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How to Keep Your Jaw Intact with Dentures

I am in my late 30s and have just been told that I should have all of my teeth extracted. I was recently diagnosed with a severe calcium deficiency. My dentist said that would explain why he’s always having to work on my teeth. As a result of the diagnosis, he think my best option is to extract my teeth and get dentures. I have been looking into it and there seems to be a complication with this that results in the jaw bone shrinking. I’ve seen the pictures and I am in tears. These people look ancient. Is there no way to save these teeth? I don’t want to look like that? If the teeth can’t be save, is there a way my jaw can be protected?

Kate


Dear Kate,

Illustration of implant overdentures

I am sorry you are going through this. I have to tell you that I have doubts that you need to have your teeth extracted. Some dentists really like to save teeth. Others prefer to extract them. I think your dentist does not enjoy working on teeth. He is more the extraction type and he’s using your diagnosis as an excuse.

The truth is that having a calcium deficiency in adulthood has zero effect on your teeth. There are serious problems associated with it, including nerve problems, cramps, and even osteoporosis. You will need to get treatment for your calcium deficiency.

As for your teeth, the first thing I would do is get a second opinion from a different dentist about the status of your teeth. Find a dentist who prefers to save as much natural tooth structure as possible.

In Case You Do Lose Your Teeth

On the off chance that you do need to extract all of your teeth there is a way to prevent the jaw shrinking. In dental circles, this is known as facial collapse. The reason this happens is because when your teeth are removed, your body recognizes this and, in an effort to be as efficient with your teeth as possible, begins to resorb the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere. The way to prevent that is by making your body think you still have teeth roots there that need to be retained.

My suggestion, if that happens, is that you get implant retained dentures. In this procedure, between four to eight dental implants are placed in your jaw. This signals to your body that you still have teeth and the jawbone needs to remain intact. Once the bone has integrated with the dental implants, then your dentist can anchor your dentures to the implants. You will have secure teeth and a healthy jawbone.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

Dental Implants Keep Falling Out

You know that nightmare you have were some of your teeth just fall out? Well, I feel like I’m living that. I had four dental implant placed on my lower ridge. These were supposed to eventually have dentures anchored to them. I’m also getting two individual implants on my upper arch. Here is my problem. I’ve only had the implants about a week, and two of them have already fallen out. I have a few questions. First, should I be expected to pay for dental implants that fall out? Second, do I need to be worried about the other two? Third, should I bother getting the two upper ones? Fourth, is it possible to get working dental implants or do I need to find another alternative? Finally, if I do need to find the alternative, what do you recommend?

Wallace


Dear Wallace,

Illustration of implant overdentures

I am sorry this has happened to you. I will tell you that most trained implant dentists have a 5% failure rate. Even then, most of them won’t fail for at least a year. Your dentist has a 50% failure rate in a week. There is something really wrong here. Priority number one will be figuring out why your dental implants failed.

Some Reasons for Dental Implant Failure

  • Development of an infection. This is generally accompanied by pain and/or a fever. This can happen if the dentures are not fit properly., often because of poorly fitting fixtures.
  • Diagnostic shortcuts. It is important for your dentist to determine if you have enough bone to support the dental implants. If you don’t, there is a bone grafting procedure which can be done.
  • The use of substandard implant fixtures. Some dentists will do this to increase their profits without raising their prices.
  • Incorrect placement of the implants.
  • Placing the dental crown before the bone has had enough time to fuse with the implant fixtures. Dentists call this premature loading.

As for your questions, here are my thoughts:
First, no, you should not have to pay for the failed dental implants, especially ones that failed this quickly. Should you be worried about the other two? Absolutely. Before you do anything else, I want you to see a dentist who has extensive post-doctoral training in dental implants. Don’t tell them who your dentist is, just what happened and ask if they can tell you what caused the failure. Without that information there is no point in moving forward.

