I would like to dedicate this last dental blog entry of 2013 to patients who suffer pain from chewing with dentures. Most people think that the dentures put too much pressure on the gum, and so it hurts when they chew. However, when a patient has very little bone left in the jaw, the nerves which normally run deep inside the lower jaw is usually the the cause of the pain. In the image of my actual patient case below, you can see the two nerves ( in red on each side ) actually sit on the surface of the bone.
This is a severe case of bone loss leading to deficient arch form. When the denture pinches on these nerves, it is impossible to bite down without pain. The chewing efficiency is drastically reduced, and the quality of life is adversely affected for these patients.
It is important to understand the biology of bone as it relates to the chewing pressure. If the bone is not continually stimulated by a tooth root, then the bone will resorb in both height and width. Ideally, every tooth root that is lost should be replaced with an implant in order to preserve the volume of the bone around that root.
What then would be the solution to help denture patients who have inadequate bone, and whose residual nerves interfere with the denture bite force?
With proper comprehensive treatment planning using computerized 3D CT Scan, we can predetermine the exact location and size of the implants that can be placed in the bone. Once the implants are integrated with the bone, a prosthesis can be fixated on those implants to relieve all pressures from the underlying nerves and tissue. In a matter of months, we can completely reverse this patient's years of agonizing pain from trying to chew with a denture on a deficient ridge.
Alex Nguyen, DDS is a Saratoga Dentist who practices General Dentistry, Cosmetic, and Implant Dentistry. For over 20 years the practice has been serving the residents of Santa Clara County and San Francisco Bay Area.