Having some kind of replacement for missing teeth is generally better for your health and quality of life than having no teeth at all. Dentures are a common tooth replacement option that can provide many benefits compared to being completely edentulous (having no natural teeth). In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of dentures versus no teeth.
What are dentures?
Dentures are removable appliances that replace missing teeth and surrounding tissues. There are two main types of dentures:
- Complete dentures – replace all of the upper or lower teeth.
- Partial dentures – replace one or more missing teeth.
Dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth and can be made from plastic, nylon or metal materials. They may have a plastic or acrylic base with artificial teeth attached to fit your mouth. The base is shaped like gums and sits over the bone of your jaw. Dentures are held in place by suction, denture adhesive or attachments to dental implants.
Pros of having dentures vs. no teeth
Here are some of the key benefits of choosing dentures compared to having no teeth at all:
Having dentures can drastically improve your appearance compared to being completely toothless. Dentures replace your natural teeth and fill out the shape of your face. This can help you look more youthful and make facial features like cheeks and lips more balanced and proportional. Being completely edentulous causes the lower third of the face to appear collapsed and sunken. Dentures can restore a more natural look.
Better chewing and nutrition
With no teeth, chewing food properly becomes extremely difficult. Having dentures enables you to chew and eat a wider variety of foods as opposed to a completely liquid or soft food diet. Your nutrition is likely to improve with dentures since you can eat meat, vegetables, nuts and other important foods that require thorough chewing. Proper nutrition is essential for overall health.
Teeth play an important role in speech and pronunciation. When you lose all of your teeth, your speech can become slurred and mumbled. Getting dentures makes it easier to speak clearly again because the appliance replaces your natural teeth. You’ll be able to pronounce words and letters like S, F and V more distinctly. Clear communication is vital for relationships, social interactions and self-esteem.
Confidence and improved quality of life
Being completely without teeth can deal a major blow to your self-esteem and social confidence. Having dentures can provide a significant mental and emotional boost. You may feel more comfortable interacting socially and more confident overall with dentures compared to no teeth. Physical appearance affects self-image. Dentures also allow you to eat, speak and smile more naturally, improving your quality of life.
Cons of dentures
While dentures provide many benefits over having no teeth, there are some downsides to consider as well:
- Dentures require daily cleaning just like natural teeth
- They may need relining or rebasing over time as your gums and bone change
- Some people find that dentures can be uncomfortable or rub against gums
- They are not as strong or efficient as natural teeth
- You may need to use denture adhesives to help them stay put
- Dentures may need replacing every 5-10 years
- Can affect your sense of taste over time
- May require denture-friendly diet adjustments
Quality of life comparison
Numerous studies have looked at how dentures affect overall quality of life and wellbeing compared to being edentulous. The research overwhelmingly shows that having dentures improves quality of life versus no teeth.
Here is a summary of the findings on quality of life with dentures versus no teeth:
People with dentures are better able to chew, swallow, eat and speak than those without teeth. This enables better nutrition. Dentures also help restore facial structure and support lips and cheeks for a more normal appearance.
Self-esteem, confidence and social interaction are enhanced with dentures relative to being edentulous. People often feel more comfortable and confident in social situations when they have dentures.
Pain and discomfort
Edentulous individuals suffer from issues like bone loss, gum irritation and oral sores more frequently than denture wearers. Dentures help protect and pad oral tissues.
Those with dentures report having an easier time interacting with people, going out in public, enjoying activities and having an overall better quality of life socially compared to those without teeth.
|Quality of Life Factor||No Teeth||With Dentures|
|Physical function||Impaired chewing, swallowing, nutrition||Improved chewing, easier eating|
|Psychological factors||Lower self-esteem and confidence||Enhanced self-esteem and confidence|
|Pain and discomfort||More oral health problems||Less pain and irritation|
|Social factors||Avoidance of social situations||Better social life and interactions|
Denture satisfaction statistics
Research also shows that a majority of denture wearers are satisfied with their dentures and feel their quality of life has improved:
- A study in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry found that 75% of complete denture wearers reported satisfaction with their dentures. Denture satisfaction was higher among newer denture wearers.
- Another study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found 85% of surveyed denture patients said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their dentures.
- 91% of denture patients in a study in the Journal of Dentistry reported improvement in their ability to chew food after getting dentures.
- A study in Clinical Oral Investigations found that oral health-related quality of life was rated higher by denture wearing participants compared to those without dentures.
While individual experiences vary, most people find that dentures enhance their quality of life compared to having no teeth. With proper care and fit, many denture wearers successfully adapt and are pleased with their dentures.
Risks of choosing no teeth
Deciding to remain edentulous instead of pursuing dental replacement options like dentures poses a number of health and quality of life risks:
Lacking teeth severely impacts your ability to properly chew and digest food. This can lead to malnutrition, weight loss and vitamin/mineral deficiencies over time. Key nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, calcium and vitamins may be inadequate.
Not chewing food thoroughly can result in digestive problems. Partially mashed food moves through your system more rapidly, leading to diarrhea, abdominal cramps and irregularity.
The stimulus from chewing helps keep jawbone strong and healthy. Without teeth, bone mass rapidly deteriorates. This causes changes in facial structure, loose fitting dentures in the future and increased infection risk.
Appearance and self-confidence often suffer greatly when all teeth are lost. This frequently leads to isolation and depression. Lack of teeth is associated with feeling less attractive and desirable.
Higher mortality risk
Some research indicates that choosing to remain edentulous may increase your risk of earlier mortality compared to getting dentures or dental implants. Poor nutrition and inflammation from gum disease likely contribute.
While dentures have disadvantages like requiring daily care and periodic adjustments, they provide significant benefits over having no teeth at all. With dentures, you can enjoy proper nutrition, clearer speech, improved appearance, enhanced confidence and a better overall quality of life. Leaving yourself edentulous poses risks like malnutrition, digestive issues, bone loss and isolation. Most denture patients report being satisfied with their dentures and find that dentures improve their ability to function and interact socially. Considering the benefits dentures offer, they are generally a better option than remaining toothless if you require full or partial tooth replacement.