You’ve been wearing a denture for many years, and you are getting sick and tired of all the “goo” you have to use to keep the darn thing in place when you are talking or eating! Even worse, when it does stay in, food bits get stuck underneath…and having all of that plastic in your mouth makes food taste different than it did when you had teeth.

If this sounds familiar, you may be interested to know that you have several alternatives to traditional removable dentures, all of them related to dental implants. Even if in the past you were told you “don’t have enough bone” for dental implants there are newer techniques that make implants possible. All of these options lead to a very secure, no-slip bite and smile, and all of these options look just like natural teeth when made by a skilled dental laboratory technician and dentist.

The Basics

A dental implant replaces a tooth root in your jaw under the gums.

What is a dental implant? With dental freezing,  a titanium screw is placed into the bone in your jaw.  This screw is hollow to allow other parts to be attached to the implants which then also attach to your new teeth.  Implants can be used for a single tooth or to replace all the teeth. The way the teeth are replaced is selected based on a number of factors, but the first question to ask is…do you want to be able to still remove your denture to clean it, or do you want to clean it as if it were your own teeth?

Implant-Supported Smile

A denture with separate implant attachments is a great solution preventing rocking of a denture during eating.

Connecting the implants with a bar gives superior retention of the denture, and allows us to remove the bulky extra plastic of a traditional denture from the roof of your mouth.

The most retentive removable option for replacing all the teeth in one or both jaws

The least expensive option for dental implants when you are missing all the teeth in one or both jaws is a removable option. 4-6 dental implants are placed to replace all of the teeth in one jaw (8-12 for both jaws). Depending on how retentive you would like your teeth to be, there are different attachments (called abutments) that are screwed onto each implant. These can be individual from one another, or can help attach a rigid bar above the gums for a very stable denture. The rigid bar is a more expensive option as it is milled from titanium for great strength and cleansability. The denture can easily be removed by you every day for thorough cleaning or the teeth and the implant areas without showing any metal when you speak or smile. A third and newer option for removable denture that is as sturdy as if it was permanently attached to the implants is called Conus Concept. This is locked into placed on your implants with a “key” and is to be unlocked by you daily for cleaning, and it allows us to make the smallest possible denture with the least amount of plastic of all the removable options. Each of these options vary in cost from $10,000-25,000 per jaw, depending on the number of dental implants used and the type of attachments used to hold the teeth in place.

Implant-Retained Smile

Teeth can be screwed onto dental implants for the greatest security.

All-On-4 can be a solution to replace missing teeth for upper or lower jaw, or even both jaws!

For the patient that does not want to see the actual implants or metal connectors, the teeth can be screwed directly onto the implants. In many cases, this can be done on the day of implant placement with a healing denture. Patients arrive at the day of surgery with natural teeth or no teeth, the teeth are removed, the implants placed (4-6 in each jaw), and the temporary teeth are immediately attached (also called “immediate-load” , “teeth-in-a-day”, or “All-on-4”).  For patients who have natural teeth prior to treatment, this type of treatment most closely mimics the feeling of natural teeth. After a healing period of 4-12 months, new impressions are made and the final teeth are constructed to screw on permanently.  These can only be removed by your dentist. In some cases, implants can be placed and individual crowns can be placed on each implant.  This treatment requires many more implants to be placed, 8+ in the upper jaw and 6-8 in the lower jaw, and not every patient is a candidate for this type of treatment. The cost for these options ranges from $30,000-40,000+ per jaw including the temporary healing teeth.

What if I don’t have enough bone for Dental Implants?

Your bone needs to be of a certain height and width to easily support each dental implant.  However, for those patients missing teeth for several years, the bone may have already melted away, leaving insufficient bone in the jaw. There are a variety of procedures to add bone or move bone from one area to another to make implants possible, and there are even longer implants which can take advantage of holding onto bone in the upper jaw way beyond where the teeth used to be. What all of this means is implants really can be for almost everyone!

Almost Everyone…?

Implants are generally a very successful procedure, one of the most successful we do in dentistry today (in the high 90th percentile of success). Patients ar risk for rejecting the implants are smokers, uncontrolled diabetics, patient with uncontrolled gum disease in other areas of the mouth where natural teeth remain, and patients with other autoimmune disorders. All of the patient in these categories can still have dental implants, but certain precautions must be taken to ensure success.  You can speak with a qualified implant dentist to find out if you may be a candidate for dental implants.

It’s so expensive…how can I pay for this??

Patients suffering with ill-fitting dentures that fall out when eating or even talking often state “too expensive” as the reason they haven’t yet had dental implants to help. In fact, some dental implant options can cost as much as a luxury car! Think about the last car you bought…did you pay for it all at once, or did you finance it over time? If you are like the majority of people, you financed it over several years, and there are companies specifically designed to finance your dental care as well! Is this crazy? Well…how long did you own your last car? Three years? Five? Your new smile should last for years to come and provide an excellent investment in your health and well-being, not to mention confidence! Check out one of the Canadian companies we use for dental financing, DentalCard.ca

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at drandreastevens.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer.