There is nothing really like your natural teeth, properly aligned and in excellent repair, to enable you to look, feel, and function to your very most vibrant best.
But what if, through circumstance, time, and attrition, your teeth are no longer realistic to maintain? Are there ways to replace missing teeth that are long-term, comfortable, and functional, and that look and feel natural?
Well, yes, there are several. The old solution of removable dentures has been around for nearly three hundred years, in their essence. Dentures can restore the bite adequately, but because they have limited mechanical retention, they tend to dislodge readily, and can lead to sores on the gums and to embarrassing social situations. In addition, the bulk of plastics may compromise speech, as well as the sensations of temperature and taste. But still and all, dentures were a vast improvement over no teeth at all, and remain a realistic option for many people.
When implants were developed, they were adapted to be able to anchor dentures, with the result that removable dentures could now be made with less plastic, less coverage of the gums, and greater retention. This made for a far more stable bite, and far fewer moments of embarrassment and discomfort for the wearer. There were few things that could go wrong, and the dentures required only minimal maintenance.
The latest development involves an implant-retained bridge, called the “All-On-Four”, one that is literally locked into place, with only plastic or porcelain gums that are necessary for esthetics and speech restoration. You can think of it as “teeth only”, that extend around the upper or lower jaw, and which cannot be removed by the patient. It has become the most comfortable and effective way to restore a full arch of missing teeth, while preserving the remaining bone, and enhancing muscle functions.
In essence, there are four to six implants placed per arch, and a bridge is placed the same appointment, so the patient is never without teeth. This temporary bridge remains in place, usable but not removable, for many months, until the implants have completely fused with the bone. At that point, the final restoration is done, which may involve two to four appointments (but no numbing!). At the end of the sequence, the patient has their new teeth, rock solid, and ready to speak with, chew with, and socialize with, and all with the utmost of comfort and confidence.
And although the patient cannot remove the teeth (a major convenience for the patient), we can. So at cleaning appointments (yes, they do need periodic cleanings, just like real teeth), we remove the bridge from the implants, evaluate the tissue health, make adjustments as necessary, and then re-adhere the teeth to the implants. No pain, no shots, and the actual cleaning is done outside of the mouth.
And, if repairs are necessary, we send the bridge into the lab, and replace it with the original, immediate denture for the day or two that we may need to make the existing bridge “good as new”. So there should be no point after the placement of the implants that you are without teeth.
And what a comforting thought THAT is!
Considering dentures or another restoration option for your missing teeth? Please call us at (503) 446-2722 and we will be happy to talk with you further.