Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Long Should a Denture Last?

I was recently asked "how long should a denture last"? Good question.

The short answer is approximately 5 years. The more detailed answer is a little more complicated.

First, let me explain what happens when people lose teeth and choose dentures as the restorative option rather than implants.

When teeth are lost, the bone that surrounds each tooth is eventually lost as well. This process is called resorption. When the bone is no longer under the forces of chewing, it pretty much disappears. This is not much different from when a person loses the ability to use one or more of their limbs for whatever reason. For example, if people are confined to a wheelchair or cannot use an arm that has broken, then the muscles and the bone will atrophy. 

There is a rapid amount of bone loss that occurs within the first six months after the loss of a tooth. It pretty much slows down after this healing period. However, bone will continue to be lost throughout life. A small amount of bone loss may not appear to be a big deal. If for example someone loses approximately 0.5 mm of bone each year, then we may not perceive it to be an issue. If however, we get 0.5 mm of bone loss for 10 years, that's 5 mm. NOW it's a big deal.

So, how does all this relate to how long a denture will last? 

The girls I employ mock me (with love of course) by telling me I am the Analogy King. I will therefore have to provide yet another analogy. 

Let's say you buy a pair of shoes today. The shoes will certainly fit at this time. But what if your feet shrink significantly for the next six months? At this point you would have to either purchase a new pair of shoes or wear more socks. 

So, with a denture, you would either have a temporary denture for the first six months and get a replacement, or just reline the original denture. 

So how long does it last?

Well, it depends on how fast bone is lost.

So, you see that there truly is no simple answer. If you have a loose fitting denture, it's time to reline or replace it. The problem with an ill-fitting denture is that it will cause the bone to resorb even faster.

If you have any doubts, have your dentist evaluate the fit.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

1 comment:

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