Category Archives: Dental Implants

Am I Too Old for Dental Implants?

I had my teeth replaced years ago with dentures. I don’t think dental implants existed back then, or at least he never mentioned them to me. They haven’t been the best thing in my life. They were ugly, looking almost wooden, but served their purpose so I put up with them. Now they’re no longer serving me well. In fact, I’m having a hard time even keeping them in. My face is kind of mashing around them. Am I too old to get dental implants? If so, what are my options?

Evelyn S.

Dear Evelyn,

A face damaged from facial collapse.
Without dental implants you risk facial collapse.

Your situation is not uncommon, though remarkably unpleasant for you. I’m sorry you’re facing this right now. Life is stressful enough without trials that make even the simplest of tasks like smiling and eating challenging.

What’s happening to you is known as facial collapse. It’s the result of wearing dentures for a certain period of years. Here’s what happens. When your teeth were removed, your body began reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use throughout your body. It does that for the sake of efficiency, recognizing that you no longer have tooth roots so the minerals are more useful elsewhere. Of course, your body doesn’t know about the technology available and that you might still want those minerals to keep in your dentures.

Your jawbone shrinks as the minerals move on to better pastures, making it impossible for you to keep in your dentures any longer. It’s also what’s causing the mashed up look around your mouth, aging your appearance, as you can see from the picture above.

Dental Implants: The Solution for Facial Collapse

Your age isn’t a factor in dental implants as much as the state of your health. In order to go through the implant surgery, you’d need to be in good general health. If that’s the case, the next step would be to evaluate your bone strength both making sure you have enough bone to retain the implants and it’s strong.

Without that, your implants wouldn’t be able to stay in your mouth, leading to dental implant failure. There is a solution, fortunately. Bone grafting is a great procedure and has advanced to the point where they can do it in one day, outpatient. This builds up the necessary bone in your jaw so you have enough for the implants. Because of how long you’ve been wearing your dentures, you’ll definitely need to have bone grafting done.

You brought up the issue of your denture’s appearance being obviously unnatural. That’s not because they’re dentures. That’s because of the quality of your dentist and his skill level in cosmetic work. Dentures, done by an artistic cosmetic dentist can not only look natural but look absolutely stunning. It’s like getting a total smile makeover with porcelain veneers.

So, in order for your smile to end up attractive, you’re going to want to be certain your dentist has expertise in both dental implants AND cosmetic dentistry. For the implants, ask them about their post-graduate training. Also ask them about their success rate. It should run about 98%. For the cosmetic end. Look on the mynewsmile.com website. They have a tool to help patients locate skilled, artistic cosmetic dentists by location.

A dentist cannot purchase their way onto the site. Instead, they have to demonstrate their technical skill and show cases they’ve performed themselves showing they have the artistry necessary to give you a beautiful smile.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Can You Switch to Dental Implants After Getting Dentures?

I’ve had dentures for a bit. I kept thinking I’d get used to them because my dentist kept saying I would. However, I haven’t been able to. The worst part is eating. Not only does food get under the dentures but I haven’t been able to eat well since getting them. I’m hoping it’s not too late to switch to dental implants. What do you think?

Franny M.

Dear Franny,

Naperville Dental Implants
While some people do adjust to dentures, many patients don’t. The problems you mentioned are common to all dentures, no matter how well made they are. In fact, even the best-made dentures still cause you to lose 50% of your chewing capacity. Switching to dental implants is a fantastic idea, if you’re a good candidate.

If you haven’t had dentures for very long, then you likely can just meet with an implant dentist and get started on the new treatment procedure. If, however, you’ve had dentures for many years, it’s possible you’ll need bone grafting first.

Once you remove your teeth, your body recognizes you no longer have tooth roots in your jawbone which need support. Because your body is extremely efficient, it redistributes those minerals that support the roots of your teeth to use elsewhere. Unfortunately, that means your jawbone will begin to shrink. After a decade or so, you’ll no longer have enough jawbone left to even support your dentures. This is known as facial collapse.

If you’ve faced this, it could still be possible to switch to dental implants, but you’ll have to have some bone grafted in to build up support material again. That procedure, through advancements, is becoming easier and easier.

It’s important you go to a dentist who’s highly skilled in dental implants. It’s a complicated procedure. For instance, a dentist who’s studied at the Dawson Academy for Advanced Dental Studies or the Las Vegas Institute would both likely be good candidates. Dr. Newkirk is on the faculty of Dawson Academy and enjoys training dentists to excel at their job.

You’d also want to know how many dental implant procedures they’ve performed and what percentages of those are successful. This is important. You’re not being difficult by asking.

Two other things to consider are the cosmetic skill of the dentist. You want the implant crowns to look both natural and beautiful. It’s hard for patients to know ahead of time which dentists are artistic and which aren’t. I’d recommend checking with mynewsmile.com. You can input your zip code and they’ll list highly skilled cosmetic dentists within a distance you choose from your zip code.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Should My Dentist Have Told Me About My Gum Disease Before Giving Me Implants?

