REFLECTIONS: On Being Too Nice
Mean, Nasty, Hateful and Corrupt


category_bug_journal2.gif Did you know that dentures were made by the Etruscans way back in 700 B.C.? Human and animal teeth were used and (George Washington's wooden choppers notwithstanding) continued to be so-fashioned until the mid-19th century. At least, that's what a quick check of Wikipedia tells me.

Dentures have come a long way since then; in most cases, it's hard to tell them from natural teeth. Even so, they continue to be fodder for ageist cartoons, one-liners and late-night comedians - as they have been for as long as I can remember.

Now it is my turn for a denture. Bad teeth run in the family. Both my parents had dentures before age 40, and I don't think my childhood dentist helped me much. He didn't believe in novacaine, so I learned early to fear visits to Dr. Rosenthal. If you were a good little patient and didn't scream too much, he gave you a package of Jujubes on your way out; intentionally ensuring future income, do you think?

In a recurring nightmare going back to childhood – usually just before and after dentist visits – all my teeth fall out of my mouth into my hand. No pain is involved, nor blood; just all those teeth, to my horror, loosely piled in my cupped hand.

The dream has been prophetic. I already have a partial bridge and for the past few months, my upper teeth have been wandering around leaving a gap or two where there shouldn't be any. Now, there is no saving them and this week, molds were made for the temporary denture. All remaining teeth will be extracted in a week or ten days.

I'm a practical sort who doesn't spend a lot of time lamenting what can't be changed (although I'm damned sure not happy about the thousands of dollars this is costing). But there are questions that tick at the mind during the process of preparing for the dentures: Will they fit well? Will I be able to eat everything I like? Will they look natural? Not to mention that dentures are generally a strong signal that time is getting short, and I do feel a frisson of the eternal attached to this new implement I'll be wearing for the rest of my life - whatever length it will be.

There is also an annoyance factor. I've always believed one's body ought to toot along on it own through the years until it wears out and you die. I am grateful that, with few and short-lived exceptions, that has been true for me, but it has not left me with a lot of tolerance for excess maintenance. There's not much to do with natural teeth except regular brushings and checkups. Dentures will undoubtedly require more attention and things will go wrong and...

Oh well.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Claire Jean: What I Didn't Know


My mom had dentures in her late 30's, although I feel certain that in more modern times, her teeth could have been saved. I hope you have no trouble with your dentures, Ronni. The fitting process ought to be much, much better now than it was back then.

"Excess maintenance" Now that's a phrase worth remembering. Very good, Ronni. :) Dee

Oooo, I feel your pain. I've been putting off a dental visit and if I had any smarts, I'd just go and get the work done and over with before something more serious happens. But I find that as time marches on I have become more and more cowardly and reluctant. Groan.

I had the same kind of dentist as a kid too. I remember the nurse standing by the chair with smelling salts to revive me when I fainted! So as soon as I could I stopped going, and sure enough I lost a tooth for lack of dental care.

But I was fortunate, I went to a dentist then who was caring in the extreme, she got me over my fear and I have taken very good care of my teeth since then. I have one bridge where I lost that tooth almost 40 years ago and since then have managed to keep my smile. Dentists I have seen since then have been less caring, but it doesn't matter, that one dentist really turned things around for me, she was wonderful.

Fixodent® is your friend. Don't leave home without it.

When I was a child, all my relatives over the age of 40 had dentures. I figured it was an inevitable part of growing older. So the fact that at 73 I still have a small collection of natural teeth to get by with - albeit a much-filled, multiply-bridged, yellowed and very incomplete collection - seems to me like an unexpected and rather amazing bonus.
Good luck, Ronni! I hope the transition goes smoothly. And just think - no more drilling, root filling or any other torture once it's done.
BTW, I used to have that dream too. It's a very common one, apparently.

I love this kind of post, Ronni. It adds to the answers about "what it's really like to get older," without being patronizing or idiotic, never mind ageist.

I actually would like to hear from others about the specifics: how does one go denture-dentist shopping? Is there a range of possible outcomes, from great fitting to awful?

And of course, good luck. And remember, if your dentist hurts you too much, you can always bite!!!

You are on your way to a new mouth, as they say;-) And this is all good. Still, I wanted to mention dental implants as an option. I am sure you have considered and discussed this with your practitioners. Excellent state-of-the-art folks do this work outside the USA for significantly lower rates, even factoring in travel and short-term housing.

My mother had full dentures for as long as I can remember. I don't think they caused any nore maintenance than brushing and flossing of real teeth.

