Category Archives: Dentures

Denture Disaster

I can’t afford a full set of dental implants, which is what I really wanted. I know they’re better, I just have no way of getting them. I wasn’t thrilled about getting dentures but just thought I could make the most out of it. But, I just can’t deal with the movement. The stupid things haven’t fallen out, but they slide enough to make me nervous. This whole thing has been a disaster. It’s so discouraging. Is there anything I can do which will keep them in?

Mona B.

Dear Mona,

An image of a snap-on denture
Snap-on Denture

You’re in a tough spot. While some people can get along with dentures, no one really loves them. Even the best fitting dentures cause you to lose 50% of your chewing capacity. Unfortunately, that will only get worse. Your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. So, the longer you wear dentures, the more jawbone you lose. Eventually, there’s not enough jawbone left for you to retain your denture any longer. This is known as facial collapse. The only way to repair it is if you get bone built back up through bone grafting.

Solution to Slippery Dentures

Snap-on dentures are a good intermediate step for you. It will allow you to anchor the dentures to your jaw with as few as two implants. Obviously, the more implants you have the better, but this is an affordable way to get dental implants to preserve at least some jawbone. This also gives you time to save up to get more implants as you’re able to.

Don’t get too discouraged. You’re at least doing the research to find out about solutions. Many people go years without hearing the warnings about dentures or learning of any solutions.

Just be sure to not let any old dentist do the work. It is an advanced procedure. You don’t want to risk it being done improperly. Make sure they have significant post-graduate training in restorative dentistry.

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

What Would Getting Dentures Entail?

I’m losing my teeth and making some decisions about what to do next. What would it entail to get dentures? Do they put you out and then take out all your teeth at once? Do you get the dentures right away?

Carla

Dear Carla,

Dentures

I’m sorry you’re facing this decision. I know how heartbreaking it can be. I’ll answer your question about dentures, but before you make a decision I want to be certain you know your options other than full dentures.

Options to Full Removable Dentures

Dental Implants

illustration of a dental implantIf you’re removing all your teeth, ideally you’d get dental implants. As you can see from the illustration at the left, it implants a prosthetic root into your jawbone. This is why dental implants are so useful. They’re much more stable than other options. You can eat and brush/floss as you normally would with your normal, healthy teeth.

However, their biggest benefit is the prevention of facial collapse. When your teeth are removed, your body immediately begins to reabsorb the minerals in your jawbone to distribute elsewhere throughout your body where they’re more needed. It’s efficient, but the result will be you won’t have enough jawbone left to retain a denture. Dental implants prevent that.

Implant Retained Dentures

dental implants anchoring denturesVery few people can afford to get an implant placed on every tooth. However, implant supported dentures are another option which is more do-able financially. With these, your dentist will place an implant in even distribution throughout your bite. When that’s completed, he can anchor your dentures to them. You get the benefit of preserving a good deal of bone along with having your dentures secure in your mouth.

Obviously, the more implants you can afford to place the better, but this can be done with as few as two implants, which are called snap-on dentures.

How Are Removable Dentures Placed?

First, the teeth are extracted. Some people prefer to have dental sedation for this part of the procedure. This way they can sleep through the procedure if they’d like. Others prefer just to use a local anesthetic. It’s completely up to the patient. Once that is completed, the next step depends on the type of dentures you decide on.

Immediate Dentures

These can be placed as soon as your teeth are removed. The benefit is you can walk out with a full set of “teeth”. They tend to end up being a bit more expensive because they require more follow-up visits and adjustments.

Conventional Dentures

These are placed about eight weeks after extraction. The benefit is they tend to fit better, requiring less adjustment. The obvious drawback is the wait to have a smile.

Discuss these options with your dentist. I’m sure the two of you can come up with what works best for your lifestyle and budget.

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

Options to Dentures or Dental Implants?

I’m having every tooth extracted. It’s a long story I won’t go into as to how this happened. I’m looking for options now. My dentist wants me to get a dental implant on every tooth. Even if I owned a house (which I don’t). I’d have to sell it to pay the cost of something like that. He said if I didn’t do that I’d have to get dentures. I don’t want that either. Isn’t there a middle ground?

Darren L.

Dear Darren,

An image of a snap-on denture
Snap-on Denture

Absolutely there’s a middle ground. There’s also varying degrees of ground. I’m personally appalled that your dentist gave you only those two options. That’s like telling a potential homebuyer they either purchase the multi-million dollar mansion or they’ll have to like in a decrepit shack with no power. Ethically, he’s supposed to inform you of all your options.

First of all, you can get dental implants without having an implant placed at every tooth. In fact, only the richest of clients could afford something like that. When all your teeth are missing, patients normally get implant supported dentures. It utilizes a dental implant, but they’re anchored to your jaw with implants. Obviously, the more dental implants you have placed, the more secure they’ll be. However, you can get them with as few as two.

These are generally called snap-on dentures. They help keep the denture from slipping out. It also preserves your bone where the two implants are placed. That’s very important. In fact, the more implants you have placed, the more you’ll prevent the facial collapse that comes with jawbone shrinkage, one of the biggest problems with dentures.

How Dental Implants Prevent Facial Collapse

When you remove your teeth, your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. It’s remarkably efficient, but devastating to the use of dentures. Eventually, your jawbone shrinks to the point where there’s no way to keep the dentures in.

Every implant placed, including those from snap-on dentures, retain the minerals in each place there are implants. That’s because your body recognizes the implant as a tooth root and knows you need the jawbone intact in that area.

This is one of the reasons I’m frustrated with your dentist. Just telling you about dentures without giving you the dangers and how to prevent them is irresponsible.

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

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.

Am I Doomed to Dentures?

My dentist said that my teeth aren’t worth saving and I should just get dental implants. When he showed me the price tag, I almost had a stroke. I told him there was no way I could afford to get those. He just shrugged and told me it’s that or dentures. I want to cry. Am I really doomed to dentures at 31?

Rebecca L.

Dear Rebecca,

Salem Snap on Denture

I’m a tad concerned that your dentist said that your teeth weren’t worth saving. Most dentists are of the opinion that every tooth is worth saving. You’ll find that saving natural teeth gives you a much better quality of life.

Sometimes teeth can’t be saved, even when you try your best. When that happens, then yes, dental implants are your best option. They’re the closest thing to having your own natural teeth. As you discovered, they are pretty pricey.

While dentures are a more affordable option, many patients hate them because they’re not anchored. At your age, dentures would be disastrous. There’s a condition known as facial collapse that will become an inevitability for you. When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes there is no longer a need for your jawbone to support the roots of your teeth. To that end, it removes the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere in your body where they may be more beneficial. Unfortunately, that means losing jawbone structure. Before long, you won’t have enough jawbone left to retain your dentures.

You may be feeling doomed right now, but there are options. The first one is the most important. I want you to get a second opinion. I can’t imagine, unless you just haven’t taken care of your teeth AT ALL, that at least some of your teeth cannot be saved. The more teeth you save, the better your outcome and the less money you’ll have to spend on replacements. It might be you won’t have to even worry about whether to get dental implants or dentures.

But, let’s plan for the worst. If you get a second opinion and the dentist said there wasn’t a way to save your teeth, don’t despair. It may be possible for you to set up a payment plan with your dentist in order to afford dental implants. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about being doomed to dentures. But, there’s always a possibility that even with the most generous payment plan, it would still be impossible for you.

If that’s the case, a decent option would be to get snap-on dentures. They use as few as two implants which enables you to snap the dentures. While you’re still getting dentures, these have a couple of benefits. First, they’re anchored. You won’t have to worry about them falling out the way traditional dentures do. Second, the areas that have the snaps will not lose jawbone.

You can do snap-on dentures with as few as two, but this allows you to save up until you can get a decent set of dental implants.

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

Dentist Humiliated Me about the Condition of My Teeth?

