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Denture patients can benefit greatly from dental implants.  Denture patients have not only lost teeth but bone and soft tissue as well. This is referred to as facial atrophy.  Dentures replace teeth, bone, soft tissue and hard tissue.  That is a lot to ask a piece of acrylic, a set of denture teeth, (resting on oral tissues that were never intended to support them) to do.  It is a testament to a patient’s ability to adapt for a patient to wear a set of dentures successfully.

Implants can be used in two ways to aid denture patients. First, they can be used stabilize a denture.  Notice I did not say hold it in place. This is typically done with only a few implants and a retainer/clip that is in the denture and snaps onto the implant.  Sometimes a bar and clips can be used to gain more stability.  Essentially, the denture is tissue born and implant stabilized.  For many patients this is all that is required, for others it is still not enough to allow them to eat and speak with comfort and confidence.  This is something that only your dentist and you can decide upon after considering all the possible alternatives.  There is one other consideration regarding implants and utilizing them for denture patients and that is whether or not enough bone and the correct type of soft tissue is present to place implants.  This can be overcome sometimes with grafting procedures by the oral surgeon ahead of time. This is why implant therapy is such a team oriented treatment approach.  It takes a skilled restorative dentist and a skilled surgeon to meet the patient’s expectations.  These expectations must be crystal clear for the patient, to the restorative dentist and to the oral surgeon; otherwise the implant/prosthetic therapy will result in a failure to please the patient 

Secondly, in some cases if enough bone is present implants can be used to support a fixed restoration for the entire arch that is not removable.  The restoration is screwed to place and can not be removed by the patient. The restoration does not rest on the gums at all, so there are no denture irritations or movement of the restoration; it is fixed in place like real teeth.  Patients often say this type of restoration feels almost like real teeth. The same caveats apply: there must be sufficient bone and tissue to place the implants into.

Which type of restoration is best for a particular patient needs to be discussed between the patient, dentist and oral surgeon.  Implants offer such a great advantage for denture wearers I can not stress how much they can improve the quality of life for a denture patient.  If you are interested in a consultation regarding new dentures or implant stabilized dentures or even implant retained teeth give our office a call; I would be happy to consult with you about how implants can be a benefit to you.  

These are some commonly asked questions:

Do Implants Hurt? 
Implants themselves are painless when they are integrated into the bone.  The procedure to place the implants may involve some pain afterwards.  The surgeon will provide you with adequate pain medication to control any discomfort you may experience.
What is an Implant?
An implant is a titanium or titanium alloy root form fixture.  The implant fixture is placed in the jaw bone to replace teeth or stabilize a partial or full denture.
How Long do Implants Last?
Implants of the type placed currently have been used in the since 1984 and their success rate is above 95%.  The average bridge or crown lasts seven to fifteen years.  Implants are highly successful and can last a lifetime.
What do Implants Feel Like?
Patients with implants replacing teeth report that  their implant crowns feel just  like their natural teeth.
Can I get a Cavity Around My Implant or Implant Crown? 
Cavities can not form on an implant.  If good oral hygiene is not exercised around an implant gum disease can occur and cause the loss of an implant.
How Long Does It Take Before I get My Tooth or Teeth?
The time it takes to complete the final crown or denture appliance can vary significantly from as soon as three months to as long as a year.  It all depends on the procedures involved to place the implant and the time it takes to fabricate the crown or restoration.  Crown restorations are simple implant restorations.  Restorations involving multiple implants replacing multiple teeth take much longer.
Am I Too Old For Implants?

Age does not play a role in the successful integration of an implant.  Older patients can significantly improve the quality of their life by having implants placed so that eating a meal can be enjoyed again with out discomfort.
I’ve had dentures for years, can I get implants?
Certainly!  Often if there is enough bone remaining, “Long-Time” denture wearer’s can benefit the most from an implant therapy treatment plan.  It can be as simple as two implants in the lower arch with clips to help hold the denture in place to restoring an arch with a fixed, non-removable prosthesis.  It all depends on the patient’s desires and available bone and anatomy.
Is there anything that can be done to make my dentures look more like real teeth?
Certainly!  Dentures can be made to look very natural.  Denture patients have been left behind when it comes to the cosmetic dentistry boom and this is a shame.  Many new brands of denture teeth have come out that look VERY natural.  With a skilled clinician and the help of a willing patient, a pleasing natural result can be achieved.
How often do I need to get my dentures relined?
On average dentures need to be relined about every two to three years.  This can vary from patient to patient significantly and must be evaluated by your dentist.  Continuing to wear a set of poor fitting dentures accelerates bone atrophy and results in insuring a poorer prognosis for a new set of dentures.  It is important for denture patients to be seen on a yearly basis by their dentist for an oral cancer exam and to evaluate the fit of their dentures.
How often do I need new dentures?
This is a difficult question.  Essentially, if the denture has been relined a time or two, the denture teeth themselves have worn out or are chipped, it is likely time for a new set of dentures.  Another good reason to get a new set of dentures is if you do not like the appearance of your existing dentures. New dentures can be made to look very natural.
Can implants eliminate the need for my partial denture?
Yes.  Implants can be used to replace individual teeth, thus eliminating the need for a partial.   Once again, it all depends on the available bone and anatomy if one is a candidate for implant therapy.  That is why a consult with your dentist and oral surgeon is vital in planning your implant therapy.
My new dentures don’t feel like my old dentures, how come?
There can be a number of reasons your new dentures do not feel like your old dentures.  The analogy of the new shoes don’t feel like my old shoes applies, but does not explain the various reasons the new dentures feel different.  Your cheek and tongue are very sensitive to new contours and textures and this sensitivity plays a significant role in the strange feeling of your new dentures.  New dentures will invariably need to be adjusted to relieve sore spots.  If the look of the denture was changed this will significantly change the feel of new dentures as teeth will be in different positions and the teeth used may be completely different in texture and contour.  You will likely have to learn to chew differently with your new dentures.  Even if your dentist tried to duplicate your old dentures you will still feel the new dentures are different from the old dentures.  Take heart, your mouth is amazingly adaptable.  In a matter of weeks your new dentures will feel just a comfortable as your old dentures once did, but it takes patience and communication with your dentist to achieve your goal.
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