Tag Archives: dental implants

Insurance Problems with Dental Implants

I need some help. I want to get dental implants, but can’t seem to get my medical insurance to cover it. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not like being unable to eat is good for my health? Will dental insurance cover them? If not, what do I do? I’ve heard dentures are bad for someone my age (I’m 52) but that may be all I can afford.

Grannie G.

Dear Grannie G.,

before and after side images of a woman suffering from facial collapse
Gentting dentures at the wrong age can lead to facial collapse

We sometimes forget that insurance companies are a business. As such, they want to make money. They’re not really there to think of the best option for the patient. Because dental insurance is available, medical insurance companies won’t cover anything which has to do with your teeth.

Dental insurance plans tend to cover the least expensive option available. For tooth replacement options, that would be dentures. So, you’re more likely to get most or full coverage of dentures, but only partial coverage of dental implants. That leaves you covering most of the bill.

Whoever advised you about the dangers of getting dentures at your age was correct. When your teeth are removed, your body begins resorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere in an effort to be efficient with its resources. This has the unfortunate effect of shrinking your jawbone. Depending on how quickly the resorption takes place, in ten or so years you’ll no longer have enough jawbone left to retain your dentures. This is known in dental circles as facial collapse.

I don’t want you to despair, though, there are ways to afford dental implants.

Affording Dental Implants

Staged Payments

The first thing you should know is payment for the dental implant procedure is usually done in two stages. First, is the surgical stage when the implants are placed. Then, after a period of time designed for both healing and osseointegration to take place.

Once that is done, the second payment is usually made when the implant crowns are designed. This allows you to break up the cost.

For some, even that is too much. Because of that many dentists will work through Care Credit, which allows you to take out a low-interest payment plan in order to get the treatment you need. If you qualify, this company allows you to choose how long you’ll take to repay it, thereby essentially choosing the cost of your payments.

Dental Implant Options

You don’t have to get a one-to-one tooth/implant replacement ratio. It is much more affordable to get implant overdentures which will use four to six implants per arch and then anchor your dentures to them.

If this is still too much money, snap-on dentures are a great option. It will allow you to use as few as two dental implants. It will anchor the denture in that spot and protect the bone where the implants are. This will get you started while allowing you to save up for more implants if you so desire.

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

Are There Soft Dentures?

I’m looking for something to help with my dentures. The way they are on the roof of my mouth hurts. Do they make a soft kind of denture?

Lisa

Dear Lisa,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

There are soft liners for dentures. This is what is typically called a soft denture. However, while they are a tad more comfortable, they have limitations. They’re both more expensive and do not last as long. They are also harder to keep clean.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of a denture that is pliable, which it sounds like you’re asking for. This is because the denture needs a firm frame both to fit right and to help with chewing.

The Solution When Dentures aren’t for You.

I’m going to suggest you switch to implant supported dentures. These won’t require you to have a plate at all. Instead, the dentures are attached to the implants. It is much more secure than removable dentures. You’ll find it will also increase your quality of living, including your chewing capacity.

There’s an even more important benefit. When your teeth were removed, your body began to resorb the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere. It does this because it strives to be efficient and recognizes you no longer have any teeth roots there. The big problem with that is as your minerals leave, your jawbone shrinks. This is known as facial collapse. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone left to even support your dentures.

Having dental implants there, signals to your brain that there are still roots there. leaving your jawbone intact.

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

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.

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.

snap on dentures: a middle ground

I have been struggling with my dentures. Really struggling. I talked to my dentist about it and he suggested dental implants, but the price was way over anything I can afford. I don’t really want to continue with the dentures, but I just don’t like how they move around. I do use adhesive. It helps some. Not a lot. Unfortunately, it also feels kind of gross. Is this just something I’ll have to adjust to or is there another treatment option I’m overlooking?

Diana

Dear Diana,

Salem Snap on Denture
Snap-on Dentures

I hate to hear that patients are left grappling for answers when their dentists should be giving them all their options. And, you do have some options here.

