How Far Back Should Dentures Go?

I’m new to this whole dentures thing. In all honestly, I never thought I’d be without teeth at my age (42). I need to know how far back they are supposed to go. The problem I am facing is that my lower dentures do not cover the area where my wisdom teeth were and I’m chewing on gums. It’s uncomfortable. I spoke to my dentist and he told me he put them back as far as they go. How do people with dentures deal with the wisdom tooth area?


Dear Todd,

Man holding his jaw in pain

Dentures have problems. Even the best fitting dentures will reduce your chewing capacity by 50%. While you may never be completely thrilled with your dentures, there are some things your dentist can do to make this as pleasant as possible for you. Fixing this issue is one of them.

Your dentures should go past the wisdom tooth area and into the beginnning of the retromolar pad. Covering the retromolar pad completely is a bad idea because you will end up with interferance with your upper dentures, but going onto the beginning of it is fine and preferred.

So if your dentures can cover your wisdom teeth, why is your dentist acting like it can’t? While I cannot read your dentist’s mind, my suspicion is that he does not want to admit it can be fixed because fixing it means re-doing the denture completely.

If you have already paid for these, you won’t really have any leverage. You could show him this blog post and appeal to his integrity. If that does not work then you can threaten to share your experience on the review sites. This will impact  his business and he’ll know that.

An Additional Problem with Dentures

Before and after facial collapse
An Example of Facial Collapse

I am concerned that you have dentures at such a young age. Hopefully, your dentist warned you about the danger of facial collapse when you wear dentures for years.

When your teeth were first extracted, your body immediately began resorbing the minerals in your jawbone. It does this in order to be as efficient as possible with your body’s resources. Unfortunately, after about ten or so years you will no longer have enough jawbone left to support your denture. This is known in dental circles as facial collapse. The good news is there is a way to prevent it.

Preventing Facial Collapse

Implant Overdentures
Fixed implant bridge

If you place dental implants into your jawbone and then anchor your denture to them, which is a fixed implant bridge, not only will your dentures be completely secure but it will also prevent facial collapse. The implants serve as prosthetic tooth roots and signal to your body that your minerals are needed so that your jawbone can retain your teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.