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Should I Save My Last Two Upper Teeth?

I have all of my bottom teeth and they are still healthy. My upper teeth, on the other hand, are a complete disaster. I only have my two front teeth left of those. Currently, I’m wearing two upper partials, but they’re uncomfortable and make it hard to speak. Because I don’t like them, I am only wearing them when I have to chew things that require grinding, such as meat and nuts, etc. Recently my dentist mentioned he thought I’d be happier with a full upper denture. I’d always thought it was better to save your natural teeth, but I’m all for being happier. Which is the way to go? One other piece of information that may be helpful is I have an underbite.

Danny

Dear Danny,

completely removable dentures

First, my disclaimer: I have not examined your bite and therefore can only give general guidelines. As you mentioned earlier, under most circumstances, saving your natural teeth is the ideal. However, you are using those last two teeth for most of your eating. Combining that with your underbite means those two teeth are under a lot of stress and not likely to last much longer, even if they are healthy now.

The idea solution, in that case, is to remove those last two upper teeth and get implant-supported dentures. These place dental implants into the arch which mimic the roots of your teeth and help prevent facial collapse.

However, having implants isn’t nearly as important on your upper arch as it is your lower arch. Upper dentures are held in by suction and don’t have a lot of movement.

Lower dentures just rest on the ridge of your jawbone. The longer you are in dentures, the more your jawbone shrinks, hence the facial collapse I mentioned above. Eventually, there isn’t enough jawbone to retain your dentures.

In my mind, the priority would be to keep the lower teeth as healthy as possible. Having dentures on the upper arch will actually create less wear on the lower arch and will help preserve those lower teeth, so long as you are keeping up with adequate oral health habits.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.