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Q: I am an 86-year-old lady and I have a question not of importance, but curiosity.
When I was 21 years old, I had all my teeth pulled. New ones were not put in immediately. I still have the same dentures. That makes them 65 years old. This was done in Rhode Island. I’ve never used any kind of stuff to hold them in. They are thin in the roof part and bottom teeth are worn down some. I eat anything. My question is: Have you ever met anyone else who has had dentures that long, still in “fine” working condition?
A: Thanks for your email. This is a good question, and it brings up some interesting points. First off, congratulations on having a set of teeth that have been so useful for such a long period of time. You are not alone in this category. There are many people from your era who have experienced much the same situation.
This reminds me of a professor at dental school who I was very fond of. His name was Dr. Remy. Dr. Remy was the kind of guy who made a set of teeth similar to what you have described. Simply stated, he made them the old fashioned way — with great success. He had much to offer as an instructor, but he was longwinded and very picky in approving the student to move on to the next step. As you might suspect, this meant he was always available and had lots of time to spend with you if you had the patience for him. Thankfully, my Dad taught me to seek out those who could help bring you to the next level and stick with them.
As you probably suspected, I did all of my removable denture cases with Dr. Remy and loved every minute of it. He had so many tricks to offer that lead to a successful denture, even in tough situations. I never had to wait to have my work checked because no one else wanted to work with him. I always think of him and silently thank him for all the knowledge he gave me. Once again, Thanks Dr. Remy!
Back to you: One of the reasons you have had such success is the fact that you did not have the dentures placed immediately after the extractions. You might recall from previous columns that immediate dentures are what we do most of the time because people of our time do not want to go without teeth for any period of time. There are many tricks available to make them successful, but there is nothing like waiting for healing to take place and then making the dentures. It leads to a better-fitting set of teeth that have the potential to last longer.
That being said, please know that you are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to denture longevity. Also know that, though a denture can fit as well as you have described, over the years there are likely changes to one’s appearance that might be evident. Through the process of creating a new set of teeth, many of those changes can be addressed if it is important to the patient. If this were not the case, one would probably continue using the teeth they are comfortable with.
Another potential concern is the wear that occurs over time. You made mention of this. When the material gets thinner, it is also weakened. If enough pressure were put on the denture through either normal chewing or a fall to the floor, the denture is more apt to break. Though things like this can normally be repaired quickly, one might prefer to have a new set of dentures made, as either a backup set or their primary ones.
I hope that I have answered your question adequately. I want to thank you for reminding me once again of Dr. Remy. The story I told here always puts a smile on my face. He was a great man.
Dr. Frank Vascimini is a dentist practicing in Homosassa. Send your questions to 4805 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446 or email them to him at info@MasterpieceDentalStudio.com.