Why you need to keep
your natural teeth!
A sad story; All too common
The following is an exchange between me and a patient who wrote to me about a serious problem with her new denture. Other than correcting some spelling and removing personal identifying information, the letters and my responses (in italics) are presented unedited. Although I cannot offer real help since I do not know the actual clinical situation, I can offer some advice. As you can see, nothing I suggested was able to help this patient.
Circumstances like this occur all the time in dentistry. This patient did not request the extraction of all her remaining teeth. I can’t condemn the dentist since I really do not know the actual circumstances of the case. I present this exchange as a cautionary note for patients who want their teeth removed for cosmetic reasons. Think carefully and remember that what happened here is only one of many variations that present themselves again and again in dental offices all over the world!
Dear Dr, Spiller,
Thank you for taking the time to provide the information on your website. I recently had upper dentures created for me, about 6 weeks ago and am a “gagger.” My dentist insisted that I have all my upper teeth removed, instead of giving me a partial denture. My front teeth, eight, were firmly rooted and healthy and looked good. I had asked him for a partial, but he insisted on a full upper. The information gleaned from your website makes me feel quite sad that my dentist did not take the time to present all the options and went for the expedient solution. I have been nauseous for weeks and have not been able to enjoy food. If I had your information at the time I saw him, I probably would have looked for another one. Best Regards, A.S.
You can ask the dentist to cut the center of the palate of the denture back slightly (a little at a time) until the gagging is reduced or stopped. This will reduce the suction and retention of the denture, but it may make it possible for you at least to wear it.
Dear Dr. S, I have used an emery board and have done this. Unfortunately, my dentist is not able to adjust dentures and will not spend the time. When I informed him about the severe gagging, he said it was a psychosomatic response. He used a Dremmel and cut too far back and lost the suction. He then relined the denture and the gagging got worse. I have just a tad left to file back and feel better. Thank you so much for your concern. Do you make house calls? I’m in Florida! Best Regards, A.S. Dear Dr. Spiller, I e-mailed you in June regarding the severe gag reflex I experience with my full plate upper denture. I have filed the plate overlapping the top part of the roof of my mouth and find that I am not gagging as much. However, I think I am allergic to the resin used and find that not only can I not chew but I think I am severely allergic to the resin. I cannot chew, taste my food and vomit. I have lost at least 30 lbs and feel weak and disoriented. I am not a foolish woman, work hard, but feel myself failing more everyday. Is there another type of material that will allow me a good bite and give me the ability to chew my food? I am existing on soy milk, kefir, soft foods, soups and such. The quality of my life has deteriorated to nothing and I feel that I am wasting away. Is this the state of existence that I am now regulated to, or is there a solution? I do not have the $30K or so that Dr S___ quoted. I have already spent $3000 just for the upper plate. Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you. A.S.
The best answer is to do 4 or (preferably) 6 implants and have a horseshoe removable denture made to fit over them. There need not be any flanges or plastic covering your palate, and the teeth could even be ceramic. The only plastic would be the denture base which would be fairly small and very stable. The unit would feel essentially like real teeth. Check with other dentists and see if you can find one who does combination treatment plans including implants retaining dentures. If you like the way your denture looks, it could even be modified to fit firmly on the implants. A plan like this would still be expensive, but in your case, it would be worth getting an equity loan on your home to do it. Even if it cost you $15,000, think how much you would pay for even an inexpensive automobile. It’s the quality of your life.
Dear Dr. Spiller, Thank you and bless you for your concern and response. However, I do not own my home and and renting. My husband passed away 4 years ago and I lost my home to foreclosure. A cheap car for for me is a 1995 Nissan, excellent condition by the way. Apparently, it seems that I am without recourse to my dilemma. If I had only known, I would have stayed with what I had, which by the way, were molars drilled out without cavities when I was a young child without cavities, I have never really had a cavity and always kept to a diet free of refined sugars. I thank you for your input, but it appears I am stuck and my health will certainly continue to deteriorate. If you have any contacts that can offer a solution to my dilemma it would be appreciated, but certainly not expected l am really suffering and am 53 years old with a 16 year old female child. This is a tragedy in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Thank you, Regards, A.S