I’m wondering if my dentist is at fault about my dental implant failure and I can get my money back? I got three dental implants. It was a lot of work and money. They failed in just a few months. My dentist said that happens sometimes and they don’t know why. He asked me if I wanted to do it again. I told him I needed to think about it. I went to another dentist to see if he could tell what went wrong, because my dentist never really checked anything. Apparently, I had gum disease. Pretty bad gum disease. This dentist thinks that’s why it failed. If that’s true, shouldn’t my dentist have told me about the gum disease before giving me implants?

Ginny F. – Connecticut

Ginny,

I can’t believe what I’m hearing? You’re darn right this dentist should have told you about your gum disease. He’s responsible to tell you anything which can negatively impact your dental and medical health that he’s aware of. If your gum disease is as advanced as the other dentist says, there’s no way he couldn’t have known without being grossly incompetent.

And, yes, gum disease would definitely be a cause of dental implant failure. In fact, if you have gum disease you can’t have dental implants. They’re contraindicative of one another. Getting a refund shouldn’t be a problem.

That still leaves you with the problem of restoring your teeth. Your first priority is to treat your gum disease. If not, just like the implants fell out, your natural teeth are likely to fall out as well. Once that is under control, you may want to seriously consider getting implants again— from a different dentist of course. It really is the best tooth replacement.

In the meantime, you’ll need something so you don’t just have a group of missing teeth. You could have removable partial dentures placed. Get the ones with holes in them for your natural teeth. That will put less strain on the remaining teeth you have while your gum disease is worked on.

I’m sorry your dentist failed you. Another dentist should help you set this to rights.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Can Dental Implants Replace Teeth that Fell Out?

I’ve lost two teeth. They were lost because I had gum disease that wasn’t cared for quickly enough. I’m hoping I can get dental implants to replace them.

Daisy E. – Kentucky

Daisy,

I understand why you’d want dental implants. They are excellent tooth replacements. Unfortunately, gum disease means that implants are not a good treatment for you at this moment. The priority must be your gum disease.

Once that has been adequately treated, you can see if you’re a good candidate for dental implants. You don’t want to get them before that because they’ll just fail anyway. If your gums couldn’t sustain your teeth, they will not sustain your implants.

It just means putting off the treatment until it has the best chance of success. Once your gums are healthy enough, it will be a fine treatment. Until then, I’d speak with your dentist about some temporary options for you during your gum disease treatment.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Numbness from Dental Implant

I had multiple dental implants placed in my lower left side three days ago. The whole procedure was a nightmare. The dentist was running behind and it took him almost an hour to get to me. When he came in, he was in an obvious hurry. He normally puts gel on my gums and lets it sit for a while before he tries to numb me, but this time, he just wiped it on and jammed the needle in. It hurt like the dickens. I literally jumped in the chair. Instead of apologizing, or even reassuring me, he goes into a lecture about how I need to be able to sit still if he’s going to do dental implants. Well, I toughed it out, but I was in the chair for hours with him drilling, tugging, and pulling. He really did a number on me.  I feel like I got into a fist fight. I expected there to be some soreness after all that and there certainly is, but I can’t feel my tongue. I thought at first it was just that the anesthetic wasn’t wearing off, but it isn’t going away. Is this the result of the dentist being rough or can dental implants do that? Will I be stuck like this forever? If so, I’m going back and having these things taken out. It’s not worth all this.

-Frank

Dear Frank,

First, I’ll say I’m sorry for what a distressing appointment you experienced. Though your dentist should have been more compassionate, especially when he caused you pain, try to forgive him.  Maybe what caused him to run so behind was something stressful and that’s how he ended up so disagreeable.

Based on what you’ve described, it sounds to me like you have some nerve damage. This can be an unfortunate side-effect of any dental procedure.

Your lingual nerve is in the area where your dental implants and injection were given. Though the implant could be responsible for it, it sounds more likely that it occurred during your injection. Many people feel what they describe as “lightning” when their nerve is hit.

Everyone’s anatomy is slightly different. So, when you’re being given an injection, the doctor is looking for standard landmarks and surmising where the nerves might be so they are avoided, but because everyone is unique, there’s really no way to be 100% accurate. This couldn’t have been avoided.

The good news is that this type of nerve damage generally isn’t severe. The needles are so small that a very small portion of the nerve is injured. When someone hurts a nerve in a car wreck or other serious accident, they often tear it or sever it entirely. In your case, the nerve is very likely to regenerate, which means it will heal entirely. Most people in your situation heal within three weeks, but there are times when it can last up to 18 months. There are also times when the numbness is permanent.