Once that is pinpointed, he or she should be able to tell you how to proceed. If you are in good general health, there should be no problem getting dental implants or even the implant supported dentures you are working on. It will require some bone grafting first, but it is very likely you needed that anyway and, failure to obtain that information on the part of your dentist, was why they failed to begin with.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

Painful Dental Implant Failure

I cracked an upper tooth and my dentist said it could not be saved. The best option he proposed was a dental implant. When he did the shot for the Novocaine I am convinced something went wrong because it felt like he hit my brain. Ever since them my whole palate has been burning. I mentioned it to the dentist and he told me some burning was normal after a procedure. I’d returned several times when the pain and burning didn’t subside. He then diagnosed me with with thrush and gave me a prescription. That prescription did absolutely nothing. My mouth burns constantly. I did some research on my own. I know… the old Google Medical Degree. However, I found something called Burning Mouth Syndrome and it fits my symptoms exactly. Is that a possibility?
That wasn’t the end of my troubles. When he placed the crown for the dental implant he had some trouble and had to press down extremely hard. It was excruciating. A couple of months later and the crown fell off. I was out of state helping my mother after her surgery. I went to a dentist there and they told me that the dental implant was infected and needed to come out. He did the surgery and removed the implant, then suggested a dental bridge in its place, which I did after some healing.
All totaled, I’ve been to the dentist almost twenty times and now have no dental implant to show for it. I’ve contacted a couple of attorney’s hopting to sue for damages to recoup my money. No one seems interested in the case though. What do I do? I’ve spent thousands.

Lana


Dear Lana,

Illustration of a dental bridge versus a dental implant

Let’s start with the burning mouth syndrome. I do agree that this is a strong possibility. One of the causes of it is anxiety from a traumatic appointment, which you certainly had. Your problem in getting a lawyer likely lies in the fact that dental malpractice suits do not bring in a lot of money. Even if you had a lawyer take you on, then you would need an expert witness on your side.

I do think some mistakes were made. First, was the misdiagnoses about thrush, which frankly was laughable. Then, there was the crown falling off. I’m a bit sceptical about the infection. You didn’t mention anything about pain in the implant itself or a fever. These are common signs of an infection, plus I think the implant would have started to loosen.

I haven’t examined you, but based on your description of how the implant was placed, it sounds like your dentist placed too much force on the implant. That could have damaged the bond between the implant and the surrounding bone, leading to later implant failure.

Placing dental implants is an advanced procedure that requires post-doctoral training. Not many dentists invest in that training and there are countless dental implant horror stories to demonstrate that.

Unless you can get another dentist to diagnose why the dental implant failed along with some proof it will be hard to get money back on the implant itself. The misdiagnosis on the thrush and the crown falling off are easily proved. That would get you at least a partial refund.

I am sorry this happened to you.
This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

Dental Implants and Hockey

My son is a freshman in college and plays for the hockey team. He hasn’t been playing that long but lost a tooth, which sounds like a hockey stereotype but it happened. We’d planned on getting him a dental implant. The prosthetic implant is placed. The crown is coming as soon as the bone is integrated with the implant. However, one of his teammates, who is a senior and has a lot of experience told him that a dental implant is a bad idea because he is likely to be injured again. Is that accurate? If so, what do we do? We want something that looks nice because he is getting married in a few months.

Lorna

Dear Lorna,

hockey player with a missing tooth

I had to think about this because I haven’t done much with hockey players in the past, but what the senior told your son makes sense. If your son is reinjured and the implant crown is attached to the prosthetic root, then it could do serious damage to his jaw by ripping through the bone. The good news is that you already have the prosthetic root in. This will protect him from bone resorption, which is one of the reasons dental implants are the best tooth replacement options.

My suggestion is that for now you get him a removable partial flipper for that tooth. This way if he does get in another accident the false tooth will not put his jaw at risk. If you go to a skilled cosmetic dentist, even a denture can look stunning. Once he is done with hockey, then you can have the permanent crown placed. It will be worth the investment to go to a top notch cosmetic dentist for this if you really want it to look perfect for his wedding.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

I Can Smell My Husband’s Dental Implants?

Can you help me? My husband is in the middle of the all-on-4 dental implant process. The implants are in and he has some acrylic dentures. There are porcelain ones coming. However, the smell of his mouth right now, makes me gag like you would not believe. I can even sleep in the same bed with him anymore. I am positive I can smell his metal implants. I’d like him to switch them out for the non-metal kind. I’ve heard that there are now zirconia dental implants. I think those would be better and not smell as badly. His dentist said he wouldn’t do it. Can we switch dentists to have this done? Can you tell me anything to help convince my husband this is a good idea?

Sunny W.

Sunny,

An illustration of all-on-four dental implants

I’m sorry for the stuggle you are having with the smell, but I do not believe the dental implants are the cause of it. Traditional metal implants are made from titanium. These are very inert. Even exposed to the air you would be hardpressed to smell them. Embedded deep in your husband’s bone, it is even more unlikely that you’d be able to smell them.