I’m beyond humiliated. I haven’t been to the dentist in years because of finances. Though, I do try hard to take care of my teeth. I brush twice a day and floss every night. Yet, when I went to the dentist there was a LOT wrong with my teeth. That was bad enough, but when I asked him how I could spread out the treatment because I couldn’t afford everything he suggested he started yelling at me and telling me how irresponsible I’ve been about my teeth. He said if I care that little about them why don’t I just have them all extracted and get dentures. Then I’d not have to do anything for them. Then he stormed out. The office has an open floor plan so everyone in the entire clinic heard him. I was absolutely horrified and left in tears, without even paying because I was too embarrassed to stop. What do I do? Are dentures my only option if I can’t afford to get the work done? I’m only 37. It sounds horrifying to wear dentures at my age.

MaryAnne E.

Dear MaryAnne,

You certainly don’t deserve to be treated the way that dentist treated you, even if you hadn’t been taking care of your teeth, which you’ve obviously tried to do. When you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s normal for you to need a lot of work done. Your dentist should have been happy to list it out for you in staged treatment lists.

Result of dentures

Whatever you do, don’t remove all of your teeth and replace them with dentures, especially at your age. When all your teeth are removed, your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. It’s remarkably efficient the way our body works. The problem comes in about ten or twenty years. You’ll only be in your 40s and you’ll no longer have enough jawbone left to even support dentures. Not to mention your face will take on a squashed appearance making you look two decades older than you are, as you can see from the illustration above.

My suggestion would be to get a second opinion from another dentist; preferably one who’s known for their kind manner to their patients. You can often find that kindness from dentists who work with fearful patients. Many patients with dental anxiety avoid the dentist for years. When they finally come back they don’t want to be judged or lectured. Neither do you.

When you go, have the dentist list out everything that needs to be done in order of importance. It’s important you save as many teeth as possible. Those which can’t be saved, it would be better to replace them with dental implants instead of dentures. These help to retain your jawbone.

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

Is There a Treatment Between Dentures and Dental Implants?

I’m losing my teeth. I was hoping to get dental implants, but after looking into it with more detail, there’s absolutely no way I can afford it. At the same time, I don’t want dentures. I spent too many years watching my grandmother’s dentures slipping out constantly. It totally grossed me out as a child. I don’t want to be that grandma. Is there any chance there’s a treatment that meets in the middle?

Lisa (too young to be gross).

Dear Lisa,

It’s amazing how many times when we’re little we think, “That will never be me!” Then the years pass and we’re shocked to find ourselves squinting and pushing our eye-glasses down to the ends of our noses because someone shrunk all the print in books.

When you have to replace all your teeth it can be distressing. Yes, dental implants are the ideal treatment and I can see why you wanted them. But, their cost sometimes puts it out of reach. You’re also right that dentures have lots of problems. Slipping and sliding is a big one.

Fortunately, there is a middle ground. Snap-on dentures address some of the problems that come with dentures. Obviously, they’re still not as stable as dental implants, but they’re not going to fall out of your mouth without some serious force.

They’re also useful in that they’ll allow you to work your way up to more implants. You can start with as few as two, which is much more affordable and give you time to save up for further implants as you’re able.

Talk to your dentist and I’m sure the two of you can work out a plan to get you stable replacements for your teeth that repair your smile without destroying your bank account.

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

Do I Really Have to Remove ALL My Teeth?

I’m a complete wreck. I haven’t been to the dentist since I was a child. They terrify me. But, I had a horrible toothache so I had to do something. I called around to an emergency dentist and he offered to see me the first thing in the morning. When I got there, I explained my situation and which tooth was hurting me. He offered to check all of them, which I thought was very generous. Then he told me that not just the aching tooth needed to be pulled, but ALL my teeth needed to be pulled. I couldn’t believe it. He said I’d need to get a full set of dentures. I couldn’t believe my ears. He wanted to do it right then, but I refused, except for the tooth which is killing me. Please tell me there’s another solution. I’m still in my 20s. I can’t look like a grandmother yet.

