Tag Archives: facial collapse

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.

Will Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants

I am losing my teeth and would like to get dental implants. I think I’m a candidate but wondered if dental insurance will cover it?

Ben

Dear Ben,

Three parts of a dental implant
The three parts of a dental implant

It’s good that you’re looking at dental implants to replace your teeth, especially if you’re talking about replacing all your teeth. While dentures are much less expensive, they have quite a few problems.

Problems with Dentures

  • They’re removable so there will, out of necessity, be times you won’t have teeth.
  • They slip and slide allowing food to get underneath them.
  • No matter how well fitting they are, your chewing capacity is reduced by 50% or more.
  • It causes facial collapse.

Dentures and Facial collapse

A woman's profile twice, one with facial collapse, one after
Wearing Dentures Leads to Facial Collapse

When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes there are no longer any roots of your teeth and concludes you don’t need that bone to secure them. In an effort to be efficient, your body will begin to resorb the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere. This causes your jawbone to slowly shrink. After about 10 or so years, you won’t have enough jawbone left to even retain a denture and they will constantly fall out. This is called facial collapse.

Having dental implants placed will prevent all of the problems faced with dentures. They secure your dentures restoring your ability to chew. Because they’re permanently secured, you’ll never have to go without teeth. Their most important benefit is the prevention of facial collapse. Because you have prosthetic roots placed, your body interprets that as your teeth still being in place and it will leave the minerals in your jawbone alone, keeping it completely intact.

Dental Insurance for Dental Implants

One thing to remember when it comes to any type of insurance is they are a business. The goal of any business is to make money. While many plans will cover a portion of dental implants, it is not likely to be much. They generally only cover the basic replacement for your teeth. That would mean a partial denture or full removable dentures depending on the number of teeth you’re losing.

It sounds like you don’t have insurance yet and are looking for a plan in order to get your implants. One thing to be aware of is many plans will only cover your checkups and cleanings at first and have a certain number of months you have to wait until you can claim any coverage for other services.

Most dentists expect payment in two different stages when it comes to dental implants. The first installment is paid during the surgical portion. The second installment won’t be expected until it is time to get your implant crowns/dentures.

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.

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.

Blade Implant Not Healing?

I don’t know what’s going on. I had a blade implant placed over 12 months ago and it still isn’t healed. Is something wrong or is this normal? Do I just wait it out?

Catherine

Dear Catherine,

Illustration of a dental implant

I’m curious as to why your dentist decided on a blade implant. While they have been in use for many years, there are better options in current practice. It’s generally used for people who don’t have a thick enough jawbone to retain a traditional screw implant but don’t want to do bone grafting.

Unfortunately, while traditional dental implants (pictured above) have a 98% success rate, blade implants only have around a 50% success rate. This should have healed within twelve months. At this point, something is wrong. You need to return to your implant surgeon and have them look and advice you.

Dental Implant Options

A woman's profile twice, one with facial collapse, one after
Wearing Dentures Leads to Facial Collapse

Bone loss in your jaw is usually the result of having missing teeth with no replaced root. For instance, if you removed your teeth but didn’t replace them or replaced them with removable dentures, the minerals in your bone start to resorb into your body. The result not only ages your appearance years, but it will also make you a denture cripple, forced onto a liquid diet the remainder of your days. This is known as facial collapse.

If you want to replace those teeth with an option which provides a prosthetic root, thereby preventing facial collapse, you need to have enough jaw bone. If you don’t, you have two great alternatives to blade implants.

Bone Grafting

This is a simple outpatient procedure which adds bone structure back into your jaw. The biggest benefit to this is it allows you to get screw implants which have a significantly higher success rate to the blade option.

All-on-4 Dental Implants

This doesn’t require grafting. Instead, the all-on-4 implant procedure places the implants at an angle helping them retain with less bone structure.

Cosmetic Considerations with Dental Implants

While it is wonderful to have a full mouth of teeth. If they’re not attractive teeth, you might not smile nearly as much as you would if you were provided with a stunning smile. Whether you are getting all new “teeth” or just a couple of implants, you’ll want a dentist who can make them match your teeth. You don’t want natural teeth next to obviously fake teeth.

One or Two Implants

I recommend before your implant crowns are made, you whiten the rest of your teeth. It’s an inexpensive way to drastically improve the aesthetics of your smile. But, the real reason for doing it before getting your crowns is the permanence of your crown color. Even professional teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure. That means if you get the crowns first and then decide to whiten your teeth, your natural teeth will whiten. Your tooth replacements will not. Doing the whitening first means your implant crowns can be made to match the beautiful new color of your teeth.

A New Smile with Implant Overdentures

If you are getting a new smile with your implants, you want an expert cosmetic dentist to do the work. You are talking about a complete smile makeover made from dental crowns. Finding an expert cosmetic dentist is a lot easier than it used to be. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has an accreditation program which helps patients to know who can give them a stunning smile.

Just go to aacd.com and click on find a dentist. Just make sure you put a check by “accredited dentist”. This way you get a list of those who are experts in their field.

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.

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.