There are countless reasons why your husband’s mouth could be exuding that smell. The most likely culprit is the acrylic denture. It’s possible food is getting caught in and around it. Assuming he regularly brushes and flosses, I would start by having your husband use a Waterpik to help with his flossing. It is a bit trickier when you are dealing with dental work in addition to your natural teeth.

Why You Would Not Want to Re-do Dental Implants

If you have a successful dental implant case, as it seems your husband does, you do not want to re-do it. This is because it is not simply a matter of taking out one group of dental implants and replacing them with another. First, when you remove the implants, there will be bone structure that comes with it. Unfortunately, that bone sturcutre is necessary in order to retain the dental implants.

This means an additional surgery of bone grafting will have to be performed so the necessary support structure can be built back up. After that has time to heal, then it will be time for his next implant placement.

In total, that is three additional surgeries your husband would have to undergo in order to switch out these implants. I would recommend looking for other, less invasive causes and solutions first.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Goebel.

Can I Switch Dentists In the Middle of My Dental implant Porcedure?

I’m not too thrilled with my implant dentist. I’m getting a dental implant and another tooth replaced with a Maryland Bridge. The bridge is done but it keeps falling off. This worries me. My dental implant case is planned out and I’m suposed to have the surgery in just a few days. However, I fear if he can’t do a dental bridge correctly, he will not be able to do the dental implant porcedure either. Is it too late to switch dentists for this?

Sean

Dear Sean,

Dental implant with components identified - crown, abutment, and root form

I share your concern about your dentist. A dental implant porcedure is much more advanced that a Maryland Bridge. Plus, there is much more training for a dental bridge in dental school than there is for dental implants. To do it well requires post-doctoral training. There are way too many dental implant horror stories as a result of patients going to inexperienced dentists for this procedure.

It is not too late to switch dentists. In fact, you can switch during any procedure at any time. Your dentist is ethically obligated to share all his diagnostics and notes with whichever dentist you end up choosing.

It’s good that you are thinking this through now instead of after the implant surgery, where you would risk dental implant failure.
By the way, a dental implant is a fantastic choice for a tooth replacement. When done well, they are the closest thing to having a healthy, natural tooth in your mouth again.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Goebel.

Alternatives to Dental Implants?

I had an accident that caused me to lose a tooth. I was hoping to get a dental implant for it, but my dentist said I wasn’t a candidate because it is a front tooth. I was disappointed but need to find a replacement for this tooth. What are my next best options?

Corinne

Dear Corinne,

Diagram of dental implant components and a dental implant in the bone next to a natural tooth

I am sorry to hear about your accident. Given what you’ve said, My first suggestion is that you find another dentist. You can absolutely get a dental implant on a front tooth. My guess is your dentist does not do dental implants because he doesn’t have the training. It is a procedure that he would have needed to get post-doctoral training in. Rather than send you to a dentist that could do the procedure, he lied and said you were not a candidate. Not the best dentist for you.

I would like you to get a second opinion from someone else. In most cases, if you are in good general health, then you should be a fine candidate for dental implants. There are exceptions, of course, which is why I want you getting a second opinion.

If for some reason it turns out you are not a candidate for a dental implant, you do have other options. Your next best option is to get a dental bridge. Though, that does require the two adjacent teeth to have dental crowns placed on them. Your false tooth will be suspended between the two crowns. Like the dental implant, it is permanently placed.

I would not give up on the idea of the dental implant yet. Get that second opinion.

Whichever procedure you end up with, you may want to consider teeth whitening first, depending on how satisfied you are with the current color. Once your dental implant crown is made, the color is permanent and will not respond to whitening. If you have the bleaching done first, you can match your new crown to the color you’ll be proud to keep around.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Goebel.

Are Dental Implant Tax Deductable?

I’m scheduled for dental implant surgery tomorrow and it just occurred to me that it MIGHT be tax deductible. If so, is there anything I need to know or hoops I have to jump through? I’ve only got a day to figure this out.

Jake

Dear Jake,

Diagram of dental implant components and a dental implant in the bone next to a natural tooth

You’ve made a great choice on your tooth replacement. Dental implants are the closest thing to having a healthy, natural tooth in your mouth again. Your question is also perfect timing for the end of the year! To answer your question, yes, dental implants can be tax deductible under IRS Topic 502: Medical and Dental Expenses. However, as you would expect with the government, there are some catches.

