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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,

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.