Will I Have to Have Surgery for Dentures?

I’m trying to figure out whether or not to get dentures or dental implants. I hate the idea of surgery so was leaning toward dentures. But, wonder if they require surgery too.

Jack B.

Dear Jack,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

I think when it comes to deciding between two procedures, I’d first look at the long-term effects. Once you know how they’ll affect your quality of life, then you can weigh that against placement procedures.

Dentures Versus Dental Implants

Dentures are a removable tooth replacement option. The top arch stays in by suction. The bottom arch sits on the ridge of your jawbone. They have several “downsides” but I’ll just give the biggest. Once your teeth are removed, your body will reabsorb the minerals once used by your jawbone to help you keep the roots of your teeth in place. Without those minerals, your jawbone will begin to shrink. After a while, you’ll lose so much bone that you won’t have enough to keep in your dentures. This is known as facial collapse because of the way it makes your face look shrunken and prune-like.

Dental Implants are permanent. Prosthetic root forms, either titanium or zirconia, will be surgically implanted into your jawbone. After a period of healing you’ll have dental crowns placed on top. Aside from the obvious benefits of being just like having your natural, healthy teeth back, implants preserve your jawbone. No matter how many years you have them, they’ll protect you from facial collapse.

Surgery for Dentures

While dentures don’t require the same surgery as dental implants, you are talking about a major extraction. You have to extract all your teeth. This, like dental implants, also requires a healing period of 8 weeks or so.

There are two types of dentures you can get that affect the surgery.

Immediate dentures These are placed right after the teeth are extracted, having two benefits. First, you can walk out the office with your new smile intact. Second, it helps reduce the swelling and bleeding that occurs after having a major teeth extraction. The downside is they’re usually more expensive than conventional dentures because they take more time to make. You’re also required to have more follow-up visits, which are necessary to make adjustments.

Conventional Dentures These require you wait for about eight weeks after the extraction procedure for placement. However, they do tend to fit better than immediate dentures. During the healing process, your tissue will shrink and the immediate dentures will become loose. To aid with that, a soft temporary reline material is placed on the denture for refitting. It takes about six months for your month to completely heal after the extractions and at this time a more permanent reline or new denture is needed.

As you can see, either procedure requires extensive work. So, as I mentioned earlier, ask yourself which one has the best quality of life experience after they’re placed. The answer to that is definitely dental implants.

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