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Witch’s Chins Only for Halloween (denture wearers)

Chances are, you can spot denture wearers all around you—even without going to dental school.

You know what I’m talking about…. The older gentleman in church who has huge bright, white, straight teeth on the upper arch with what appears to be nothing on the lower arch; the little old lady in the garden club who doesn’t smile and looks like she paints a fake upper lip on because her natural lip seems to roll up inside her mouth; or your friend who seems to have developed an ever-growing witch’s chin while her upper lip seems to be getting more wrinkles over time.

Unfortunately, denture wearers do not realize the changes that occur over time because the body miraculously adapts to all sorts of changes over time, including our own image. Most denture wearers do not see what others around them see, and even close friends adapt their perceptions of their denture-wearing friends so that they may not recognize the changes either.

Physiologic changes without natural teeth are inevitable. When the jaw bones are not stimulated by the ligaments and chewing forces of natural teeth, they shrink. The upper jaw shrinks up and back, and the lower jaw shrinks down and forward. Together, these cause the distance between the nose and chin to shorten, giving the appearance of a lost upper lip and the pronounced witch’s chin. Amplifying these physiological changes, many dentists try to give people what they say they want— whiter, straighter, brighter, and wider teeth; many do not take the overall esthetics, age characteristics and norms, and anatomical differences into account when making new dentures. This results in the fake smile that tells everyone that you wear dentures.

There is good news! Properly made dentures can be made to look like natural teeth. When dentures are properly maintained with relines, rebases, repairs, and replacement when needed (usually about every 5 years), proper facial anatomy can be maintained. Today, dental implants also can help to preserve bone in many cases. Commonly, when we deliver new dentures, patients remark, “I look so much younger!” There really is no magic being done, but when proper form and function is restored within well-tested parameters and with an artistic touch, the results can be amazing.

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