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?
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.
I’m in a pickle. I’m losing my teeth. I know it’s my fault, but that doesn’t actually change my predicament. I need to replace them and asked for dentures because of cost. My dentist said he only placed dental implants and won’t give me dentures because of my age. I feel like my teeth are being held hostage by my dentist. Please tell me I’ll have alternatives.
While every dentist has the right to their practices treatment philosophy, I think this is unfair. Not everyone can afford the ideal. Instead, give patients their options. Tell them the pros and cons of their decision. Then, let them decide.
I will say one thing to your dentist’s credit, if you’re middle-aged or younger, he’s trying to save you from a devastating fate later. Once your teeth are removed, you body will begin reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. It does this because there are no longer any teeth roots and it perceives that as you not needing as much jawbone anymore.
The problem with this is your jaw begins to shrink. Your dentures just rest on the ridge of your jawbone, so after ten years or so there is no longer enough jawbone left to keep your dentures in. This is known as facial collapse and can derail your health. Without an ability to retain your dentures, you’ll be on a liquid diet.
Options to Complete Removable Dentures
Ideally, you’d get what’s known as implant overdentures. This allows you to anchor your dentures with about 4-6 dental implants per arch. There are quite a few benefits to this. No matter how well-fitted your dentures are, you lose about
50% of your chewing capacity. Having securely anchored dentures, gives you a normal chewing capacity again.
In addition to that, you no longer have to worry about them slipping or sliding. However, the biggest benefit is the prevention of the facial collapse I mentioned above. The implants serve as prosthetic tooth roots. This signals to your body that those minerals are still necessary.
However, I do realize not everyone can afford this option. In that case, my suggestion would be to get snap-on dentures. This allows you to get as few as two implants, which is much more affordable. It will keep your dentures from falling out and will preserve the bone near those two implants. As you can afford it, it will be incredibly beneficial for you to add implants.
It seems like every single time I go for a checkup and cleaning my dentist finds several things wrong. Then, I spend the next few months fixing them. All my money goes to my dentist. Can I just extract them and get dentures so I can use my money on things I want?
I understand your frustration. However, I’m going to warn you that this decision, if you follow through with it, can ruin your life. Here is why. It sounds like you’re still pretty young. Unless you’re in your eighties, I wouldn’t recommend dentures. Instead, I’d recommend dental implants to prevent you from losing your jawbone.
When your teeth are removed, your body reabsorbs the minerals in your jawbone to distribute elsewhere throughout your body, where it deems it more needed. This slowly shrinks your jawbone. After about ten years or so, you no longer have enough jawbone left to retain a denture. This is known as facial collapse.
So, unless you plan on going on a liquid diet in about ten years for the remainder of your life in about ten years, you need a better plan.
Alternatives to Removable Dentures
If you’re determined to remove your teeth, the ideal solution is a to get dental implants. You can see one in the illustration above. This is a surgical procedure which puts prosthetic tooth roots in your jawbone, using either titanium or zirconia. Then, after a healing time, you can have dental crowns put on top, or in your case, you’d have a set of dentures anchored to them. This protects you from facial collapse. It also avoids all the other problems that come with dentures.
However, dental implants, especially the amount you need, is going to cost you way more money then if you just really bore down and had your teeth fixed.
Another alternative is to get snap-on dentures. These just use two implants and your dentures snap on to them. They’re not as stable as implant overdentures, but it will keep them in your mouth.
Truthfully, though I’m sure this isn’t what you want to hear, your best solution is finding out why your teeth are struggling so much. Go over your oral hygiene routine with your dentist to see if you’re missing any important steps. Also, until your teeth are back up to snuff, you can request to have a prescription fluoride to take home and use in order to give them some extra protection.
If you can get your decay under control, you’ll save a lot more money and have a much higher quality of life than if you simply extracted and replaced your troublesome teeth.
I’ve had my dentures for a long time. Don’t ask my age. It’s rude. However, I do need advice. Regardless of how old I am, I don’t enjoy being humiliated by having my dentures fall out when I’m in public. So, be a nice young man and tell me how to fix this disaster. I’m almost scared to open my mouth. If you knew how much I loved talking you’d feel very sorry for me right now.