My teeth are small and crooked, but I have only lost two so far. The first loss was when I was very small and fell knocking it out. The last was when I coudn't afford a dentist for years and a cavity became so bad the toothe had to be pulled.

I had my first fillings (5 of them) after the birth of my first baby. I think my dentist was a sadist, because he didn't give me novocaine and he let the drill get hot. Talk about torture!

Good luck, Ronni, with your new pearly smile.

According to Freudian dream analysis, yours is about stifled oral aggression. I've been having that nightmare about once a year for as long as I can remember; that one, and the one about saving all the women I know from a mass tornado attack. Freud was a paranoid misogynist.

Which reminds me: have your new dentures thoroughly checked out by an electronics expert for "bugs." Somebody out there has been trying to take over control of the brains of aging elitist liberals.

Unless as a side effect of overly zealous critical comments in blogs, I don't think I'm going to lose my teeth. But I am very familiar with the kind of dream you describe. Mine feature the flesh-eating fungus or virus or whatever it is, much written about in recent years. I seem OK, but then gobbets of me start trailing off as I move through the dream.
As for dentures,just one thing: once you have yours, try not to bare them when biting down. I see this a lot, and frankly it's alarming. The woman next to me last night at dinner kept doing it. Looking to me and listening politely when I spoke, she would unconsciously open wide and bite down, I assume to secure her teeth more firmly. The effect caused in me a certain sense of myself as prey.

Glad to hear some people got over the results of those awful, drilling, no-novocaine dentists of our youth. I haven't entirely. I still put off going. Have most of my teeth at 63 -- despite fillings, crowns, an implant, etc. -- but will do the minimum as long as I can.

Also -- here's a quite good article on the misery resulting from exclusion of dental care from medical insurance in this country. There's a crazy historical artifact for you ...

No, Ronnie, fret not. There shouldn't be any problem if (a) the suction is good and they fit well and (b) they are well made.

I thought I'd never get over it when I had to have all my upper set out. Like you, I had a bridge (years of smoking did them no good) and I sat and cried like a babe with the nurse to hold my hand as one by one they were extracted. They were made as near to my natural ones as possible, from a photograph, which meant no gum showing. I hate those bright pink gums that are on a lot of dentures.

A good clean regularly in special pastilles and a rinse after a meal with food that might get underneath (tomato seeds) and you'll be laughing!

I hear you on the sadistic dentist of youth, Ronni, horrific experiences for me too.
I am reminded however of this:

Woman sitting in the dental chair reaches up to grab her (male) dentist's package and says sweetly:
"Now we're not going to hurt each other, darling, are we?"


I also had a sadistic dentist back then. What helped me later to get past that experience was a dentist who used nitrous oxide which made going almost a pleasure. That dentist was the type you don't find today who would rebuild teeth when he could. Today it's all crowns. During the earlier years, before him, I lost two teeth one of which is visible when I smile broadly. There wasn't money to put in a bridge back then and I don't really mind the small gap which if it bothers others is their problem. Raising small kids, economics were a factor in the decision.

Now I have quite a few crowns but so far no problem keeping what i have. It is the unspoken issue for elders that what dental insurance is out there doesn't cover much of the cost of work and a lot of people have none. Keeping gums healthy is part of keeping the heart healthy but that is ignored in most talk of health plans

Ronni: I just wrote to President Obama -asking why couldn't there be dental coverage with medicare. Boy am I a dreamer. At age 66 my teeth are self destructing and I can't afford the costs of anything in that department right now. Having filled and capped and rooted so many, the thought to having a hole here and there in my mouth, esp. near the front where it is so noticable truly upsetting. My dear Mother of blessed memory hated her dentures and always said KEEP YOUR TEETH but she would "plotz" at a dental visit for one filling costing $300+dollars and caps and root canals - two to three thousand more, never mind implants. I have always taken care of my teeth and now I am stuck and wish I had married a dentist. OMG!!!!

For reasons unknown, this comment went to the wrong place:

"Great minds run in the same . . ." and also perhaps not-so-great teeth. I did a blog post last week on differences between old and newer dentistry and the pain problem. Click to view if if you want more on this topic. Good luck, Ronni!

Ronni--fear not!

I am one year into dentures. Best decision EVER!

Like you, I had self-destructing teeth. I had a great childhood dentist whom I truly loved, but that kind of dentist was always going to be rare. Plus if you move or change insurance or any of the other things that happen, the dental "care plans" get totally disrupted and you have to start all over with another dentist and an entirely different "treatment philosophy." The result: Huge expense, pain, and anxiety with poor continuity and bad outcomes anyway.

