserved to help preserve my gum, there weren’t enough of them to allow me to effectively masticate. Thus, the over-denture for the top jaw and partial plate for the lower jaw.
Try as we might, we were only able to keep my upper teeth until I was in my early teens (I managed to to hold on to two of my lower baby teeth until I was twenty-one). Without the teeth roots there to hold the bone in place, my upper gum eroded to the point that I had to have bone harvested from my hip and transplanted into my mouth and face at the ripe old age of sixteen. I had my jaws broken and realigned at the same time, because my top jaw had stopped growing when I was ten, but my bottom jaw continued to grow. Because I had a sudden, unexpected, growth spurt, I had to have my jaws broken and realigned again just before I turned eighteen.
What amazes me is that dentistry has reached the point at which it can solve virtually any problem that may come up in the mouth. Whether the dental problem arises from gum disease, cavities, or missing teeth, chances are good that a skilled dentist will have ways of fixing the problem and restoring the mouth to as good as new—or in some cases (like mine) better than ever. If you are curious about the methods that are commonly used for some of these specific issues, check out Top Dentists (or another relevant website) where you can find explanations of some of the specifics of dentistry and dental procedures.
Dental implants are probably the most sophisticated tools for creating artificial teeth, or tooth replacements. While people lose teeth—or never have them—for a variety of reasons, ranging from congenital absence to decay or physical displacement, the effects of loss of adequate dentition is universal. Inadequate dentition is not only uncomfortable, it is also unhealthy and can lead to a host of other health issues. It just makes sense that a person that can’t chew well is less likely to have adequate nutrition and are more likely to swallow inadequately chewed food, which can wreak havoc on the digestive system.
Dental implants have advanced the practice of dental science by giving clinicians ways of actually replacing the root of a tooth, rather than simply putting a cap on a decaying tooth, a bridge between existing teeth, or using a conventional denture. While conventional dentures are useful (trust me, I have them now), dental implants are designed to be inserted into the gap in the mouth, and pushed down until they actually make contact with the jawbone beneath the gums. Remember the root analogy above? The cool thing is that dental implants actually fuse with the bone to create a sturdy and realistic imitation of an actual tooth root, on top of which you can put an artificial tooth or appliance. Dental implants have actually been around for quite a long time. My sister received dental implants twenty years ago! Her implants are made of titanium, as are most these days, and shaped into what amounts to a screw-like form. The screws were placed into the jaw, and then the dental appliance was affixed to it. While she has the kind that only a dentist can remove, there are some that can be removed (for cleaning) by the recipient.
I’ve done a lot of research, and I would eventually like to get dental implants. While dental implants would feel a bit different from real, natural teeth, they would still be fully functional and would work the same as a real teeth. It would certainly be different from conventional dentures. With dental implants, I wouldn’t suddenly realize on Sunday morning, while singing, that I forgot to use denture adhesive and have to worry about my teeth falling out if I sing like I want to. I wouldn’t have to worry that if I smile too big or laugh too boisterously my teeth will pop out. I wouldn’t have to buy apples that are a little riper than I like, because they are easier to bite into. I wouldn’t have to worry that I will eventually have to have more bone harvested because my upper gum will erode to the point that a conventional denture won’t stay in place.
In the meantime, I need to write myself a reminder note on Saturday nights, and tape it to the bathroom mirror. I think a cryptic note would be best, something like, “Just shake it!” Then I would laugh AND remember to glue my teeth in before breaking out in song!