When I received dentures a little over ten years ago, I always planned on getting dental implants. I just needed to save up for them. I started right away, but of course, we’d have a car, dishwasher, and refrigerator all die during that time. Though I had to start over several times, I finally have the money. Is it too late for me or can I still get dental implants? Please, please tell me it is not too late.
The great news is it is not too late. As long as you are in good general health you can get dental implants. Are you sensing a but? One of the big problems with dentures is when your teeth were removed, your body immediately began resorbing the minerals in your jawbone. It does this in an effort to be as efficient as possible with your body’s resources. Knowing you no longer have any teeth, it assumes you don’t need that jawbone to retain the roots of your teeth. This results in your jawbone slowly shrinking. Eventually, you will lose so much of your jawbone that you can’t even keep your dentures in. In dental circles, this is known as facial collapse.
Your teeth have been gone for ten years. This means you will have lost some jawbone. Because dental implants need enough jawbone to help retain them (just the way your teeth do), this is important. When you see the dentist you want to do your dental implants, they’ll do a lot of diagnostic x-rays. Make sure they do a CT scan as well. Dental implants are a 3D procedure and the dentist will need 3D images. After those diagnostics, your dentist will tell you if you need more bone. If you do, don’t panic.
There is a bone grafting procedure that can build back up the lost bone structure. It’s possible to get natural or synthetic bone, depending on what works best for you.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
The Prevention of Facial Collapse
First, I’ll say right off the bat that you won’t want to get a dental implant for each missing tooth. That would be inaccessible in its cost. Instead, you would get something known as implant-supported dentures, also called implant overdentures. This will place four to six dental implants and then your new dentures will be anchored to them. The biggest benefit to having dental implants in your jaw will prevent facial collapse.
Getting to Eat What you Want
Another significant benefit is you will find your ability to eat goes up significantly. Even the best fitting dentures reduce your chewing capacity by 50%. So, get out that steak or whatever other food you haven’t been able to easily enjoy since getting your dentures.
Because they’re anchored, you no longer have to worry about them slipping, moving around, or falling out. That last one is the stuff of nightmares and becomes more common the further along your facial collapse gets. I’ve heard horror stories from denture patients who’ve lost their teeth in the middle of a restaurant or a holiday meal with extended family around.
All that to say…yes, you very likely can still get dental implants. Enjoy!
This blog is brought to you by Naperville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. David Newkirk.