As Time Goes By

As Time Goes By

The New Year is a time to reflect on the past, consider the present, and plan for the future. Ushering in the New Year marks the passage of time. We hear phrases such as “where did the year go?” and “how time flies”. Some view the passage of time unfavourably. However, by being conscious of time, acknowledging change and heeding a call to action, time can become our ally in living a life of happiness and health – including our oral health.

Time Goes By
During the course of daily living, it is easy to lose track of time and awareness of the time interval related to objects and events. A case in point is the fact that denture wearers frequently forget when their dentures were made and/or they do not think about the age of their dentures. Dentures are subject to formidable chewing forces which, over the span of time, causes them to wear and affects how they fit and function. On average dentures have a life span of about eight to ten years; however, in order to extend their useful life, fit properly, be comfortable and chew efficiently, dentures need to be periodically examined, adjusted and refitted (relined) by a denturist. Unfortunately, many people who are managing with their dentures tend to forget about their oral health and fail to have regular checkups.

Change Happens
Our bodies are not static; they are constantly changing. This also holds true for our mouths, especially after teeth have been extracted. Following extraction, gums/bone will change rapidly and they will continue to shrink throughout one’s lifetime. Denture wearers are usually unaware of the changes happening within their mouth and with their dentures because changes are typically subtle and occur gradually over the course of time. Frequently, denture wearers are unaware of problems that are developing until they face an emergency, such as pain or a broken denture.

It is important that everyone have their intraoral (mouth) and extraoral (head and neck) examined annually, regardless of the number of natural teeth missing. Oral disease can occur even after all of a person’s teeth have been extracted. Oral disease does not always provide clear warning signs in the early stages of development. Oral disease, including oral cancer, is often treatable, however, early detection is critical. In addition to a visual and tactile exam, a number of newer screening technologies have become available to assist with the early detection of oral abnormalities. For instance, the Velscope® – a hand-held device that uses fluorescent light – can help to identify abnormalities often before they can be identified with the unassisted eye. Early detection can lead to more treatment options, potentially less invasive treatments and better outcomes.

Take Action
Symbolically, the New Year is the time of year when people acknowledge the need for and embrace change. People make plans for the coming year and programs, such as dental insurance, are refreshed. Good oral health is essential to one’s overall health and happiness. When was your last oral checkup? Are you confident with your smile? Are you able to eat the foods that you want to eat? Caregivers: are the people you are providing care for comfortable and able to eat with their dentures? The New Year is a fitting time to take action. Good oral health is essential to you and your loved ones’ overall health and happiness. Call Teresa for a consultation or to schedule a Velscope® examination. From all of us at the Nancy Tomkins & Associates Implant and Denture Clinic, we wish you a happy and healthy new year.

The Technical Aspect of Dentures

Nancy Tomkins working on dental implants

There are two components involved in the detailed process of designing, constructing and fabricating precision dentures: the clinical procedures performed by Nancy and Cliff directly in the patient’s mouth, and the technical procedures completed in our denture laboratory.

Fabricating precision dentures is far more complex than most people realize and multiple appointments are required to determine the specific measurements unique to each patient to ensure optimum fit, ideal function and a natural looking smile.

In our laboratory we use high quality European dental materials to simulate the gum tissue and teeth. Since we all have varying shades of gum tissue, denture acrylic is available in different shades. The commercially manufactured teeth are also available in a variety of shades, shapes and material quality that reflects directly on the natural appearance, durability and cost of the dentures.

Cheap denture teeth are used far too often in the fabrication of dentures without the patient being aware of it. This compromises the durability, chewing efficiency and appearance of the denture.

The process of creating a denture begins with an impression (mould) of the upper and lower arches (gums). These impressions are used to create dental stone models that are replicas of the arches. A customized form-fitting impression tray is fabricated on these models to take a second, far more detailed impression, using precise impression material to capture muscle movement. After a second set of dental stone models are poured, a wax rim is fabricated to assist Nancy or Cliff with establishing the bite (the relation of the upper and lower arches to each other).

This information is now transferred into an articulator – an instrument that holds the positioning of the arches to each other and simulates the movements of the jaw (opening, closing and side movements that we all do while chewing and speaking). Once the bite is established, the selected denture teeth are set up in wax according to specific measurements.

