Tag Archives: dental implants

Straightening Teeth with a Missing Teeth

I never had braces as a child. It’s always bothered me. I want to do something about it now that I’m an adult. I keep hearing about invisible braces, which sounds much better to me than those silver ones all my friends in middle-school wore. The one thing that worries me is I have two congenitally missing mandibular bicuspids. Do I need to get dental implants for those spots?

Katherine

Dear Katherine,

A woman putting in her Invisalign aligners in two stacked images

Invisible braces could refer to one of three things. First, they could be referring to the clear braces you can get these days. They still go on your teeth like the traditional metal wire and bracket braces, but it uses a less visible material.

A second possibility is lingual braces. These are also the traditional type of braces bonded to your teeth, but they are placed behind your teeth where no one can see them. Many child stars have worn these when they’re in the middle of filming a series where they didn’t (or couldn’t in the case of a historical series) want the character to have braces. They’re useful for straightening in secret, but they have a couple of drawbacks.

They can be uncomfortable on your tongue which will bump up against them quite a bit. Braces make oral hygiene trickier because of all the materials you have to get around and the food that continually gets trapped in them. Lingual braces are even harder to keep clean because of their location. You could end up with a lot of unnecessary decay if you don’t stay on top of your tooth care.

Invisalign — Your Best Invisible Braces Option

While both of the above options could be considered “invisible braces”, there’s a much better option. Invisalign, though not technically braces, is an orthodontic system which straightens your teeth in significantly less time than traditional braces. These use clear aligners (think teeth whitening trays) instead of wires and brackets. Even at a conversational distance, people will not be able to tell you’re wearing them.

Because you’re talking about your lower bicuspids, it’s not necessary to get dental implants. Invisalign will close the spaces in your lower arch. Though, if you wanted to, you certainly could get implants placed where you’re missing teeth are. To do that, however, you’d need to work with an experienced implant dentist who also understands orthodontics. This way your work can be done in such a way as to preserve the needed space for the implant.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba. Check out his smile gallery.

Are Pretty Dentures Possible After 20 Years?

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.

Alexandra M.

Dear Alexandra,

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

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

DenturesObviously, 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

Illustration of a dental implantThe 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

Salem Snap on DentureThese 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 hope this helps with your situation.

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

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.

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.

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.

Can I Wait Before Getting a Filling?

My dentist told me today that I need two fililings. I spent most of what I had available for the dentist today.  Can I wait before getting them filled or will that cause problems? I just don’t know where I’ll find the money.

Percy M.

Dear Percy,

Mosts dentists understand that medical and dental care can be expensive. Generally, they’re willing to work with you to pay out the services. So, if the only thing holding you back is money, I bet just a simple phone call explaining your situation will help. Most offices have payment plans and will help you.

As far as how long you can wait, it really depends. Some cavities are in their early stages and you can wait a month or possibly even longer before it breaks through the enamel. Others are deeper and close to breaking through the dentin already.

You don’t want it getting to the dentin. That can blow up quickly and become a dental emergency situation. That can end up costing you a lot more money than getting the cavities covered.

For some people, there’s more to them avoiding dental care than finances (though I’m definitely not minimizing the impact of finances).  Many patients also struggle with dental anxiety.  If that is an additional concern of yours, you may want to look into a dentist who works with fearful patients. Depending on the level of your anxiety, you may be interested in sedation. But, it’s not always necessary with the right dentist.

What you don’t want to do is put it off so long where the only solution is to extract the tooth. Then you’re stuck researching tooth replacement options.

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.