Stacey A.

Dear Stacey,

In your place, I would get a second opinion. I know you don’t have a dentist, but I’m afraid this emergency dentist didn’t do his do diligence. Surely at least a few of your teeth could be saved or you’d be in much more pain than just that one tooth. You’d probably also have a few loose teeth due to gum disease.

Even if on the off-chance none of them can be saved, you’re not condemned to wear dentures. There are much better options in tooth replacement. If you don’t have gum disease, I’d suggest you get dental implants. They’re as close to having your own natural (but healthy) teeth back in your mouth as you can get. If you do have gum disease, get that dealt with and then get the implants. Not only will you not look like a grandmother, but if you go to an expert cosmetic dentist you can receive a stunningly gorgeous smile.

I wanted to take a moment to address your dental fear. There are gentle, kind dentists who work with fearful patients. They have techniques and procedures which can make your appointment very pleasant. Those with the strongest anxiety often find sedation a lovely solution. They can get their teeth worked on while they sleep.

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

I Can’t Eat with Dentures

I’m feeling absolutely desperate. I haven’t eaten properly in weeks. I’m able to get down soup but that’s about it. Ever since I’ve gotten dentures it’s been almost impossible to eat. Food gets underneath them. I don’t chew well. My dentist says I’ll get used to it, but it doesn’t feel that way.  I know I should have gotten dental implants, but I would have needed quite a few and I can’t afford that. Do I have any options?

Mary Anne P.

Mary Anne,

I’m sorry for the difficulty you’ve been having with your dentures. While some patients do adjust, many do not.  Even the best fitting dentures will reduce your chewing capacity by 50%.

Yes, dental implants are ideal, but like you mentioned they can be quite expensive. The good thing about dentures is you can work up to a full set of dental implants.

Hopefully, your dentist gave you all your options. I don’t know if he mentioned snap-on dentures. These use as few as two implants to secure the dentures in place.  This will help with the chewing, not as much as a full set of implants, but it will improve the situation.

In case your dentist neglected to give you all the information, I want to make you aware of something called facial collapse. When your teeth are removed, your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone. After a while, it causes you to lose so much jawbone you can’t even retain your dentures. It also gives your face an aged sunken appearance.

Beginning to get implants, such as with snap-on dentures, helps you prevent that. You can do two implants at a time, preserving at least some of the bone and then gradually save up to a larger amount of implants.

I’m hoping you had all the information at the beginning when you first made your decision. However, you haven’t had your dentures long, so even if you didn’t there’s likely not much damage done.

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

Affordable Tooth Replacements for Patient with Traumatic Brain Injury

My cousin had a traumatic brain injury. I’ve taken over his care while he’s not able to care for himself. I was surprised to discover he hadn’t had dental care in quite some time. I took him in worried what the prognosis would be. Most of his teeth can’t be saved. I don’t have a lot of money, but I don’t want to leave him without teeth. Is there an affordable way to replace teeth?

Benson P. – Seattle

Benson,

It’s great that you’re stepping up to care for your cousin. And, you’re right, he doesn’t need to be left without teeth. It will cause more problems. The ideal tooth replacement is dental implants, but they’re quite pricey. Depending on the severity of his brain injury and his prognosis for quality of life, that may not be your best option anyway. The most affordable replacement option for him will be dentures. Though, they’re not anchored.  If his brain injury is severe you may want to consider anchoring them, even with just mini implants.

However, make sure you work with a dentist who has experience with traumatic brain injuries and patience.  Sometimes their personality changes and not always in the easiest ways to deal with. You want your cousin’s experience to be as pleasant as possible.

With the extractions, he’ll need sedation dentistry. I know you’re trying to save money. Many dentists offer payment plans. I don’t know if you’ve applied for disability for your cousin, but there are resources for you. You’re not on your own, but it wouldn’t hurt to talk with someone who knows the best and fastest way to access those resources.

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