Please report this to your doctor and go in for an exam. He may recommend that you go on a course of anti-inflammatory medications, that you see a specialist, or just that you follow up with him so he can monitor your progress. With the damage being done, removing the dental implants won’t help, but you’re likely to make a full recovery regardless.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Can Dental Implants Make You Numb?

I think I caught my dentist on a bad day and it has caused some problems. Normally, he’s very patient and gentle, but the day I came in for my dental implant, he came  bursting through the door in a rush and obviously upset. He didn’t take time to numb me much before my injection, which normally he does because he knows I get anxious. He just jabbed me. It hurt insanely. It’s been three days, and I still can’t feel my tongue. What’s going on? Should I have the dental implant removed?

Denise L. – Ft. Worth

Denise,

Wow! You’ve handled the change in your dentist’s personality very well, especially for someone who has dental anxiety. I have to say, I’m impressed. Many patients would have been furious.

As far as the numbness goes, it’s not the dental implant. It sounds to me like he hit a lingual nerve. This can happen even when everything is done perfectly and patiently. Those nerves are in the same general location, but everyone is a little different, so all a dentist can do is take their most educated guess.

If that’s the case, the feeling will likely come back. In many cases it comes back within a week or two, but it can take as long as a year to eighteen months.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Does a dentist have the right to refuse service?

I wanted to get dental implants, but my dentist is refusing. He says it is because I have diabetes and smoke. Is my life my business. He said he might be willing to help if I quit smoking, but absolutely refuses to treat me if I don’t. What gives him that right?

Joseph S. – Conway, AR

Joseph,

Your dentist understands that dental implants is a difficult procedure under the best of circumstances. Your diabetes puts that procedure at greater risk.  When you add smoking to that, you’re at an even greater risk.

Both of these issues cause a lack of blood flow, which can cause dental implant failure.

Your dentist is just trying to protect you. If your procedure fails, you’ve wasted your time and money. To do the procedure a second time will cost quite a bit more than the first time, because you’d need bone grafting.

I’m sure you can find a dentist willing to do the procedure and take your money, but the best thing is for you to give the procedure it’s best chance.

This blog is borught to you by Dr. David Newkirk.

Is bone grafting really necessary?

I wanted to get dental implants and my dentist said that I have to have bone grafting done first. That seems like it is just adding expense and I’m really ready and anxious to get rid of these dentures. Is that something that is really necessary?

Greg H. – Baltimore

Greg,

It depends on your situation. If your dentist is requiring bone grafter, than it is likely that he fears it would fail without it.

For dental implants to work, you have to have enough healthy bone structure to retain them. If you’ve had dentures for any real length of time, then you probably have degraded bone structure.

That is common with denture wearers, because your body resorbs your bone structure when your teeth are removed.

Getting bone grafting will build up your bone enough to get those dental implants and finally toss the dentures.

If you’re worried it isn’t necessary in your case, then you could get a second opinion by a dentist who examine you.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. David Newkirk.

What if I can’t afford dental implants?

I’m needing to replace quite a few teeth. What do I do if I can’t afford dental implants? I don’t want to be stuck with dentures. I’ve seen my mother suffer through those for years.

MaryAnne L. – Little Rock, AR

Mary Anne,

I can understand you’re not wanting to use dentures. They’re miserable for many patients.  Plus, you want to preserve as much bone structure as possible, which dentures cannot do.

There is something called implant supported dentures.  It mixes dental implants with dentures.  So, you’ll have a denture, but the implants (which won’t have to be as many as full implants) will anchor them to your jaw.  You won’t have the worry about them shifting and falling out the way dentures do alone.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. David Newkirk.

Can I switch dentists in the middle of an implant procedure?

I am getting two dental implants.  The surgery is done, by an oral surgeon, and my dentist put on a maryland bridge. I was excited about this whole procedure, until recently.  I’m on my third bridge.  I’m beginning to lose confidence in my dentist.  Is it OK to switch in the middle of a procedure? I’m spending around $10K on this and want to make sure it is done well.

Valerie B. – MA

Valerie,

I’m not having too much confidence in your dentist either.  A Maryland Bridge is made of a false tooth (or teeth) suspended between two metal wings. The are attached to your adjaced teeth, which are also etched,  with a bonding composite.  They should not need replacement.

The fact that the bridge has had to be replaced three times tells me your dentist lacks both training and skill. I’m very relieved to hear he didn’t do the surgical part of your dental implant procedure..  I highly suggest you switch dentists. You’re at an easy place in the procedure to do that too.

Your dentist is under an ethical obligation to make the transition smooth.  He must cooperate with you changing dentists and provide your new dentist with all the up to date information about your case.

Dental Implants is a highly advanced procedure and you need someone who is skilled.  By the way, a Maryland Bridge is not the standard temporary tooth replacement during the healing period of an implant procedure.  Most dentists would go with a dental flipper.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. David Newkirk.