Denture retention is the ability of your dentures to stay where they’re supposed to. There are a lot of forces that can influence this: the size of denture area, the shape of your tooth ridges, use of denture adhesive, even the viscosity of your saliva and the air pressure. But one of the most important is the action of the muscles of your mouth and face. This can be a powerful force for either dislodging your dentures or holding them in place.
One theory about how these muscles can be used to hold your denture is place is known as the “neutral zone” theory.
How Your Muscles Interact with Your Teeth
Your teeth and your muscles learned to work together over the course of your life. It was a long, gradual process, but your muscles helped shape your teeth so they interacted appropriately.
Your tongue spends a lot of time helping to shape your teeth. As part of its natural movements, it often sweeps across your teeth, cleaning them, but also pushing out on them slightly. And when it rests, in most people it pushes upward and outward on your upper jaw. Your tongue is working subtly but constantly to define its space inside your mouth.This is vital, too, because one of your tongue’s jobs is to put food between your teeth to be chewed–without getting bit. In order to do this successfully, it needs just the right amount of space.
Resisting the pressure of the tongue are the muscles of the cheeks and the face. They keep the tongue from pushing your teeth too far out, which can still happen sometimes if you have an aggressive tongue thrusting behavior.
Between the two of them–your tongue and your cheeks–they have defined a precise space for your teeth to be. A space in which the muscles forces are precisely balanced to help hold the teeth in place. This area of balanced forces is what is described as the “neutral zone.”
Denture Retention in the Neutral Zone
In theory, we can use this neutral zone to hold your dentures in place. By getting dentures that fit precisely in this zone, the balanced forces will result in improved retention of dentures, making them less likely to slip out. The problem is that because dentures are often wider than your natural teeth, it can be hard to have them stay in the neutral zone.
Neuromuscular dentures don’t exactly use the neutral zone concept to improve denture retention. It’s a modified, updated version, but it is similar in that it acknowledges the important role the balance of forces in the mouth plays in keeping your dentures in place. We take dynamic impressions that help us define the borders of the dentures so that they work with your muscles, not against them.
If you would like to learn more about how we can improve the fit of your dentures, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC denture dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry today.