I have had dentures for eleven years. I recently asked my dentist if I can get dental implants instead. She said if I wanted dental implants I would have needed to do that at the beginning. I’m so discouraged. First, she never offered me dental implants as an option when I first lost my teeth. Second, my dentures are becoming quite annoying. Is there no way to get dental implants after dentures?
The short answer is yes you can get dental implants after dentures. However, there are some caveats depending on how long you’ve been in dentures. We will get to those in a moment. So why did your dentist say you couldn’t? There are a couple of possibilities. The first is she doesn’t know how to do dental implants and rather than say that she is steering you away from the procedure. That may be why she didn’t mention them to you when you first lost your teeth. I am not excusing her. A dentist should always give their patients every option whether they can offer it or not.
A second possibility has to do with the caveat I mentioned earlier. You have been in dentures long enough for facial collapse to kick in. This is also why your dentures are becoming annoying to you. When your teeth were first removed, your body recognizes there are no longer any roots of your teeth in your jawbone. It interprets this as you no longer need that jawbone to help retain the roots.
In an effort to be efficient with your body’s resources it will resorb the minerals in your jawbone in order to use them in places it perceives they will be more useful. This has the unfortunate result of slowly shrinking your jawbone. Eventually, it will shrink so much that you’ll no longer have enough left to retain your dentures. This is known as facial collapse. You will see an example of this in the image above.
Facial Collapse and Dental Implants
So, how does that affect dental implants? As your jawbone is what helps retain your teeth, it is also necessary to retain your dental implants. Without enough bone structure, your dental implants will fail. This may be why she was saying it was too late for you to get dental implants. However, there are ways to rectify this.
You have two options to solve this issue.
- All-on-Four Dental Implants
This is possible for patients who haven’t lost too much bone structure. it angles the implants in a way that you won’t need to have as much bone structure. The one real downside to this is it is a unit. If one implant fails, the whole thing has to be re-done.
- Bone Grafting
This is useful no matter how much bone you’ve lost, though it does require you have this procedure done before you start your dental implant procedure. A dentist or oral surgeon can graft either synthetic or natural bone onto your jawbone in order to build that missing structure back up. Once that is healed, you can get the dental implants you are hoping for.
The Biggest Benefit of Dental Implants
Because the implants themselves serve as prosthetic tooth roots, your brain interprets that as your teeth still being in place. This means it will not resorb the minerals in your jawbone and will leave it completely intact. You will not have to worry about facial collapse.
This blog is brought to you by Kalamazoo Dentist Dr. Susan Dennis.