I am helping my father navigate the next steps for his missing teeth. Are there options other than dentures or are they still the standard for elderly that are missing teeth? Also, can you explain the denture process so I can help him understand what to expect.
-Paul in Kentucky
Thank you for your question. Today, there are several options to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are a permanent replacement to missing teeth and feel the most like natural teeth. However, not everyone is a dental implants candidate. The patient must have adequate bone present at each implant site or bone grafting may be required to build the jawbone up again. Also, budget can be a limiting factor since dental implants are an expensive option. There are two phases of dental implant placement. During the surgery, the implant post is placed in the bone. Then, after a healing period of approximately size months, the bone fuses with the implant. When that has been done successfully, a porcelain crown is placed onto the implant post. Lastly, it is important to realize that dental insurance does not cover dental implants.
Complete dentures are less expensive and are very similar to the conventional dentures that have been around for quite awhile. The first step in the process is to have the remaining teeth removed. Then, after a short period of healing, approximately two or three months, the appliance is fitted. There is an option called immediate dentures, which are placed right after the removal of teeth if the patient does not want to go without teeth for any amount of time. If this treatment plan is selected, there will likely be multiple adjustments required as the healing continues.
If your dad has some remaining teeth left, then partial dentures may be an option. This appliance has a metal frame that is secured by the natural teeth and has false teeth that fill in the missing areas. A partial denture also helps to keep the remaining teeth in their positions. In some cases, crowns or a dental bridge may be combined with a partial denture. It all depends on which teeth are still remaining, as well as the health of those teeth.
Lastly, an implant-supported denture is an option that combines dental implants and a complete denture. The denture is stabilized by multiple dental implants (four or six) that are implanted in the jaw. The denture is more secure and doesn’t move around. Also, it is more cost effective than getting dental implants to replace each missing tooth.
The best thing to do is to schedule a consultation with a reputable implant dentist in your areas who can provide all the options that will work the best for your father’s specific needs.
Dr. Rick Lane is an implant dentist in Petaluma. He places dental implants, dentures, implant overdentures and all types of replacement options.