This arrangement of teeth is tried in the mouth so that adjustments can be made. After Nancy or Cliff have verified the correct bite with the patient, and all esthetic (appearance) and phonetic (speech) requirements are met, the denture is processed (completed).

Finishing a denture is a time-consuming process whereby the form of the wax denture, including the denture teeth, is invested in dental stone to replace the wax with pink dental acrylic. This investment is heated, and the wax is removed. The empty mould is then filled through high-pressure injection.

After a curing period, the stone investment is removed, the acrylic is trimmed and polished, and the denture is complete.

Because each mouth is as unique as your fingerprint, the techniques that are used in our clinic are even more comprehensive than explained above. We use additional measurements and equipment (eg: intra oral pintracer and facebow) to establish the precise bite and the correct position of the stone models in the articulator in order to simulate the accurate movements of the patient’s jaw.

It is important to know that the quality of materials used in denture fabrication and the correct alignment of the denture teeth is critical for optimum fit and function.

Am I Too Old?

Cliff in the denture clinic

This is a question that we often hear during consultations with patients considering their options for denture treatment.
Many people wonder if it’s worth spending money on new dentures or dental implants because they are not sure how much longer they will be around to enjoy them. Surprisingly, some of these people are only in their 60s and 70s! But the question should really be, ‘what is the quality of life I want to enjoy now?’

Dentures affect more than just how you look, they are critical to your self-confidence, speech and chewing efficiency all of which have a direct significant impact on your nutrition and overall health and longevity. We have had several patients over the years that are well into their 90s – and beyond – who chose to improve their quality of life with new dentures and dental implants after years of suffering. They improved their quality of life by improving the fit and comfort of their dentures.

At 92 years of age, Edna came to us with tremendous lower jaw pain. She was unable to eat because her dentures were not fitting well. Her health was seriously declining due to her inability to eat and subsequent weight loss, and out of concern her son was anxious to find a solution for his mother. After discussing the options of new dentures versus dental implants, Edna opted to have the dentures without implants. Edna’s son drove 2 hours each way to bring her to our clinic for the multiple appointments necessary to complete her treatment. When her dentures were inserted, Edna was elated. She is now able to eat comfortably and Edna’s son said, “I am not sure if I can handle the ecstasy, it is all that she talks about.” Edna is pain-free and enjoying food again.

Ruby was 93 years of age when she came to the clinic for a consultation. She decided against replacing her 40 year old dentures, “I am too old for new ones.” Recently, at the age of 101, Ruby decided she would spend the money and get new dentures, and she is excited at the prospect of eating in comfort.

Close to 94 years of age, Eleanor had dental implants placed to improve the stability of her lower denture because her son told her he had dental implants placed at age 72, and ‘they are a miracle’. She just celebrated her 102nd birthday and she continues to eat comfortably and every day enjoys the present she gave herself, “… when I was younger.”

I consulted with Paul a few days before his 100th birthday. He didn’t need new dentures; he required an upper denture refit/reline as he had recently lost a few pounds. On his 100th birthday, I telephoned Paul to see how he was doing and to make sure everything was comfortable. He said, “Thanks to you, I’m eating a steak on my 100th birthday!“

These individuals demonstrate that no one is too old for new/replacement dentures or dental implants as the quality of life should be important at any age. Comfortable dentures allow you to eat and smile your way through any social function, without the worry or pain of ill-fitting dentures. Efficient chewing, safe swallowing through proper mincing of food, and the ability to comfortably eat a variety of healthy and delicious food contribute to a high quality of life, no matter what your age. We inform our patients of all their treatment options regardless of their age.

Call Teresa for a consultation.

*Not their real names- true stories.

A Warm and Welcoming Environment

Nancy Tomkins Denture Clinic in Brantford is conveniently located at the corner of Charing Cross Street and St.Paul Avenue in a bright, fully wheelchair accessible clinic with ample free parking.

Fully certified and equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, we pride ourselves in offering our patients the absolute best in precision denture solutions in a warm and friendly environment.

No dentist referral necessary.