Can You Live Without Dentures? The Honest and Surprising Truth
Can you live without dentures? The answer seems easy enough, and if you have a full set of teeth, it’s a pretty easy one. But what happens if you have lost all of your teeth and the only other alternative is to spend the rest of your life without teeth?
For anyone who has severe odontophobia, and anyone who simply doesn’t have the money to visit a dentist, it might seem like a valid option. So, what happens when you have lost some and all of your teeth—can you live without partial and full dentures?
Losing Some of Your Teeth
As you would expect, losing a few teeth is much less problematic than losing all of them. However, it’s still not something that you should ignore. Depending on where those teeth are and how many you are missing, you could suffer a number of consequences.
Generally, a dentist will extract teeth without seeking to put implants or partial dentures in their place, but there are exceptions, and if they suggest it, you should do it, otherwise…
Your Teeth May Become Misaligned
Your teeth support each other. When one of them is missing, the remaining teeth may start leaning into the gap. It sounds a little odd when you consider we’re talking about enamel that grows out of flesh and bone, as opposed to humans in a tightly-packed queue leaning on each other when they’re tired, but there is some logic to this madness.
When you chomp down on a tough piece of meat, your teeth will absorb that pressure. If you have all of your teeth, they’ll be prevented from rocking from side-to-side and the force will go down.
If you have a single tooth lodged in a solitary lower jaw, there are no teeth to prevent that side-to-side movement and support the tooth. And so it moves around, gradually leaning into the space.
If you have a large space caused by several missing teeth, you may find that all nearby teeth lean into that space. Over time, those leaning teeth will create gaps of their own and the teeth near to those will also start leaning.
Even a single missing tooth can cause problems, although these issues are far more common when there are multiple gaps.
It Changes How You Eat
After losing a few teeth, you may notice that you eat and drink differently.
If you lose molars on one side of your mouth, it means you don’t have the force or support you need to chew as easily on that side, and so you start chewing on the other side.
This doesn’t always happen consciously, but it’s something that most people experience when they lose multiple teeth or suffer serious decay in any of their teeth.
If you’re eating on one side, you’re placing a lot of pressure on those teeth and making them more prone to damage. It’s also a habit that can make it difficult to transition to wearing dentures.
As a denture wearer, it’s important to chew on both sides, as it helps to balance things out and ensures that your dentures don’t wear unevenly or keep slipping out of your mouth. If missing teeth mean you have been chewing on one side for many years, you’ll likely adopt the same habits when you wear dentures.
It Might Make it Harder to Brush or Floss
Generally speaking, missing teeth should make it easier to clean all of your mouth. The gaps will allow you to reach parts of your mouth that you couldn’t reach before and brush areas of your teeth that could previously only be accessed with floss.
However, missing teeth could also create gaps and crevices that make it hard to properly clean your mouth, potentially increasing your risk of gum disease.
If you develop gum disease, you are at risk of losing more teeth and may also experience receding gums. It has been said that gum disease could increase your chances of heart disease as well, although this research focuses more on correlation than causation and there is no concrete evidence that suggests gum disease directly increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Losing All of Your Teeth
It has been estimated that as many as 40 million Americans have lost most or all of their teeth. The majority of these have implants, dentures, or implant-supported dentures, but a surprising number of them have just decided to remain toothless.
It is certainly the cheaper option, but it’s not the best one, and it could create all kinds of problems for the patient, including the following…
You May Experience Bone Loss
Your teeth help to stimulate bone growth. As long as they are supported by your jawbone, that bone will remain strong. But when your teeth are no longer there, the bone will gradually be reabsorbed by your body.
As a result, your jawbone will shrink and recede, drastically altering the shape of your face in the process. It is basically your body’s way of saying, “You don’t need this anymore, let’s get rid of it”, although the process happens very gradually.
Dentures won’t save you here, as you will still experience some bone loss as a denture wearer. The difference is that it is usually much less severe. It can also be limited further by getting implant-supported dentures fitted. Your dentist will drill into your jawbone and place titanium screws inside. These screws can then hold your dentures in place and your gum and bone will heal around them.
Implant-supported dentures are by far the best way of keeping your dentures in place and will negate the need for dental adhesive.
If you lose all of your teeth today and don’t do anything about it for several years, your gums may recede to the point where implants are no longer an option. Your dentist will only consider them if you have enough bone to hold them.
So, not only will your jawbone recede and significantly affect your smile, but it will also reduce your options if you ever decide to do something about it and get fitted for dentures.
It Will Change Your Smile
It should go without saying that your smile will change considerably when you have no teeth left in your mouth. It will sag more, and while everyone is beautiful in their own way, regardless of how many teeth they have, it’s fair to say that a toothless smile isn’t as acceptable in a society obsessed with looks.
Adults of all ages are obsessed with bright and healthy smiles. Research suggests that it’s one of the most important features when making a good first impression and it’s also one of the first things that both male and female singletons look for in a match.
Sure, younger people are more obsessed with clean and white smiles, but it’s something you will see in all age groups and a very small percentage of people are willing to look past dental health problems and edentulism (the state of having no teeth).
If you want to make a good first impression, have successful dates, and generally do everything you can to maintain your smile and the personality that it exudes, you need teeth, even if those teeth are fake.
Your Face Will Change Shape
It’s not just your jawbone that affects the shape of your face. Your teeth also play an important role in supporting your facial structures and ensuring that you can smile with confidence.
When you lose all of your teeth, your mouth doesn’t have anything to support itself. Your lips are not pressed against a stable surface, and there’s nothing to prop your face up, so to speak.
