Straight Teeth Talk: Get your smile back

Sept. 6, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.

By Mac Lee

All four of these pictures are of the same person. In the photo at top right, even with a full smile, you cannot see many of Robert's teeth.

In the bottom right picture, his lips are thin and the smile has a reverse curve and grooves in the corners. The pictures on top, far right, show a beautiful, natural smile with fuller lips and face. Even some of the wrinkles are smaller and the smile is straight and not curved.

Robert had lost many teeth over time and always replaced them with partial dentures.

Partial dentures are the ones that have wires that wrap around the natural teeth to help hold them in.

Unfortunately, the patient's natural teeth were never in the right place, and they were too short to fit his face.

Each time he had a new partial, they were made to fit an existing bad bite, which gave him the collapsed appearance in the lower third of his face.

As someone's bite collapses, with natural teeth or with dentures, the lips roll to the inside and lose support, making them appear to be thin and weak.

When the chin is allowed to go to its proper place, with natural teeth that are crowned or with dentures, the lips fill out.

When the teeth are in their proper place, they brace the top part of the lip and help fill in the wrinkles.

Robert considers himself the classic dental patient, who never smiled because he was so self conscious about the way his teeth looked. After knowing all of his options, he decided to remove the remaining teeth and have full dentures.

His story can be viewed by video at

In the world of dentistry, we call this process an immediate denture. Once we extract the teeth, the dentures are placed immediately.

An immediate denture is also called a healing denture. When teeth are pulled, it takes four to six months to completely heal.

During the healing process, the bone remodels, which means the denture gets loose and usually needs a couple of relines until the final facelift denture can be made.

The next step with Robert is to wait until the bone is stable and start the facelift denture procedure.

We will be able to give him even more of a smile and be able to fill in his lips and chin more to give the facelift look.

He will use his healing denture as a back-up set.

Mac Lee is a dentist in practice in Edna. He is the co-founder of Dentists Who Care, a national movement to educate the public on modern dentistry. If you have dental questions you can call him at 361-782-7191or visit him at



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