My dentist is suggesting that I have all my teeth removed to get dentures, and I’d be okay with this, except my dad really hates his dentures. He’s had them for about ten years, and they seem to get worse every year. I’ve heard about different types of dentures that go with dental implants, and I want to find out everything I can before I make a decision. Thanks for your help.

Kevin, Woodland Hills

Hi there Kevin,

You’re right. There are a lot of different options for dentures these days, and it’s a great idea to educate yourself before you make an irreversible decision. There are a many different reasons to consider implant-supported dentures, but let’s focus on the three most important ones.

  • Implant-supported dentures prevent bone loss, which can lead to facial collapse.
  • Traditional dentures leave a lot to be desired, and they can make it harder to chew efficiently, fully enjoy the taste of your food, and enunciate clearly.
  • Implant-supported dentures come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s not always necessary to remove all of one’s teeth to restore a healthy smile.

To begin with, the most important reason to consider implant-supported dentures is because when we lose a tooth, our body interprets the loss to mean that the bone in the jaw that supported that tooth can be used elsewhere in the body. So it begins to resorb those minerals, leading to bone loss. When we have lost most or all of our teeth, this bone loss can eventually lead to facial collapse, which is the shrunken appearance in the lower face we associate with extreme age. Implant-supported dentures prevent bone loss by acting just like our tooth roots do, signalling the body to maintain the jawbone.

Secondly, traditional dentures present problems that make it harder to chew and enjoy food and to enunciate clearly when speaking. This is because the top denture covers the entire palate and is held in place by suction, covering many taste buds and slurring our speech slightly. The lower denture is held in place with the tongue and cheeks, so slippage is a problem, leading to lower chewing efficiency. Typically, chewing efficiency drops by close to 50 percent with dentures, and this may be what your father hates so much about his dentures.

And finally, you can choose from a variety of different implant-supported dentures to best fit your particular situation.

  • Removable implant-supported full dentures are more secure than traditional removable dentures and address most of the problems we mentioned, including bone loss.
  • Fixed implant-supported dentures can feel more like a new set of permanent teeth.
  • Implant-supported partial dentures can replace two or more missing teeth.
  • And implant-secured bridges mimic your natural teeth with fixed porcelain crowns.

It would be a very good idea to question your dentist about why he or she wants to extract all of your teeth. It is always better to preserve as many teeth and as much natural tooth structure as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions and do more research to find a dentist who will provide the kind of care you really need.

Good luck to you in restoring a healthy smile.

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