Are Dentures as Attractive as Dental Implants?

I’m 39 years old and need to get dentures. My dentist really wants me to get dental implants because they are better, but dentures are much more affordable. Can dentures be made as attractive as dental implants or do I have to get implants for a pretty smile?

misty

Dear Misty,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

It is a shame you are having to lose your teeth at such as young age. Have you had a second opinion to see how many of your teeth can be saved?

While dentures can be made as beautiful and natural looking as dental implants, it is not their appearance which makes dental implants the better option. In fact, at your age, it is even more important. Let me explain.

Dental Implants Prevent Facial Collapse

When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes this. Without having teeth roots in your jawbone it feels the minerals there are of better use elsewhere. Trying to be efficient, it resorbs those minerals to use elsewhere. While useful to the parts getting the minerals, it has the unfortunate effect of shrinking your jawbone. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone left to even keep your dentures in. This is known as facial collapse.

With dental implants, a prosthetic root is surgically placed into your jawbone. This signals to your body that the bone is still necessary and preserves its structure.

If You Can’t Afford Dental Implants

When talking about a full set of dentures it is too expensive to do a one-to-one ratio of teeth to implants. Because of that, most patients will get implant overdentures. This uses between four and six implants and then fixes your dentures to them. This simultaneously protects your jawbone while saving you some money.

For some patients, even this is out of reach. In that case, my suggestion is to get snap-on dentures. This can use as few as two dental implants. It will keep the dentures from falling out and preserve at least some of your bone.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Will This Smile Makeover Be Bad?

I’m a little concerned. For our 25th anniversary, my husband and I decided to get smile makeovers together. Our dentist is preparing Lumineers for us. We’ve already paid our money and they were designed. She said they’d be back from the lab in two weeks. Two weeks later, she did call us but only to tell us the impressions were bad and we need to re-do them. Are we being taken? She’s already got our money. How can we be certain we’ll actually get our Lumineers?

Missy

Dear Missy,

A single porcelain veneer being placed

Having to re-do impressions is not unheard of. So, that’s okay. However, I do have some concerns. My concern isn’t that you’ll not get your Lumineers. It’s that you’ll get them and be disappointed. I’m reading into some things here, but think I’m on solid ground and want to give you a way to protect yourself.

It seems to me like your dentist may be in over her head. Here is what makes me think that. First, she didn’t notice the impressions weren’t good. Instead, the lab had to call and tell her. The fact that it took the full two-weeks, makes me think that she didn’t want to admit the impressions were bad because it could be embarrassing. She likely asked them to try anyway. At which point they likely did and had to call her back saying they were unworkable. Plus, it wasn’t just one impression, but both were unusable.

Combine those issues with the fact that she is using Lumineers instead of another brand of porcelain veneers has me concerned. The Lumineers brand are heavily marketed to inexperienced cosmetic dentists.

Protecting Yourself From a Bad Smile Makeover

You’ve already paid and had this work done, so let’s see if we can avoid having to switch dentists. When the Lumineers come back, I’d like you to insist, and I do mean insist, she puts them on with a temporary try-in paste first. If she doesn’t have any, tell her to get some and then get back with you.

This is a water-soluble gel which allows the patient to see exactly what the veneers will look like on their teeth. Make sure your husband gets a good look at yours and you at his, as well as both of you getting to see them in various lightings. If you don’t like them, really like them, ask her to send them back and have them re-done. This is a common thing and she shouldn’t balk at it.

Don’t let her try to convince you they’ll look different once they are permanently bonded on. They won’t. This is a common tactic some less skilled cosmetic dentists use to get the case done. If she can’t get them to where you are thrilled, DO NOT allow her to bond them on.

Instead, that would be the time to switch dentists. She is ethically obligated to cooperate and give the new dentist all the impressions, as well as all other information.

If it comes to that, go to see an AACD accredited dentist. These are the top of the line dentists in the cosmetic field. They can give you a stunning smile.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

What If Dentures are my Only Option?

I’m in a pickle. I’ve had four pregnancies in six years which kept me vomiting every day, multiple times a day. Then, when I was done with that, I was diagnosed with cancer. My teeth are an absolute wreck as a result. Many of them are literally crumbling. I think the only thing I can afford is dentures. I’m about to completely lose it. I keep hearing dentists say dentures are the worst thing I can do but I’m not sure I have a choice. I’ve no money left and am still paying off tens of thousands of dollars for my treatments.

Emily

Dear Emily,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

You have been through a lot and I don’t want you to beat yourself up. Sometimes, our health (even the health of our teeth) are beyond our control. In your case, I’m going to make a couple of suggestions to see if we can help you get the health you need for your jaw as well as a beautiful smile.

You mentioned dentists have warned you against dentures. The reason for that is the danger of facial collapse. Your jawbone slowly shrinks. Eventually, there is not enough money to even keep your dentures in place. The upper dentures are held in by suction, so those are a bit safer. The bottom ones just sit on the ridge of your jawbone.

If at all possible, I am going to suggest you get snap-on dentures on your bottom arch. This can place as few as two dental implants into your jawbone and keep your dentures from falling out. Plus, it will preserve the bone where ever you have an implant. From there, you can save up for other implants as you are able.

Getting Beautiful Dentures

Regardless of the type of your tooth replacement option, you want to make certain, the dentist who prepares them will create a beautiful smile for you. This is one of the few upsides for your particular situation. After years of damage to your teeth, you can now have the smile of your dreams.

Not all cosmetic dentists are equal in skill. It’s not a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association, so it is up to the dentist how much time and training he or she invests in learning how to make beautiful smile makeovers. There are two sources where you can find dentists capable of giving you a gorgeous smile.

The first is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry website. They have a link where you can find a cosmetic dentist. When you list your area, make sure you check that you’re looking for an accredited dentist. These are the ones with expertise and artistry. The second source is mynewsmile.com. They also have a “Find a Cosmetic Dentist” link. Not all of them are accredited. However, each one of them has been screened for their technical and artistic skill.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

should I have to pay for a dental implant again after two years?

I had a dental implant placed a couple of years ago. It’s feeling loose and I’m kind of worried I’ll have to pay for another one. I heard these were supposed to last a long time. Will I have to pay all over again?

Tracy

Dear Tracy,

You’re right that it shouldn’t be loose after this short a period of time. However, there can be a lot of reasons for this to happen. Some of them are easy fixes. Before you give up, contact the dentist who placed your dental implant and let him know what is going on.

Why a Dental Implant Can Be Loose

Three parts of a dental implant
The three parts of a dental implant

Not every loose dental implant is a disastrous fix. Sometimes it is something simple. There are actually three parts of a dental implant which can struggle for one reason or another.

The Implant Crown

Sometimes it can just be the porcelain crown, which your dentist placed over the implant which has come loose. Repairing that is just a simple matter of re-bonding it on again. Many dentists will even fix this without charge.

The Abutment

This is a piece which fits between the implant and the crown. Maybe it has come loose . If it turns out the abutment was faulty, the dentist can contact the manufacturer and get a replacement at no cost to you.

The Implant Fixture

If it is the dental implant fixture which is loose, that can be more serious. Sometimes it is coming loose because of an infection. There is a chance that can be saved, but you need to get to your dentist right away. Even when a dental implant isn’t a factor an infection is considered a dental emergency.

If it is loose because it hasn’t integrated with the bone, there isn’t much that can be done. Even when everything is done perfectly, a dental implant procedure can fail. When done by an experienced, skilled cosmetic dentist it’s a rare occurrence, but they can still fail through no fault of either you or the dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Salem Dentist Dr. Ruandall Burba