I'm glad I found these message boards. I wasn't sure which category to post this in, but it seems the "adjusting to dentures" has the most activity and similar stories from people sharing their stories. I basically wanted to share my story (and maybe "vent" a little).
I have no fear of the dentist because during my lifetime, I have spent a lot of time sitting in the dentist's chair getting root canals, fillings, and caps (when I could afford them/had insurance coverage). Sometime at the start of 2007, I bit into something hard that broke one of my fillings off at the gum. I wasn't in pain so I figured I'd have it taken care of if it started to really hurt because, like many people, I didn't have a lot of money to pay for or insurance that would cover expensive dental treatment. A few months later it became painful, so I decided it was time to see what could be done. Because I had large, prominent teeth, it would leave a noticeable gap if I was to get it extracted. The dentist I spoke to at a clinic told me that I could NOT have anything done to replace the missing tooth and I'd just have to "deal with" having a large gap. Because I was in pain, I let her extract it, but immediately started looking for another dentist at the same clinic. After doing an exam, I was told that some of my caps were "failing" and needed to be replaced and new root canals had to be done. Because of the fact that I knew it would take them forever to do the work, I asked if I had any other options - because I had a very important pressing issue to deal with that didn't allow me to keep coming to the dentist every week. He told me that since the previous dentist had just removed that one tooth, I had no anchor for a partial so my only option was to have them all removed and get a complete upper denture if I did NOT want to have the root canals and new caps installed.
Stupid me. I thought it would be ok because I had known people who had complete dentures for years who never had any problems. They could eat. They could talk. Their dentures looked natural. I know someone who has been wearing uppers AND lowers since the 70s and he has never had the first problem.
So I started doing a little research online. I asked questions. A lot of questions. He seemed to know what he was talking about. Anyway, I ended up getting an immediate in the fall of 2007. I knew it would take some adjustment to get used to dentures in the beginning. Every time I went in for an adjustment for the first 3 months, I was made to feel like I was making stuff up and not being heard because "it was only natural since I had to get adjusted to wearing dentures." and I "wasn't giving it a fair chance."
I stopped seeing him at the end of 2007. It took me until the end of 2009 to find someone else who would accept state insurance (medicaid) so I finally was able to get my "permanent" upper in December 2009. I also learned that since I am hard to fit because of the structure of my mouth, I cannot have hard relines - because my bone was more prominent and larger than the average person and I needed the softer material that would be flexible and not pinch my gums, because otherwise I could never get the thing in my mouth without considerable pain.
So after many adjustments, I now have something that fits fairly tight. My only problem is I have virtually no bone left up top because it reabsorbed extremely rapidly and there is too much acrylic (because if I'm not mistaken, the dentist seems to think that it's necessary in order to "pad" out my face so it doesn't look so sunken since the bone practically no longer exists). At the last adjustment I kept trying to tell the dentist that I only have 1/16" or even less of actual tissue behind what seems like 1" of a denture and kept asking if the top should be trimmed down because it just feels like it's too big now than when it was made initially. The dentist just told me that it seemed like my "rate of absorption was rapid as compared to most people" and basically went on to something else like it was no big deal that I felt like it was too big. Think horse teeth and wax lips to fill out my face. The size of the teeth is fine, I feel it just pushes my upper lip out too far because it feels too bulky and thick to me because I had more to work with when they took those impressions back a year ago.
I basically wear it for appearances because thank the stars I don't have to apply adhesive, unless I am going out to eat in a social environment - which is rare so I guess that's good because I prepare all my meals at home. If I have to eat, I drink one of those nutritional "shakes"... because I just can't risk biting into something and having it fall out.
I wish that I could turn back the clock and I would've kept my own teeth. Even if it meant having a big gap from the extraction of that broken off tooth. My social life is nonexistent because I only go out when absolutely necessary, which these days is because I decided to further my education. My self-esteem has suffered greatly, despite the fact of trying to tell myself it hasn't - because if I had known that my face would become so sunken in from not being able to eat during all that time I struggled with that immediate until I finally got the permanent, I would've thought twice about doing it. I guess I am fortunate to have access to the state insurance paying for the work, but it's always extremely hard to find a dentist willing to accept it. I know if I hadn't been dealing with that other very important issue, I wouldn't have felt some sort of pressure to jump and do the very first thing that was suggested to me. I know I wasn't in my right frame of mind when I made the decision. And from what people are saying, dentists do not care and most of the time really do NOT know the best way to make something that works because they really are not in it to make dentures. I am almost 50, but I feel like this entire experience of trying to adjust to something I thought would be simple has made me look at least 10 years older.
It's extremely sad that teeth do not grow back. Just because we all have a mouth full of them, does not mean that everyone who sits in a dentist's chair will have a successful time with adjusting to dentures. One size definitely does NOT fit all. And dentists need to learn that everyone's experience will be different and individual and what works for one person will not necessarily be good for someone else and be willing to work with everyone who sits in that chair to make sure they are given a chance to be understood. If I could afford them, I definitely would try to see if I could get mini implants in order to keep the remaining little bit of bone tissue I have left.
I am living proof of the fact that many people have dealt with difficulty wearing dentures and it is not an imaginary problem.