Dr. Hall, should the lower dentures cover the area where my wisdom teeth were? I am chewing on my wisdom teeth gums and can’t seem to get the dentist to understand. There are no parts of my new dentures covering this area.
– Carroll from Louisiana
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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Removable dentures are never completely comfortable, but this bit of discomfort is within the ability of your dentist to correct.
The short answer is yes, your denture should cover the area where your wisdom teeth were and maybe go even further back—as far back as possible. There is a pad of tissue just past where your wisdom teeth were that is called the retromolar pad, and we like the denture to cover that, if possible. Covering too much of the retromolar pad can cause the lower denture to interfere with the upper, and that is the limitation of how far back we want to go.
The problem in your case is that your dentist, in order to fix this, would have to start with new impressions, so it would be quite a bit of work and some extra laboratory work. I’m wondering if it isn’t so much that your dentist doesn’t understand what you are asking, but actually does understand and just doesn’t want to do it.
The first step in making a lower denture is the preliminary impression. This preliminary impression is made with a stock tray, and should register this retromolar area. In order to do this, dentists will use a stock tray specifically made for denture impressions. On the right, on the top, is a regular impression tray for the lower teeth.
Below that is an impression tray specifically made for taking an impression for a lower denture. You’ll see that at the back end of that tray are flanges that extend back further. Those are designed to help register this retromolar area, as well as wider parts of the mandible. The idea is for the impression to register as much of the mandible as possible. The further the denture extends into these areas, the more stable it will be. When taking this impression, the dentist should tug on your cheek some, as well as ask you to move your tongue a little, so that the impression also registers the limits of how far the denture will be able to go without interfering with movements of your tongue or cheeks. You can reference my page on the steps of creating a quality denture for further information on impression techniques.Was your dentist a little lazy or sloppy in getting this preliminary impression? While it looks like this is what happened, I don’t know all the details of your case, or if there were extenuating circumstances in your case that made your dentist want to keep your denture shorter.
You’ve probably already paid for the denture, so you don’t have a lot of leverage to get your dentist to re-do the denture. This doesn’t seem to me to be so bad as to be called malpractice, so I don’t think you have any legal recourse. You could try sharing this blog post. If that doesn’t work, you could threaten to post a negative online review and see how far that gets you.
– Dr. Hall
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.