Not so with dentures. You may not realize this but you are moving to a "denturist" state--Oregon. That means that if you hate your new Maine dentures or if you break or lose them, you don't have to go to a dentist anymore. You just find a denturist in a nearby shopping mall and get the repairs, adjustments, or replacements you need at reasonable cost. My husband needed an emergency repair (dropped 'em in the shower), and it took ten minutes and cost $ appointment necessary.

There are, believe or not, numerous "denture support groups" on the Internet, and they are of enormous help during the process. Even the best denture experience has its rough moments, but take it easy on yourself, persevere, and go back for adjustments (I had two) until you have a whole day when you forget them entirely. It happens sooner than you think!

Dentures are far, far less trouble and pain than struggling with hopeless teeth.

My dentist also did not believe in giving me novocaine. He said he’d rather know when I was experiencing pain so that he could control it. Huh? I was so terrified, so much so, that when he made any attempt to approach my mouth, I slid out of the chair and ran. Finally, he advised my father to seek another dentist fearful that the drill would pierce something other than a tooth. My teeth have always been a concern. These days it’s as much the cost as the teeth themselves.

I wish you the best with yours!

Just don't let them talk you into "brilliant white" dentures I deliberately chose "off-white almost yellowing" and I insisted on having a slight space between my two upper front teeth.

I had no problem with the upper but a real mess with the lower. (not enough jaw to hang them to.
If I was ever going to do it again, I think I'd go for implants. It's a whole lot of money but I wouldn't have to worry about the glue dissolving in the middle of dinner with friends.
"Getting old ain't for sissies"

Remember your mother and grandmother's mouths. Holes here....gaps there. Upper class, over educated with little money as they grew older, they suffered with the extraction method of maintaining teeth.

I had one of those guys once who thought a sinus infection was a rotten tooth, so now today I have a plate. It sure is easier to maintain than my own teeth, but I wear it down. LOL Thanks to modern dentistry, I may sport crowns but they are my teeth. Stand up for natural looking teeth too. Take the dentist a photo of you with all your teeth showing. Tell him that you want to look like that. It makes all the difference.

instead of dentures, I would go for implants.

For those of you recommending implants, I couldn't agree more. Now, if you'll just send the $4,000 for each tooth, I will cancel the denture.

And I'm told that, if you lost your teeth because of bone loss in the jaw, you can also lose your implants.
I lost my teeth at 45 to bone loss. The first denture they give you is a temporary. As the gums and jaw remodel you may want to get a reline or two. They sell temporary reline material in the dental aisle.
When my jaw had held its shape for a year I went to a friend of a friend who actually makes the dentures for the dentists. He made the molds, did the fittings and adjustments and I've been very happy with them for about ten years now.
You can use a denture adhesive, but a well-fitting denture should stay in place. I'm able to eat corn on the cob, but trying to bite into an apple is out of the question; I'm told that's because there's space between the gum and the denture up in the front. I slice my apples now.
Keeping good thoughts for you, Ronni.

Ronni, I find it quite interesting how genetics can cause certain things (baldness, bad teeth, particular ailments, etc.) to run in families, and how an occasional member of the family seems to break the pattern. Like you, bad teeth ran in my family; both my parents and their 14 siblings had dentures in their 30's and 40's. But for some strange and fortunate reason, I escaped this pattern.

When I entered the Navy as a teenager, a Navy dentist marveled at how good my teeth were and asked me where I was from. He was further impressed when I told him where because most of the people that he had seen from my part of the country had bad teeth. "Take good care of your teeth and you'll have them for a long, long time," he said. Well he was right. I'm almost 75 and when I have my annual dental checkup and cleaning, my dentist always says, "Whatever you're doing, keep it up. Your teeth are in excellent condition." Easy to follow directions because all I do is brush my teeth two or three times a day. That's it.

Maybe this is the process of evolution at work; members of a species mutate and pass on those mutations. Those mutations that benefit the species continue to be passed on while others that aren't fail to survive. My daughter is 46 and has only had a few cavities in her life, and my son is 43 and has never had a cavity. Certainly there are many other factors involved, such as better nutrition and advances in dental health care, but I strongly suspect that evolution is mixed in there somewhere. So, in this case, I'm happy to be a mutant, even if no one's asked me to star in a Sci-Fi movie.

I hope all goes well for you Ronni, with your new dentures.