7.5% of Your Gross Income is the Magic Number

It’s not a straight forward deduct the cost of this procedure type of thing. First, you will have to itemize each expense. Then, you can only deduct the cost of what goes above 7.5%. Let’s say your gross income is $50,000 to make this simple. That means the first $3,750 you have to cover without claiming it. Anything over that is deductible.

The good news is this does not apply to individual procedures. You can itemize all your medical and dental expenses. Then, anything over whatever your magic number is will be what is deductible. Be aware, that whatever your insurance covers cannot be applied to the cost.

Consider an HSA for Next Year

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow people to deduct pre-tax money to place into an account for use in medical and dental costs. Typically, these funds are placed on an HSA Debit Card that you can use with your medical and dental providers. Human resources should be able to set you up with one if you don’t have it already. This is just one more way to keep some of your hard earned money.

A word of warning for future readers. Tax laws change each year, but these are accurate as of the date at the top of this post. It is always best to check with a tax professional.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

 

Should I Update My Dental Implants?

I have had my current dental implants since the late 1990s. There are two of them on my lower arch. I keep reading about the updates in the dental implants technology and materials and have lately been wondering if I should update mine for the newer materials, such as zirconia rather than titanium. What do you think?

Pricilla

Dear Pricilla,

Diagram of three phases of a dental implant: separate compoonent, implant screw in the bone, and the crown attached

It is wonderful that you keep up with the developments in the dental field. That combined with how long your dental implants are lasting tells me you take very good care of your smile. Do the developments that have taken place in recent years warrant you updating your current dental implants, though?

Replacing a dental implant is not as simple as taking out the old ones and switching them with the new ones. When the older implants are removed, some bone structure will go with them. This means you will need to have some bone grafting done in order to place the new dental implants. Then, once that has had time to heal, it will be another surgery to get the new implants followed by another period of healing while osseointegration takes place. Only then, will the implant crown be able to be placed. That is a LOT to go through when you have solid, functional dental implants.

Zirconia is tempting for many people because we love the idea of metal-free dental implants. I’m not saying don’t switch out. That, of course, is up to you. However, I would say that there is no evidence that the zirconia is either superior or inferior to the implants you currently have so it may not be worth the unnecessary surgery.

What to Look for With Dental Implant Failure

When you would want to take action is when the implants seem to be nearing the end of their life. Here are some things you can keep an eye out for when it comes to failing implants:

  • Discomfort and difficulty biting and chewing. This may signify a developing infection.
  • Pain and discomfort around the implant.
  • The implant shifting or feeling “loose”.
  • Gingival recession around the implant.
  • Swollen, inflamed gum tissue around the area.

If any of these symptoms occur I would consult with your implant dentist and evaluate whether it is time for a replacement.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

 

Do I Need a Root Canal or an Extraction and Implant?

Dental implant with components identified - crown, abutment, and root formThree years ago, my wife and I got in an accident that released the airbags in our van. I took a hard blow to my face, and since then, my front left tooth has been sensitive on and off. My dentist said she would watch the tooth, but it began to turn dark last fall. I saw my dentist last week for the first time since Covid, and she referred me to an endodontist for a root canal. The endodontist will complete the root canal next week. Will the root canal improve the tooth color, or will I need to see a cosmetic dentist? Should I get an extraction and dental implant anyway? – Thank you. Gordon from St. Petersburg, FL

Gordon,

Thank you for your question.

Will Root Canal Treatment Lighten a Dark Tooth?

Root canal treatment will not lighten a dark tooth. It often makes a tooth darker. Why would root canal treatment darken a tooth? When a dentist leaves root canal filling material and cement in the portion of the tooth above the gumline, the tooth darkens.

Preventing a Tooth from Darkening After Root Canal Treatment

Your dentist can minimize the darkening effects of root canal treatment with these steps:

  • Remove root canal filling and cement from the tooth crown
  • Bleach the tooth internally
  • Seal the bleaching solution inside the tooth
  • Insert a flexible fiberglass post in the tooth and fill the tooth with composite, or correct the color with a porcelain veneer

When most of the structure is left on a front tooth, preparing it for a crown can weaken and increase the risk of breaking it. A cosmetic dentist can correct the color with a porcelain veneer after root canal treatment if your front tooth is intact.

Unless your tooth is severely damaged and the endodontist (a root canal specialist) cannot save it, it is best to preserve it and avoid extraction and a dental implant. We recommend scheduling a second opinion with an advanced cosmetic dentist to examine your tooth and discuss your treatment options.

 

Moline, Illinois dentist, Dr. Thomas Goebel, sponsors this post.