What’s happening to you is a result of how long you’ve had your dentures. I certainly hope your dentist warned you about the problems with long-term dentures, but based on your question I don’t think he did.
When your teeth were removed, your body began reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere. After 10-20 years, there’s not enough jawbone to keep your dentures secure. This is known as facial collapse and the reason yours keep falling out.
Snap-On Dentures Could Be Your Solution
To solve this will take a couple of steps. The first thing you need is to build back up that lost jawbone. A simple outpatient bone grafting procedure can do that for you. Once you’re healed from that you have a few choices. I would never dare ask your age, but it will have an effect on which you choose.
The cheapest solution is to have new dentures made, but remember in a period of time, you’ll face the same issue of a shrunken jaw.
If you want the top-of-the-line tooth replacement option, then I’d get implant supported dentures. These attach your newly made dentures to dental implants. They will last a lifetime and prevent you from any further bone loss. The only drawback is the expense. They come with a hefty price tag.
In between those two treatments, is something called snap-on dentures. I’ve posted a picture of them right after your question. These use just two implants that will snap on to your dentures. They’re not as secure as a full set of implants would be, but they will keep your dentures in.
If you want to, you can add more implants as you’re able.
I’ve had dentures for 20 years. I’ve never liked them and have been quite embarrassed about my smile ever since. I now mostly smile with my lips closed. But, things have been getting quite worse. Lately, they’ve been painful and difficult to keep in. They’ve even fallen out once while I was in public. Talk about humiliating. This likely means I need a new pair of dentures. Since there have been 20 years of developments in dentistry, I’m hoping that means dentures can be made pretty now? Pretty please tell me that’s the case.
I hate hearing stories like yours. It saddens me to know you’ve spent this much time ashamed of your smile. You’re right that there have been improvements in the dental field. In fact, there’ve been remarkable improvements. I’ll share several of them in a moment. First, I want you to know that you can definitely have a gorgeous smile, even with dentures. You could have when you first received dentures, too, had your dentist been skilled in the cosmetic end of dental care.
Let’s start with the beauty of dentures. Even back when you received your dentures, a skilled, artistic cosmetic dentist could have prepared a stunning set of dentures for you where you’d be thrilled to share your smile with the world. However, now you have a second chance to get that gorgeous smile.
Fixing Your Denture Problems
The reason your dentures no longer fit properly and are falling out is a condition known as facial collapse. It’s a result of the length of time your teeth have been removed. You can learn more about this on our problems with dentures page. The end result, however, is you no longer have enough jawbone to support any form of tooth replacement, including dentures.
All is not lost, though. The first thing you’ll need to do is have some bone grafting done. This is a relatively simple procedure (if the dentist knows what they’re doing) which can build back up the jawbone that you’ve lost. It can be done in one appointment, but you will need some healing time afterward for the bone to be secure.
After that, you have several options:
Get New Dentures Made
Obviously, the first solution is to just have new dentures made. If you want them to be beautiful, though, you’ll need to go to a skilled cosmetic dentist. There isn’t really a cosmetic dentist specialty, so any general dentist can perform cosmetic procedures. The problem with that is their results vary. So, you need to do some research to determine if this is a skilled artistic dentist or not.
The absolute easiest way to do that is to simply go to an AACD accredited dentist. The AACD is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Their accreditation program is designed to weed out the pretenders from the truly artistic cosmetic dentists. If a dentist has reached accreditation level with the AACD, you can be assured you’ll get a beautiful smile.
You do need to be aware, though, is if all you do is get dentures again, you’ll still face your jawbone shrinking and have to go through this whole procedure all over again in about 10 to 20 years.
Get Dental Implants
The best way to prevent dealing with facial collapse after you’ve had your bone structure repaired is to get dental implants instead of dentures. These implant prosthetic roots into your jawbone causing your body to realize there is still a need to support your teeth, which leaves your jawbone completely intact. However, some people find dental implants out of their budget. Fortunately, there is a middle ground.
Get Snap-on Dentures
These are dentures which are supported by dental implants. They’re considerably more affordable than a full set of implants and can help your dentures stay in place. Obviously, the more implants the better the support, but you can get them with as few as two. Then, as you’re able, you can add more implants to secure them further and protect additional bone.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.