What Are Implant Dentures?

I wanted to get dental implants but couldn’t afford it. My sister told me there’s something called implant dentures that don’t cost as much. Is that true?

Luke M.

Dear Luke,

dental implants anchoring dentures

What your sister is referring to is using dental implants to anchor your dentures. It’s very useful in allowing you to build up to the number of implants you’d like but can’t afford in the beginning. You can get this with as few as two implants, using snap-on dentures.

There are important benefits to this above just using straight dentures. When your teeth are removed your body begins to reabsorb the minerals to use elsewhere where they’re more needed. While very efficient, it does mean you’ll be losing most of your jawbone. Not only does this make you look years older, but eventually you won’t even have enough jawbone left to retain your denture. This process is known as facial collapse.

Advantages of Implant Supported Dentures

  • Prevents facial collapse
  • Keeps your dentures from slipping
  • Gives you time to save up for more implants

I’m concerned you’re having to get alternative treatment advice from your sister. A good dentist doesn’t just tell you the ideal treatment. He also tells you about all the alternative treatments along with their pros and cons. For instance, below I’ve pasted a screenshot of Dr. Burba’s submenu for dental implants. You’ll notice he would go through quite a few options with patients and not just expect them to go for the high-end treatment.

list of tooth replacement options

If you need to replace teeth, which is a huge and advanced undertaking, I’d like you to get a second opinion with someone who will tell you what your options are.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Dentist Said I’m Too Old for Dental Implants?

I’m a little distressed and hoping my dentist is mistaken. He’s been my dentist for years, but sometimes I get the impression he doesn’t exactly “keep up” with the developments in his field. I’ve had dentures for 25 years. Back then I’d never even heard about dental implants. My dentures never really looked natural, but it’s getting impossible to keep them in even though I completely replaced them a few years ago. To top it off, now my face is smushing around them. I asked my dentist about dental implants and all he said was, “Not at your age.” I’m sick of dentures. Is there any way for a mature woman to get implants?

Sarah L.

Dear Sarah,

dental implants anchoring dentures

I’m sorry your dentist gave you the impression that your age would preclude you from getting dental implants. If you’re in good health otherwise, there isn’t really a reason why you can’t have them. Though, the length of time you’ve had dentures will require you to have another procedure done ahead of time in order to make them viable.

When your teeth were removed, your body started reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. While great for other aspects of your body, it’s a horror for your jawbone. This is why your dentures no longer fit and why your face has scrunched up around them. This is known as facial collapse.

Dental Implants are a Great Solution

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to that bone loss. Bone grafting can now be done as a one-day procedure. Once you have enough jawbone again, you’ll be good to go to get dental implants. The best part is, with implants in your jaw, you won’t have to worry about losing any more jawbone.

Now, I want you to know your dentures could have been made to look beautiful and natural, though you’d still have the same problem with the bone loss. What the dentures look like is really down to the cosmetic abilities of the dentist. It sounds like your dentist isn’t very artistic.

Unfortunately, you won’t get any better results from him next time, unless he’s done extensive training since then. If you want a beautiful smile, you need to find a different dentist to do these implants.

Who Should Do Your Dental Implants?

There are two things which need to factor into who you go to for this procedure.

1. Technical skill. They’ll need extensive training in the implant procedure. You want to make sure they’ve done post-graduate training.

2. Cosmetic Ability. If they get the implants right, that’s great, but you won’t like your smile much if he doesn’t make the implant crowns beautiful. The most artistic dentists are AACD accredited. In fact, many of them have a beautiful smile guarantee.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

How Do I Know If My Dentist Is the Best for My Smile Makeover?

I’m worried I should go to a different dentist for my smile makeover. He’s a really nice man, but when I suggested I get porcelain veneers he said that crowns would be a better option. I told him I didn’t want to grind my teeth down when they’re healthy. He said he was willing to get certified to place Lumineers for me. He’s super sweet and I love that he’s willing to learn something to help me but I’m not sure I want to be his first case, especially because this will essentially wipe out my life savings. What do you think?

Carrie E.

Dear Carrie,

Woman with beautiful smile

Your gut instinct is right. It does sound like you have a very caring dentist, but he won’t be the best dentist for your smile makeover. You need someone who’s had significant training and skill in cosmetic dental work. It takes a lot of training and artistry. It doesn’t mean you have to switch dentists altogether. Just for your smile makeover. You can still see your regular dentist for everything else.

Look for a dentist in your area who is accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). These are the dentists who have the skill you need to create a gorgeous smile. In fact, most of them have a beautiful smile guarantee.

The Best Way to Care for Your New Smile

Now one thing to understand is your dentist won’t know the right way to care for your new smile after you finally get it. The important thing will be to make sure they don’t use anything like a prophy jet or other power jet to clean your teeth. That will remove the glaze from your porcelain veneers and they’ll quickly become ruined.

He sounds like a responsible dentist. It might not be a bad idea for him to learn about how to properly care for them for your further cleanings and check-ups. I bet he’d be willing to do that, especially because he offered to get certified in Lumineers for you.

By the way, tell him if he’s truly interested in learning about placing porcelain, not to waste his time with the Lumineers seminar. He’d be better off learning about true aesthetic dentistry at somewhere like LVI. Obviously, he’d probably take that better from a peer than a patient, so feel free to show him this post.

Best of luck with your smile makeover.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.