Tag Archives: problems with dentures

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.

My Husband’s Dentures Hurt

I don’t know what to do for my poor husband. He had to get dentures because he lost his teeth, but he absolutely cannot wear them. They hurt. The dentist keeps telling us he’ll adjust to them but he hasn’t. Now it’s getting impossible for him. Is there any way to help him?

Lena

Dear Lena,

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

It’s a shame your dentist hasn’t been more helpful to you. It doesn’t sound like he’s even tried to make any adjustments on your husband’s dentures. That’s the first thing I’d do. However, from what you’ve said, it sounds like you’ll need to see a different dentist to do it. One who is compassionate about his patients. Sometimes, all it takes is some small adjustments and all that pain goes away.

You should be aware, while many patients do fine with dentures. Others spend a lifetime hating them. I don’t know where your husband will fall in that spectrum. Do you know if your dentist told him about options before giving him dentures? Technically, he’s obligated to present all options, but I’m not feeling complete confidence in the thoroughness of your dentist at the moment.

A Helpful Option to Dentures

If adjustments don’t help him, you may have him look into switching to implant overdentures. These anchor his dentures to a series of dental implants, usually four or six. Aside from him never having to deal with the friction of dentures. They’re perfectly secure.

They have a more important function as well. With each passing year, your husband’s jawbone is shrinking. The reason for that is the loss of his teeth roots. When his extractions took place his body recognizes he no longer needs the bone support for his teeth, so it resorbs the minerals from the jawbone to use elsewhere in his body. This leads to a condition known as facial collapse. Eventually, he’ll have so little bone left he won’t have a way to keep his dentures in.

Having implants placed will help his body to understand that bone is still necessary. That will completely save him from losing his jaw bone and giving him a lifetime of healthy tooth replacements. They’ll look and function just like his natural teeth did when they were healthy.

There are other options as well. The key for you guys is finding a dentist which you believe in and can trust. Then ask him to give you all your options.

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

Tired of Dealing with Dentist. Can I Get Dentures Instead?

It seems like every single time I go for a checkup and cleaning my dentist finds several things wrong. Then, I spend the next few months fixing them. All my money goes to my dentist. Can I just extract them and get dentures so I can use my money on things I want?

Dan

Dear Dan,

An illustration of both a denture and a dental implant

I understand your frustration. However, I’m going to warn you that this decision, if you follow through with it, can ruin your life. Here is why. It sounds like you’re still pretty young. Unless you’re in your eighties, I wouldn’t recommend dentures. Instead, I’d recommend dental implants to prevent you from losing your jawbone.

When your teeth are removed, your body reabsorbs the minerals in your jawbone to distribute elsewhere throughout your body, where it deems it more needed. This slowly shrinks your jawbone. After about ten years or so, you no longer have enough jawbone left to retain a denture. This is known as facial collapse.
So, unless you plan on going on a liquid diet in about ten years for the remainder of your life in about ten years, you need a better plan.

Alternatives to Removable Dentures

If you’re determined to remove your teeth, the ideal solution is a to get dental implants. You can see one in the illustration above. This is a surgical procedure which puts prosthetic tooth roots in your jawbone, using either titanium or zirconia. Then, after a healing time, you can have dental crowns put on top, or in your case, you’d have a set of dentures anchored to them. This protects you from facial collapse. It also avoids all the other problems that come with dentures.

However, dental implants, especially the amount you need, is going to cost you way more money then if you just really bore down and had your teeth fixed.

Another alternative is to get snap-on dentures. These just use two implants and your dentures snap on to them. They’re not as stable as implant overdentures, but it will keep them in your mouth.

Truthfully, though I’m sure this isn’t what you want to hear, your best solution is finding out why your teeth are struggling so much. Go over your oral hygiene routine with your dentist to see if you’re missing any important steps. Also, until your teeth are back up to snuff, you can request to have a prescription fluoride to take home and use in order to give them some extra protection.

If you can get your decay under control, you’ll save a lot more money and have a much higher quality of life than if you simply extracted and replaced your troublesome teeth.

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

What Can Keep My Dentures In?

I’ve had my dentures for a long time. Don’t ask my age. It’s rude. However, I do need advice. Regardless of how old I am, I don’t enjoy being humiliated by having my dentures fall out when I’m in public. So, be a nice young man and tell me how to fix this disaster. I’m almost scared to open my mouth. If you knew how much I loved talking you’d feel very sorry for me right now.

Eleanor

Dear Eleanor,

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

What’s happening to you is a result of how long you’ve had your dentures. I certainly hope your dentist warned you about the problems with long-term dentures, but based on your question I don’t think he did.

When your teeth were removed, your body began reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere. After 10-20 years, there’s not enough jawbone to keep your dentures secure. This is known as facial collapse and the reason yours keep falling out.

Snap-On Dentures Could Be Your Solution

To solve this will take a couple of steps. The first thing you need is to build back up that lost jawbone. A simple outpatient bone grafting procedure can do that for you. Once you’re healed from that you have a few choices. I would never dare ask your age, but it will have an effect on which you choose.

The cheapest solution is to have new dentures made, but remember in a period of time, you’ll face the same issue of a shrunken jaw.

If you want the top-of-the-line tooth replacement option, then I’d get implant supported dentures. These attach your newly made dentures to dental implants. They will last a lifetime and prevent you from any further bone loss. The only drawback is the expense. They come with a hefty price tag.

In between those two treatments, is something called snap-on dentures. I’ve posted a picture of them right after your question. These use just two implants that will snap on to your dentures. They’re not as secure as a full set of implants would be, but they will keep your dentures in.

If you want to, you can add more implants as you’re able.

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

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.

Options to Dentures or Dental Implants?

I’m having every tooth extracted. It’s a long story I won’t go into as to how this happened. I’m looking for options now. My dentist wants me to get a dental implant on every tooth. Even if I owned a house (which I don’t). I’d have to sell it to pay the cost of something like that. He said if I didn’t do that I’d have to get dentures. I don’t want that either. Isn’t there a middle ground?

Darren L.

Dear Darren,

An image of a snap-on denture
Snap-on Denture

Absolutely there’s a middle ground. There’s also varying degrees of ground. I’m personally appalled that your dentist gave you only those two options. That’s like telling a potential homebuyer they either purchase the multi-million dollar mansion or they’ll have to like in a decrepit shack with no power. Ethically, he’s supposed to inform you of all your options.

First of all, you can get dental implants without having an implant placed at every tooth. In fact, only the richest of clients could afford something like that. When all your teeth are missing, patients normally get implant supported dentures. It utilizes a dental implant, but they’re anchored to your jaw with implants. Obviously, the more dental implants you have placed, the more secure they’ll be. However, you can get them with as few as two.

These are generally called snap-on dentures. They help keep the denture from slipping out. It also preserves your bone where the two implants are placed. That’s very important. In fact, the more implants you have placed, the more you’ll prevent the facial collapse that comes with jawbone shrinkage, one of the biggest problems with dentures.

How Dental Implants Prevent Facial Collapse

When you remove your teeth, your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. It’s remarkably efficient, but devastating to the use of dentures. Eventually, your jawbone shrinks to the point where there’s no way to keep the dentures in.

Every implant placed, including those from snap-on dentures, retain the minerals in each place there are implants. That’s because your body recognizes the implant as a tooth root and knows you need the jawbone intact in that area.

This is one of the reasons I’m frustrated with your dentist. Just telling you about dentures without giving you the dangers and how to prevent them is irresponsible.

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.