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Is It Best to Get Tooth Extractions and Dentures?

If I lost most of my upper teeth, is it best to keep them or get them extracted for dentures? I’m currently wearing a cheap partial denture for my top teeth, and I’ve worn partial dentures since 2001. I’ve always hated the feel of my partial denture. Will a complete upper denture be more comfortable than my partial denture, even if I keep the two teeth? I don’t want to spend more than $5000 or $6000, but I think it’s worth it because I am only 58 years old and am socially active with sports and non-profit organizations. Thank you. Winston from Hoboken, NJ


Dr. Lim would need to examine your mouth, teeth, x-rays, and other diagnostics to give you an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis. But we will provide you with some principles to consider.

Should You Get Tooth Extractions and Dentures?

Whether you should get tooth extractions and dentures depends on how many teeth remain, their condition, and how keeping them would affect your oral health.

It’s better to save natural teeth

  • It is usually best to save natural teeth that will not harm oral or overall health.
  • When most of your upper or lower teeth are missing, eating stresses them.

A complete upper denture is more comfortable than a lower one

  • Suction keeps a complete upper denture in place, so it does not move around as much as a lower denture.
  • A well-made upper complete removable denture is gentler on your teeth than a partial denture and a few remaining natural teeth.
  • Severe underbite puts more stress on lower teeth.

Your jawbone resorbs when all your teeth are missing

  • Teeth stimulate and preserve the jawbone. When all your teeth are missing, the jawbone shrinks.
  • When your lower jawbone shrinks, sharp ridges form that make wearing a denture uncomfortable. You will still have the suction to keep the denture in place. An upper denture—even with severe bone loss—is more comfortable.
  • Within 10 to 20 years, you will lack enough jawbone to support your facial muscles, and your face will sag.

What Can You Expect from Treatment Options?

Diagram of implant denture - All on 4
Implant denture

Remember, Dr. Burba is basing his explanation on the information you provided. You will need to schedule an appointment with an implant dentist for an examination and 3-D x-rays to determine your treatment options.

  • Best clinical treatment – A dentist can replace your missing upper teeth with an implant-supported denture, such as All-on-4 dental implants. Although the cost will exceed your budget, a snap-on denture is the most affordable implant denture. Dental implants anchor your denture and stimulate your jawbone to prevent further shrinkage. Your denture will feel stable and comfortable.
  • Alternative treatment – Your dentist can extract your remaining upper teeth and replace them with a complete removable denture. It will look and feel better than your partial denture. It will be easier to speak and eat with a complete denture. If your budget allows it, a dentist can place two or more dental implants to secure your denture in the future.

Schedule a consultation with a dentist with advanced implant and cosmetic dentistry training. Your denture will look natural, and you will get quality results if you decide to get implants.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma, cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.




Why Does My Jaw Keep Locking?

My jaw keeps locking. The pain was so bad last night that I couldn’t sleep. I took ibuprofen and put a warm compress on the side of my face to get a little relief, but I know this will not go away by itself. My dentist took impressions of my mouth four months ago and gave me a night guard, but it is not helping. The pain interferes with eating, talking, working, sleeping, and everything. Do I need an adjustment to the night guard? Or should I skip another visit to my dentist and get another opinion on why my jaw keeps locking? Thank you. Bianca from Bakersfield, CA


Thank you for your question. We are sorry that you are experiencing such discomfort and pain. As you may know, jaw locking is often a symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder. We will explain why your jaw continually locks and what to do about it.

Why Does Your Jaw Keep Locking?

Jaw locking, or trismus, is often related to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Other conditions can cause jaw locking, including:

  • Trauma
  • Oral surgery
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Radiation treatment for head or throat cancer

How Can You Find the Cause of Jaw Locking?

You can find the cause of repeated jaw locking by scheduling an exam from a dentist with post-graduate TMJ training. Depending on the severity of the issue and the tests you have already had, a thorough examination includes the following:

  • Analyzing your jaw joints and bite
  • Bloodwork
  • CT scan
  • Measuring your mouth opening
  • MRI
  • X-rays

Are Your Symptoms Related to TMJ?

Diagram of the side of a skull highlighting the temporomandibular join
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

A trained dentist can determine if your symptoms are TMJ related. Occasional jaw popping and clicking are not unusual and do not necessarily mean that you have a TMJ disorder. Still, you might have a TMJ disorder if you experience these signs and symptoms:

  • A bite that feels off
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Ear fullness or pressure
  • Earaches
  • Jaw locking, pain, or stiffness
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Vision problems

What Is the Right Treatment for TMJ?

The proper TMJ treatment depends on the cause and severity of your signs and symptoms. A dentist may recommend any of these methods:

  • Pain reliever
  • Orthotics
  • Orthodontics
  • Splint
  • Night guard
  • Dental restorations, such as implants, crowns, or bridges
  • Warm or cold compresses
  • Temporarily limiting yourself to soft foods to minimize chewing and let your jaw rest

Schedule a Second-Opinion Appointment

If you are experiencing ongoing jaw pain and locking, search online for a dentist with advanced TMJ training. After an exam, the dentist will determine whether your concerns are TMJ related or if you need further care from another medical professional.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma, cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.


Are BL2 Shade Crowns Too Bright for My Complexion?

Red-head woman portraying uncertainty about dental crown shade for full-mouth reconstrcutionWithin the next few months, I will get either crowns or veneers on most of my upper teeth. I had gum disease and a lot of decay. I talked to my dentist about tooth shade because I want whiter teeth, too if I need so much work done. My complexion is fair, and I want my teeth to be brighter than average without looking fake. Is BL2 too bright? I want to decide on a crown shade before asking a dentist to whiten my lower teeth so that I explain how white I want them. Thanks for your help. Sakura from San Diego


Thank you for your question.

Are BL2 Crowns Too Bright?

BL2 is bright, but you will need to consult with a cosmetic dentist to compare shades against your skin tone and lips. Although BL4 may look more natural, work with a skilled cosmetic dentist to choose a crown color based on your facial features, complexion, and personality. If you want a bright smile and have a big or vibrant personality, shades lighter than BL4 will get your smile noticed when you walk into a room. BL1 is the brightest shade on newer shade guides.

How to Select Your Dental Crown Color

You can choose your dental crown color by selecting an advanced cosmetic dentist who follows a process like this:

  • Make a provisional makeover – Cosmetic dentists who regularly complete smile makeovers make temporary teeth in resin so that you can try out their color and shape.
  • Allow you to wear the temporary replacement teeth – Wear the provisional (temporary) teeth, let your friends and family see your new smile, and give yourself enough time to decide whether you like the tooth color.

However, a cosmetic dentist must bleach your teeth before getting dental crowns if you want your natural teeth whitened. Your dentist will collaborate with a ceramist to craft crowns that match your newly whitened teeth.

You can schedule consultations with two different cosmetic dentists to explain your goals. Ask each dentist about their process for helping you get a crown color that meets your preference for a bright, noticeable smile that still looks natural.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma dentist, sponsors this post.