Ask the Dentistry Expert – Dr. Chabaylo
Dentures, Implants and You.
article by Dr. Scott Wyzykoski
There is no replacement for our natural teeth. As far as science and technology have advanced over the last several years, we cannot compete with Mother Nature. Acrylic dentures have been the standard treatment for decades for people with no teeth. Dentures are not a good alternative to natural teeth, they are an alternative to no teeth.
Many denture wearers are under the impression that they no longer have the need for a dentist. However, oral cancers are among the most common as well as the most aggressive cancers. A yearly screening by a dentist is the most effective method of detection and early detection is the key to reducing morbidity and mortality from oral cancers.
Most people who have lost their teeth will eventually get used to wearing dentures. There are a lot of factors including jawbone structure, cheek muscles, tongue, etc that can affect the overall success of dentures. The vast majority of people will be happy with their top denture, and the majority of people will be frustrated with their lower denture. The mandible (lower jaw) is very thin and shrinks quite rapidly over time. Having the tongue underneath can also make the lower denture experience very cumbersome.
After an extraction, the socket must heal, and within 6-9 months the bone will fill in and stabilize. However, as every year goes by the bone will lose vertical height. After several years, the denture will start to feel loose and lose retention and the denture will need to be relined to fit snug against the tissue.
For those people who are frustrated with conventional dentures, implant-supported dentures may be a welcome alternative. Titanium implants inserted into the jawbone sounds painful, but is actually a much more pleasant experience than extracting teeth. There is very minimal post-operative discomfort and over the last several decades, this form of treatment has become extremely successful. The implant has internal threads that can hold an attachment to hold the denture in place. The female part (called a housing) is placed on the underside of the denture to “snap” into the male attachment that is torqued into the implant. The result is a very stable, retentive prosthesis that is very stable but still needs to be removed to be cleaned. Comprehensive implant therapy can be utilized to place fixed restorations, meaning throwing those old dentures in the garbage and having solid, stable teeth once again that does not rely on the soft tissue to support a floppy prostheses.
Lower implant supported dentures and fixed implant crowns are the MOST gratifying procedures a dentist can perform, as these are the people who are astounded at the improvement. Crying and hugging are not uncommon within 2 days of treatment, as many have went through years of frustration and embarrassment with their teeth. Some people will proceed to implant treatment on the upper teeth as well, but many will be perfectly happy with just the bottom.
Potential implant candidates also need to be aware that implants do require frequent maintenance. Like natural teeth, implants are prone to calculus build-up and need to be cleaned by a dental hygienist every 3-12 months. However, having well maintained implants will also help to prevent rapid bone loss.
Implants are also the gold standard for single tooth replacement. Unlike bridges and partial dentures, implants do not rely on the remaining teeth for support and have 10-year success rates well over 90%. An implant will replace the tooth, prevent bone loss, and lower overall occlusal (bite) forces on the remaining dentition.
Every person and every situation is unique. If you are unhappy with your teeth or with your dentures, consult with your dentist about your treatment options.
Call us at 403-347-8855.