I am amazed when I read a statement like the one upthread about the western "Portland" It sounds like "almost heaven". Drop in dental repairs at the mall. Wow

Recently I was reading a column in the Chicago Tribune . by Mary Schmich, She was praising the Portland Oregon airport to high heaven. Well lighted, spacious, easy to navigate. They even have a classical pianist entertaining in the atrium.

Portland sounds so civilized.

So when you are getting used to the new teeth, just close your eyes and think of Portland OREGON.

My dentist growing up used to wear a full set of dentures and would pop them out if you weren't brushing your teeth well. GREAT incentive to take care of our teeth!

I've had excellent, inexpensive dental care in Mexico, just across the border from McAllen in Nuevo Progeso. Example: Broken upper incisor: root canal + crown = $470. Three upper front caps: $540 total. I don't know about cost for dentures, but we "Winter Texans" are sold on Mexican dental care. It may be even better in the summer off season.

On old tyme dentistry: I used to go to San Francisco for dental care when a child. Slow drills, no novocane and the reward for "keeping very still": a sucker. But the trip across the bay on the electric train, the lunch in Chinatown, all dressed up with hat and white gloves and patent leather shoes, ... priceless.

My dentist used painkillers, but he drilled huge huge holes wherever he saw decay.
My teeth are hanging in pretty well. I really think most teeth are lost to gum disease.
My husband and I both have meh teeth, but our children's are perfect, due to excellent hygiene and floride treatments and maybe most important, sealing them from acid saliva when they started showing signs of early decay.

Ronni: Best to you in this tough time. I really appreciate your blog and hope to meet you in person some day.

If corporate ADA would quit squeezing out competition it would free up more chairtime for children, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dental procedures but instead, the American Dental Association lobbies federal and state legislators to disregard legislation that would regulate the denturist profession in many states that include Kentucky and Wyoming. The ADA spends money to persecute denturists.

The ADA lobbied for exclusion of language to expand the dental health aide therapists programs to states other than Alaska in the recent U.S. Senate Bill 1790. The American Dental Association, wasted money fighting Alaska and lost; trying to prevent dental health aide therapists from providing dental services to Natives of Alaska living in remote areas. The American Dental Association lobbies to suppress dental hygienists from having independent boards and practices.

The American Dental Associations total lobbying expenditures as of October for 2009 was $2,110,000.00 reported by The ADA’s self-serving political agenda is hurting consumers by suppressing qualified competitors that provide oral health services to those with disparities. The American Dental Association works against its vision and mission statement by suppressing competition that has been trained and educated in providing oral health care services to those that are unable to pay the high prices charged by dentist leaving Americans without needed dental care.

Many people do without needed dental care because of high prices charged by dentist and not being eligible for Medicaid, low income programs and not having dental healthcare insurance. Corporate ADA has the power and money to change the current dental care delivery system for the better if the American public would speak out against the American Dental Associations deceiving and pacifying public relations campaign for a better public image.

Gary W. Vollan L.D.
State Coordinator, Wyoming State Denturist Association


Midlevel oral healthcare providers include denturists, dental health aide therapists, and independent practice for dental hygienists. There are many issues associated with the need of midlevel oral healthcare providers, they include shortages of dentists, high cost of dentistry, dentist unwilling to do denture care because they prefer to use their chairtime for restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dental procedures.

The American Dental Association opposes the regulation of the above mentioned midlevel dental professions. Denturist are regulated in six states in the United States and are constantly on guard against the American Dental Associations tactics of discrediting the success and use of denturists to fill the need of affordable and accessible denture care in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Maine.

Healthcare reform should start with more choices and competition by educating more midlevel providers that includes Denturists, Dental Health Aide Therapists and independent practices for Dental Hygienist. This would give Americans choices for affordable and quality dental care. The American Dental Association continues to suppress and persecute its competitors while it lobbies to be included in healthcare reform.

This initiative would show the need for a national interest in affordable and accessible dental care that includes denture care and the use of midlevel oral healthcare providers that would include independent practices and boards for denturists, dental health aide therapists, and dental hygienists.

137th APHA Annual Meeting (November 7-11, 2009): Denturists: Alternative healthcare providers for oral health screenings and referrals

I do my best not to swallow tooth glue. Every product we use contains something that is bad for us. For me, at 60, I don't care about the long term effects of zinc on my body; I just don't want my teeth to fall out on stage.

Wish you the best with your dental extractions. If it's not too late to consider, Tamar's suggestion about implants and lower costs out of the USA might be well worth checking into.

FWIW individual body weight loss for whatever the reasons can often result in gum shrinkage causing dentures to become loose making chewing, eating more difficult. (Liners will do only so much. Can result in need for having only soft foods, or if no molars for chewing all food might need to be pureed (run through a blender.)

