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Is it too late for implant dentures, and how long will they last?

If I have worn dentures for more than ten years, is it too late for implant dentures? My dentures are wearing out, and I think they will only last a few more months. It has been hard to get them to stay in place, too. So although implant dentures cost a lot, I’ve been considering them within the past two weeks. My only hesitation is not knowing how long they will last. I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on implant dentures if I need to replace them in a few years. Thank you. Craig from Iowa

Craig,

Thank you for your inquiry.

We will answer both your questions separately: Is it too late for implant dentures? And how long will they last?

Is It Too Late for Implant Dentures?

Even if you have worn dentures for many years, it is not too late for implant dentures. But the longer you wear dentures, the more likely it is to need bone grafting before you get implants. Here’s why:

Wearing dentures for years

Tooth roots stimulate the jawbone and keep it intact. But when all your teeth are missing, the jawbone shrinks. And your body uses the minerals from it elsewhere. As a result, many long-time denture wearers experience bone shrinkage, which causes their facial muscles to sag.

Dental implants need support

Jawbone support dental implants. An implant is like an anchor that supports your denture. Without a solid foundation, dental implants will fail. So if you have low jawbone volume, a dentist will need to build it up with bone grafting before placing dental implants.

Implant overdenture - snap-on denture with the denture hovering above the implants
Two implant keep a snap-on denture in place

One technique, All-on-4 dental implants, angles the implants during placement to add stability and prevent the need for bone grafting.

How Long Do Implant Overdentures Last?

The answer to how long implant overdentures last includes two factors: the implants that a dentist places in your jawbone and the dentures attached to them.

Dental implants – According to the American Academy of Implant dentistry, when you receive dental implants from a dentist with advanced implant training, they can last a lifetime. But periodically, your dentures will need to be replaced.

Denture – A well-made denture that your dentist attaches to the implant can last ten to fifteen years.

What Are the Advantages of an Implant Denture?

Other than longevity, an implant denture has other advantages:

  • Stabilizes your denture
  • Improves your chewing efficiency
  • Makes it easier to speak with dentures
  • Stimulates jawbone and prevents facial sagging
  • Minimizes embarrassment due to dentures that click, pop, slip, or fall out
  • Helps dentures look and feel more like your own teeth.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are thinking about getting implant dentures, schedule consultations with at least two skilled dentists. Look for dentists with advanced implantology training or who refer patients to an oral surgeon or specialist for implant placement.

Dr. Thomas J. Goebel, a family dentist in Moline, IL, sponsors this post. Dr. Goebel works closely with an oral surgeon or periodontist for implant surgery.

 

Can I Remove a Loose Dental Implant at Home?

I have a new implant and crown that I received almost three months ago. The implant is loose and irritating. I will see the dentist next week. Can I pull out the implant myself? – Thank you. Lyle from PA

Lyle,

Thank you for your inquiry.

If you have a loose implant, we do not advise you to remove it yourself. Instead, only allow a skilled implant dentist or specialist to remove the implant.

What Happens If You Remove a Loose Implant at Home?

If you remove the implant at home, you might harm these areas:

  • Mistakenly damage surrounding tissue
  • Disrupt the surrounding bone
  • Cause the space to fill in with tissue prematurely

What Causes Dental Implant to Loosen?

Some factors that can cause a dental implant to loosen:

  • Placement – Without a 3-D CT scan, the implant location may not be ideal for healing. If the implant and your jawbone do not fuse, the implant can loosen and fail.
  • Infection – Infection in your bone or gum tissue creates inflammation and prevents osseointegration (bone and tissue fusing).
  • Implant overload – Too much pressure on the implant abutment (connector) or crown can cause overload. Clenching or grinding your teeth can add stress to an implant.

Symptoms of a Loose Dental Implant

Symptoms of a loose dental implant include the following:

  • Implant crown movement
  • Pain when you chew
  • Bleeding around the implant
  • Gum discoloration
  • Changes in gum structure

Loose Dental Implant Treatment

Diagram of three phases of a dental implant: separate compoonent, implant screw in the bone, and the crown attached
An implant dentist with advanced training or a specialist must remove a loose implant

An implant dentist must remove a loose dental implant. But your implant dentist will take an x-ray to identify which dental implant components are loose or damaged. Then, your implant dentist will determine and treat any of these factors before replacing the implant.

