Painful Lower Dentures“Why does my lower denture hurt when I bite down?”  inquired a patient named Emily.

Emily had a new lower denture that caused pain every time she bit down on food. It felt like a shock wave (also called paresthesia) traveling up her jaw, into her neck and behind her head. Emily did not want to eat if it caused that much pain…

“It’s excruciating and unbearable. It feels like a lightning bolt is traveling through my jaw.”

Emily was losing weight, hungry and beginning to become malnourished. She desperately needed help!

Emily had a new lower denture. Other names for a lower denture include:

  • mandibular complete denture
  • lower plate
  • lower removable teeth
  • lower false teeth
  • mandibular removable prosthesis
  • lower prosthesis

Upon further examination, it was clear as to why the denture was a shock to travel through her jaw – the mandibular nerve was exiting through her bone onto the top of her lower jaw. This means the nerve, (which is normally inside the lower jaw) was laying outside of Emily’s bone.

Every time Emily chewed food, the lower denture would compress the mandibular nerve thereby creating a “shock” impulse of her nerve.

We adjusted the lower denture to make space for the nerve. The pain stopped when Emily wore her mandibular denture (lower denture). Emily inquired, “What else can be done to make the lower denture more stable?”

There were three treatment options available:
1. Use a zinc-free denture adhesive. Emily did not like this option so she pursued…
2. Place two dental implants to fix the lower denture. These dental implants would prevent the lower denture from sliding around and instability. Due to the finances available to Emily, she chose this option. Emily was very satisfied and was saving up for her ideal options which were…
3. Place 4-6 dental implants and fabricate a new lower set of fixed teeth (fixed bridge) retained in place by dental implants. These teeth are not removable and are fixed in place. Emily knew that this was the best option for her, when she could afford the fixed bridge option. This option places the least amount of pressure on her gum tissues.

We hope you find Emily’s story beneficial, in case you have a lower denture that is painful and shocking. Here’s to lower denture comfort and good eats!

Be well,

Dr. Joe Kravitz, DDS, MS
Prosthodontist, Author & Speaker