While some people adjust to dentures, others never do. You didn’t mention how long you’ve had your dentures. If they’re fairly new, they shouldn’t be sliding. Your dentist needs to adjust them. Free of charge.

However, if you’ve had them for several years, you could be at the early stages of facial collapse. The longer you wear dentures, the more your jawbone shrinks. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone left to even keep dentures in.

This is why your dentist mentioned dental implants. The implants provide prosthetic tooth roots which your body interprets as you still needing your jawbone, leaving it intact.

Alternatives to 1 to 1 Dental Implants

I don’t know if the price quoted to you for dental implants was a single implant for every missing tooth or for implant overdentures. However, implant overdentures are significantly more affordable.

This uses four to six dental implants on each arch and anchors your dentures to them. They are completely secure and will also prevent facial collapse.

In some cases, even implant overdentures are still out of reach. That’s okay. Everyone has a different budget to work with and dentists should never pressure patients to extend themselves beyond their means.

In those cases, we often recommend snap-on dentures. They are a good starting place. There is a picture of them at the top of this post. It uses just two dental implants. While there is some movement, they will not fall out. The snaps keep them in place.

This also allows you to save up to get more implants at a later date if that is what you desire. It will also protect against bone loss, but just in the areas there are implants.

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

dentures won’t stay in

I ended up having dentures at a very young age. I’m 60 now and have had them for over 30 years. Lately, even with adhesive, it’s becoming impossible to keep them in. Can a dentist fix this?

Miranda

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

This is tough. When your teeth were removed, your body began a resorption process of using the minerals normally needed by your jawbone elsewhere.

It does this because it interprets your missing teeth as you no longer needing these. This process is known in dental circles as facial collapse.

As this happens, your dentures begin to slip. Then, they get to where they start falling out. Eventually, you won’t be able to keep them in at all.

Two Solutions When Dentures Fail

The first thing you’ll need to do is get bone grafting done. This is an outpatient procedure that builds up bone in your jawbone again. Once that is done, you have two main routes to choose from.

  • Have new dentures made. You have a ridge again and will be able to retain dentures again if that is what you like. One thing to consider is you would be facing the same issue again as the cycle of facial collapse starts all over.
  • Get dental implants. This is actually the ideal solution. You can place four to six dental implants into your new jawbone. This signals to your brain you need those minerals and the bone remains intact preventing facial collapse. Then, when the implants are fully integrated, a denture is secured to the implants. This is known as implant overdentures. You’ll never have to worry about them slipping again.

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

Dentist Holding Teeth Hostage

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.

Clarke R.

Dear Clarke,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

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.

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

Does TMJ Require Surgery?

I’ve been having jaw pain. I did some research to find out what it could be and all the online articles point to TMJ. They also say it can require surgery to fix. I’m only 25 but am completely on my own financially. I don’t think there is any way I can afford surgery. Are there other options? Can they give you a med that allows you time to save up for surgery?

Melissa

Dear Melissa,

Chart of TMJ and Neuromuscular Dentistry

We’re jumping the gun here a bit. The first thing you’d want to do is see a dentist to see if you are suffering from TMJ Disorder. Even if you are, surgery isn’t generally the first go to. Your TMJ Dentist will look for the cause of the TMJ pain first, before outlining any treatment plan.

As you can see from the chart above, there are many reasons why you could be in pain. Sometimes it is something other than the joint itself. For instance, your bite could be out of alignment and starting to wear down the temporomandibular joint.

If that’s the case, your dentist will decide if you need a temporary orthotic to shift your bite and align it into proper positioning, or if you need some additional dental work like a dental implant or porcelain crown.

Only in very rare cases is anything like a full-mouth reconstruction or surgery necessary.

The Key to Proper TMJ Treatment

To ensure you get the proper treatment, you need to make sure you are going to an experienced TMJ Dentist. There isn’t a recognized TMJ Specialty, so it is up to the patient to find out what type of qualifications their dentist has to give them the right treatment.

Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist what type of TMJ training they have. Dental school isn’t enough. It must be post-doctoral work. I’m going to suggest you click here to look at Dr. Burba’s TMJ Dentist page in order to know what type of training you should look for.

