Tag Archives: alternatives to dentures

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.

Is There a Dentures Support Group?

Please help me. I feel so foolish. It’s bad enough losing your teeth. But, being poor and losing your teeth is the absolute worst. I couldn’t afford to get dental implants, and yes, I know they’re better. I’m just stuck with dentures. I absolutely hate them. I don’t know if there’s a group or something which talks about how they deal with dentures, but I really need one.

Carolyn

Dear Carolyn,

An image of a snap-on denture
Snap-on Dentures will keep them secure

I’m not aware of a denture support group, but it sounds like a good idea. You might even be able to start one at your local dentist’s practice. I say that with confidence because you’re not alone in your feelings. Many people struggle with dentures.

Common Struggles with Dentures

One of the biggest complaints is it’s much more difficult to eat food. Many times that can be improved with a better fit of your dentures. However, there are limitations. Even the best fitting dentures still reduce your chewing capacity by 50%. Cutting your chewing capacity in half is a huge drop in quality of life.

Another problem is they slip and slide. Removable dentures are, by their very title, removable. Because there’s nothing anchoring them there, they will move. This will happen more and more as your jawbone shrinks, which is a devastating side effect of dentures known as facial collapse. Eventually, you won’t be able to keep them in at all.

I realize I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know and you want solutions, so let’s move on.

A Snap-on Dentures Solution

Without having the money for dental implants, most patients feel hopeless, like they’re trapped. However, there is a sort of “part way” procedure that will help a little.

Generally, when you’re talking about implant supported dentures, you’ll need about six for each arch. However, with snap-on dentures, you can get as few as two. This can make a world of difference.

Benefits of Snap-on Dentures

The most obvious benefit is they cannot fall out. The implants anchor the dentures to your mouth securing them so you’ll never have to worry about embarrassing public slips.

They’ll help you retain your jawbone where the implants were placed.

They give you a stop gap while you work toward more implants. Obviously, the more implants you have the better, but starting with two gives you hope, a bit of relief, and a place to start.

Our life circumstances change all the time, and there may come a time you can afford to get more implants. This also allows you to save up a bit at a time and you can add two implants in stages as you’re able, until you have the security and chewing capacity you want.

This blog is brought to you by Salem Dentist 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.