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Why Dentures Fail


By Dr. David N. Carothers, DDS


Tooth loss is both psychologically and physically traumatic to anyone who has experienced it. When a natural tooth is lost, the final result is bone loss in the jaw. Bone loss is continual and never ending. This is why dentures eventually fail, especially lower dentures. With the upper denture you can at least get some suction to hold the denture up. This is not possible with a lower denture. As the bone in both the upper and lower jaws slowly dissolve away, the dentures become increasingly loose and difficult to manage while eating and talking. They won’t stay in place because there is no bony ridge for the denture to sit on. Basically the denture floats around in the mouth. If you bite down while the denture is floating, it may shift slightly out of place and OUCH, you get pinched.


At this point there is only one way to solve the problem of loose dentures, and it isn’t with sticky, gooey, bad tasting denture adhesive. A wonderful new way of attaching dentures down and making them stable is the dental implant. The dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium that is permanently fixed down into the jaw bone. The denture is then attached to the implant(s) in various ways. Not only does the implant hold the denture in place, but it also helps to stop the continuous bone loss caused by constant pressure on the bone from the denture.


Implants can also be used to stabilize partial dentures, and even replace individual teeth. Some may wonder, “Doesn’t it hurt to have metal screwed into my jaw?” The answer is no, it really doesn’t. I have many patients whom I have done the procedure on that would tell you it’s not painful. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t require being knocked out or drugged at all, except for local anesthesia (numbing).


One might ask, “Well is there a point in time where I’ve had so much bone loss that I can’t have dental implants?” The answer is yes. If too much bone has been lost from the continual pressure caused by the dentures, you may not be a candidate for implants. However, the only way to know is to have an x-ray taken, called a panoramic x-ray, to see how much bone is available.


All of these procedures from start to finish are done in my office. You will never have to be referred out to have other procedures done. I’ve been placing implants since 1987 when it was in its infancy. The technology of implants has reached its pinnacle, and there is no better time than now to have dental implants placed to greatly enhance the quality of life remaining.


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