Bear in mind, a good dentist will recommend the least invasive treatment for this type of situation first.

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

Is it Too Late to Get a Pretty Smile?

I’ve had dentures for years. They have always looked fake but I knew they would be because they were dentures. Last week a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a few years came to town and we had lunch together. Her smile was gorgeous. I couldn’t believe it. She said she got dental implants. I didn’t even know those existed. Is it too late for me to get them?

Mandy

Dear Mandy,

Mature couple smiling
You can have a gorgeous smile that feels good no matter what your age!

It’s never too late for a pretty smile. You should know that, with a great cosmetic dentist, you could have had a beautiful smile with dentures as well. It’s not the procedure in this case. It’s the dentist. However, you can’t change the past.

Dentures or Dental Implants

Truthfully, dental implants are by far the best choice when it comes to replacing their teeth. First, they’re permanently implanted so they’re completely secure. It’s like having healthy, natural teeth back in your mouth. You can eat whatever you want and brush and floss like you do with natural teeth.

They have a more important function, though. You’ve probably noticed your dentures don’t fit the same way they used to when you first received them. That’s because your jaw is shrinking. When your teeth were removed, your body recognized that and started resorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere.

It won’t be long before you won’t be able to keep your dentures in place. This is known as facial collapse. Dental implants prevent that. The prosthetic roots placed into your jawbone tricks your body into thinking your natural teeth are still there and, as a result, leaves your jawbone intact.

If you decide to get dental implants, you’ll likely find you no longer have enough jawbone left to support them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get them. It means you’ll have to have an additional procedure first, called bone grafting.

Bone grafting is a simple, outpatient procedure. This will build up the bone structure so that your jawbone will be able to retain the implants.

Getting Beautiful Results No Matter What Procedure You Choose

As I mentioned above, the most important decision is to find a highly skilled and artistic cosmetic dentist. They can create something stunning that you’ll be proud to share with the world. You’ll never feel like you have an ugly smile again.

The easiest way to find one of those is to go to the website of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (aacd.com). They have a “find a cosmetic dentist” link. However, to get one with the expertise you need, you need to check that you want an accredited dentist, not just a member.

After you find a great cosmetic dentist, see which of them have experience with dental implants. You’ll want one with post-doctoral training in restorative dentistry.

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

Do Dentures Really Make Your Face Shrink?

My mother is losing her teeth. I’ve tried for years to get her to brush but she doesn’t like “how it feels”. Now she needs dentures. Of course, she doesn’t have dental insurance or money so I’m having to pay for her new teeth. I can barely afford these dentures and now the dentist tells me if I get them her face will shrink and instead I should get dental implants. They’re massively more expensive. However, I don’t want to damage my mother’s face. Is he right about the shrinking thing?

Annabelle C.

Dear Annabelle,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

It is truly fantastic how you are looking out for your mother’s best interest, especially given she doesn’t seem to care about taking care of herself. What your dentist referred to with the dentures is known as facial collapse.

How it works is once your mother’s teeth are removed, her body will begin to resorb the minerals in her jawbone to use elsewhere. This is because her brain senses she no longer has teeth and assumes she doesn’t need the jawbone. It’s remarkably efficient. If only our government knew how to distribute resources where they’re actually needed.

The problem is after ten to twenty years, there’s very little jawbone left, which gives her face a squashed, older appearance. Additionally, it makes it impossible for her to keep her dentures in. He’s suggesting dental implants because the implants serve as teeth roots, which lets your brain know that jawbone is still a necessity. This prevents facial collapse.

Should Your Mother Get Dentures?

While dental implants are the better treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right treatment for your mother. I’m not just talking about the expense. My guess is your mother lost her teeth because of gum disease. If that’s the case, she’s not yet a candidate for implants. Gum disease causes tooth loss. It will also do the same to her dental implants.

Right now, dentures are the best thing for her. If you can convince her to take care of her oral health and get her gum disease thoroughly healed, then you can re-evaluate. However, there’s no point it getting an expensive procedure that will be guaranteed to fail.

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