  • Infection – A dentist must treat and remove the infection to promote healing.
  • Bone loss – You may need grafting to support the implant. And three to four months of healing will follow. Otherwise, your dentist may replace the failed implant with a larger one.
  • Teeth grinding – You will need to wear a mouthguard to avoid pressure around the implant site.

You Can Get a Second Opinion

If your dentist does not give you satisfying answers about why your implant is loose, schedule an appointment for a second opinion. Look for a skilled dentist with advanced implant training or who works with a specialist for implant surgery.

Thomas J. Goebel, DDS of Moline, IL, sponsors this post.

Brown spots on my teeth and whitening makes them worse

Since childhood, I’ve had brown spots on six front teeth. I was told that the discoloration came from illness and frequent fever as a child. My dentist has tried whitening my teeth with different products. Although my teeth are whiter, the discoloration looks darker than ever. My dentist says that he may be able to grind away the discoloration and put composite over it. The process sounds painful. And my dentist doesn’t sound as if he knows that it will work. I am 33 years old and finally stable enough to get this done right without being my dentist’s guinea pig. Is grinding off the stains the only option? – Thank you. Ksenia from Chicago

Ksenia,

You are wise to be cautious about letting your dentist try to remove or reduce the brown spots on your teeth. Your dentist’s attempt to improve your teeth with bleaching shows that he does not understand how to predict the results of whatever treatment he uses.

What Causes Brown Spots on Teeth?

Brown spots on teeth can result from a variety of conditions—some medical and some external. Some causes of brown tooth stains include:

  • Excessive intake of fluoride (fluorosis stains)
  • High fever during childhood while teeth are developing
  • Taking the antibiotic tetracycline while teeth are developing
  • Tobacco products
  • Tooth decay
  • Trauma
  • Untreated decalcification around braces

Will Teeth Whitening Remove Brown Spots?

Teeth whitening will not remove embedded brown spots caused by fluorosis, tetracycline, fever during childhood, and other factors.

Microabrasion for Brown Spots on Teeth

Microabrasion is a process that uses hydrochloric acid and pumice to gently remove a small about of tooth enamel. If the brown spots on your teeth are not deeply embedded, microabrasion might work.

Severe Brown Spots on Teeth

When brown spots on your teeth are severe, a cosmetic dentist can conceal them with dental bonding or porcelain veneers.

Dental Bonding for Brown Spots on Teeth

Dental bonding can conceal brown spots if a skilled cosmetic dentist does it. The dentist will take these steps:

  • Clean and dry your teeth
  • Roughen the surface
  • Lightly etch your teeth
  • Blend dental composite to perfectly match your natural tooth shade
  • Apply and sculpt the composite
  • Harden and polish it

Porcelain Veneers for Brown Spots on Teeth

The tip of dental forceps hold a porcelain veneer
A cosmetic dentist can conceal brown spots with porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers will conceal brown spots on teeth. Although they are more expensive than dental bonding, they last longer. Veneers can last up to 20 years, but bonding must be renewed every three to five years—if not sooner.

A cosmetic dentist takes these steps for veneers:

  • Talks to you about your preferences for tooth shape, size, and color
  • Prepares your teeth by removing less than one millimeter of tooth enamel
  • Takes impressions of your teeth
  • Give you temporary veneers to wear before you approve the look and feel
  • Sends your case to a ceramist to make your porcelain veneers
  • Bonds the veneers on after you approve the look and feel

A dentist must have advanced cosmetic dentistry training to achieve natural-looking results with composite or veneers. Your cosmetic dentist must:

  • Conceal the brown spots
  • Maintain translucence in the bonding or porcelain veneers
  • Perfectly match the bonding or veneers with the surrounding teeth

We recommend looking for a cosmetic dentist and scheduling a consultation to examine your teeth and explain your treatment options. Verify the dentist’s credentials before agreeing to treatment. Read our post, Her porcelain veneers keep falling off, but are they really veneers?, to understand why you must be cautious.

 

Dr. Thomas J. Goebel, a cosmetic dentist in Moline, IL, sponsors this post. Visit his smile gallery to see before-and-after patient photos.