Also, make sure you keep track of your dentures if you ever go in and out of hospitals, have ambulance transport. I cannot tell you how many elders must cope with "lost" dentures, glasses, hearing aids during situations above. Report loss right away and who lost them -- if you know, as they are required to pay for replacements. Medicare gets "sticky" and has time limits on number of replacements.

That said, dentures can, indeed, be a godsend and if we need them then we can be glad they're available. Wonderful that Oregon has Denturists. Makes Oregon look more and more attractive. This is just one more of your soon-to-be home State offerings that should be available elsewhere. (I see Calif. elders no longer able to wear their dentures, or they've been lost, but for health reasons they can't get out to a dentist to get a mold made and replacements.)

I sympathize, Ronni. I'm going through similar stuff. I often feel frustrated that younger people do not realize the trauma of losing one's teeth.

Yes, it’s true. If you have an existing denture(s) that you like and are comfortable with, a few hours is all it takes to make a clone mold to duplicate your denture(s).
In most cases you will get your original denture(s) back within hours and a completed clone in three to five days
1. The cost is about 75% less than new denture(s) ($139.00 per denture upper or lower).
2. It is NOT necessary to make an appointment with a dentist or undergo uncomfortable impressions of your mouth.
3. A duplicate denture can be a true lifesaver when something like breakage or loss happens to your original denture. You can easily avoid the embarrassment of having to go out in public without dentures by having a spare or clone denture. Ask any of our lab technicians or dentists how many lost or damaged dentures they encounter daily. You’d be surprised what can happen to your dentures......from dogs chewing on your dentures, after enjoying a tasty meal, vacationing denture wearers having their dentures washed out to sea by a large wave, or even careless hospital personnel or caregivers accidentally tossing them in the trash, or misplacing them. Trust us when we say we have heard them all! We highly recommend you have a spare set of dentures made in case of an emergency. It’s like getting a flat tire and you realize you don’t have a spare tire in the trunk of your car!
4. A clone denture is an exact duplicate, sometimes referred to as an embarrassment denture. It is made from all new materials, the teeth and pink denture base. The unique part is that our clone dentures are made ready to wear. It will feel just like your original. The fit and bite of your duplicate denture rarely needs to be adjusted. You do not need to "break in" your duplicate denture. This is convenient for elderly patients that do not wish to go through the hassle of attending several visits to the dentist.
A friendly reminder...The ADA (American Dental Association) and most dental insurances companies recommend your denture be replaced every five years. Almost every insurance company will pay for a new denture every five years.

1. It will be an EXACT duplicate of your existing denture and we use new, high impact, break- resistant, denture base material (pink gum material).
2. The teeth will be EXACTLY the same shape and size of your original denture. The shade of the teeth can be made lighter or darker upon request. In addition, we now offer the option to add GOLD teeth to your denture. (Bright white or Hollywood white teeth are available upon request (for an additional charge.)
3. The best candidates are new dentures immediately after they have been fitted and all adjustments have been made because there is no tooth wear, but any denture, new or old, can be cloned.
4. Denture cloning is only suggested for well-fitting, comfortable dentures - the only reason being the duplicate is an exact copy of the original denture.
5. Any necessary repairs to your existing denture, including breakage, missing teeth, holes, thin areas, can and must be repaired before the clone mold is made.
6. Clones are an excellent alternative for elderly, home-bound patients who may have difficulty getting to a dental office.
7. A clone denture eliminates the "breaking in" phase of a new denture.
8. An ideal time for a clone to be made is when your denture needs repair due to a loose tooth or fracture. Your denture will need to go to a dental lab for repair. A clone mold can easily be made at this time.

ONE LAST BIT OF INFORMATION: Discoloration, breakage loosing teeth or loose teeth on your existing denture usually indicates you are DUE FOR A NEW DENTURE.

Good thing I grew up in a modern age, where dentistry already have modern facilities and pain free services. This is the age where physicians encourage parents to start maintaining good oral health in their children, to avoid future diseases. I remember, my dentist Bartlett told me when I was little that the mouth is the window of a person's wellness. If you have a healthy mouth, then you also have a healthy body.

There is also an annoyance factor. I've always believed one's body ought to toot along on it own through the years until it wears out and you die. I am grateful that, with few and short-lived exceptions, that has been true for me, but it has not left me with a lot of tolerance for excess maintenance. There's not much to do with natural teeth except regular brushings and checkups. Dentures will undoubtedly require more attention and things will go wrong and...

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