As a result, your face will gradually sag and you may notice more wrinkles and more unsightly areas over time.
Dentures can stabilize your face and prevent sagging. When you wear dentures throughout the day, you’re providing your face and lips with some support and ensuring they’re not constantly sagging. Of course, there will be some degradation, as the dentures are not driven through the gums or the jawbone and the body doesn’t react in quite the same way, but they are certainly a lot better than being toothless.
And the great thing about using dentures to prevent facial sagging is that you don’t even need to wear them 24 hours a day. In fact, it’s recommended that you remove your dentures every night so that you can clean them.
A good clean helps to remove the bacteria that builds up throughout the day and if the dentures are sitting in a bath of water, it also means they’re not drying out.
If you’re worried that your dentures will feel completely unnatural after going many years without any teeth in your mouth, don’t be! They can feel a little odd to begin with, but as with everything else, it’s a feeling that you get used to.
Many dentists recommend that you wear your dentures for the first night that you take them home and that you keep them in while you eat and talk, as well, even if it seems completely alien. That way, you will be accustomed to wearing them. After a couple of days, they will feel just like the real thing!
Your Lips Will Become Thin
In addition to unnaturally white teeth, one of the must-have beauty trends of the last few years is thick and full lips. If you don’t have any teeth, not only are you missing out on the pearly white smile, but you can also wave goodbye to those influencer lips.
Once your teeth fall out, your lips lose the support, as noted above. The muscles in your face also begin to change and sag and when this happens, your lips will look longer, and not fuller.
Longer lips are definitely not a popular beauty trend and likely never will be. It makes them look stretched and weak, giving them a “thinning” appearance. It will make you look much older, and this is true whether you’re a 20-year-old who has lost their teeth in an accident or an 80-year-old who lost them to decay and disease.
You’ll Develop Jowls
When the muscles in your face change shape and sag, you may develop jowls where there were none before. It’s something that comes naturally with age, but if you don’t have any teeth, you will be hastening that process and potentially giving yourself jowls long before your time.
If you ask any aging man or woman what facial features and signs of aging they fear the most, jowls will be right up there. No one ever includes “jowls” on their list of “must-have” features in a partner, and not without reason.
It’s not just about vanity, either. If you have thin lips, a sagging face, and jowls, it may change how people perceive you.
You may come across as being mad, unhappy, or smug when you’re not. Humans take a lot of social cues from peoples’ faces, and their perception of you may change based purely on the changes in your facial structure.
Are There Any Benefits to Having No Teeth?
People who lose all of their teeth tend to assume that their days of visiting the dentist and experiencing dental problems are over. They have no teeth, so what do they have to worry about?
But you still have gums, and so you can still get gum disease. Symptoms can include bleeding gums, bad breath, gum recession, and more. Dentures won’t fix this, but the fact that dentures require a lot of care and attention means that wearers often spend more time focusing on their oral health than individuals without teeth.
After all, you wouldn’t feel comfortable putting a freshly cleaned set of dentures into an unclean mouth, and so you spend some time rinsing and brushing beforehand.
Of course, an individual without teeth would need to spend less time and money on dental appointments and if they focus on keeping their mouth clean and their breath fresh, they also won’t have any problems like gum disease or halitosis.
They don’t have to worry about their dentures breaking and needing an emergency repair, nor do they need to concern themselves with denture cleaning solutions, travel kits, and everything else that comes with owning a set of dentures.
But is that really worth all of the facial sagging, thin lips, wrinkles, and everything else that goes with having no teeth?
After all, not only can you purchase a decent upper/lower denture for around $400 these days, but thanks to companies like XODENT, you can get a complete denture cleaning kit for yourself and your partner for less than $20. And if you don’t have a partner, you can use the spare kit as a travel kit.
It’s not expensive to own, clean, and maintain a prosthesis, and if you take good care of it, it will last for years.
Unless you don’t have any money for dentures and are unable to get insurance, or you have distanced yourself from the world and everyone in it and don’t care about what they think, there is no excuse. And even if these scenarios are true, there are cheaper alternatives and you should think about how dentures benefit you, and not just how they appear to everyone else!
Summary: Get Your Teeth Replaced
Visiting the dentist is rarely as scary as you think it is and if it’s all about money, there are cheaper alternatives, including programs designed to help low-income families and dental schools.
Even if you exclude fear and money, there are still those who refuse to see a dentist and get their teeth fixed and it usually comes down to habit and gradual exposure.
If you have a full set of teeth, you may be horrified at the idea of losing them all. After all, one of the most common anxiety dreams involves teeth falling out. But if you’re a little older, don’t spend much money on teeth whitening, and are not as focused on your appearance, you probably won’t care when one or two teeth fall out.
There are clear and obvious gaps in your mouth, but they’re minor, you can still eat without issue, and you have a nice smile, so who cares?
When the next tooth falls out, you adopt a similar attitude, and when you eventually lose one of your front teeth, you tell yourself that it’s cute and quirky—not much of a problem.
Before you know it, you have lost all of your teeth, are still making excuses for the fact, and have decided that you will not get them replaced.
As far as you’re concerned, it’s purely a vanity thing, and because you don’t think it looks too bad, and you don’t really care what others think, it’s not something that concerns you.
But as noted above, there’s so much more to it than that. Not only will your appearance be more shocking but the way that you eat will change as well.
For the sake of $400 for a budget prosthesis, is it really worth putting yourself through all of that?
It doesn’t matter how long you have been toothless or how you got there. Your dentist should be able to offer you a solution and you might be surprised at just how effective their treatments can be. Contact them, book an appointment, and give them a chance to work their magic.
It will change your life for the better.