Dr. Crapo: A month ago I found an ad that claimed I could go into a dentist’s office and within four hours have my upper denture changed out for a bridge that would forever stay in my mouth. The thing that caught my eye, over and above not having to take my denture in and out, was the claim that there would be no more plastic covering my palate. I was very excited so I took it to my dentist. He said that he didn’t do the implants himself and wasn’t sure if the specialist he referred to did that procedure. He also said that putting a bridge on the implants on the same day as the surgery could be tricky and may have a higher failure rate. Is that true? How could someone advertise something that is risky? I phoned the number on the ad and they said it was perfectly safe. Do you know anything about this procedure and do you have experience with it?
This technique has about a ten-year history. Though it is not an every-dental-office procedure, it is quite safe and quite amazing in meeting the promises you saw in the advertisement. The procedure relies on a person’s own bone and has the added bonus that bone grafting is not required. Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule—in other words there are some who literally have no appreciable bone in their upper jaw and in those cases, a different surgery (also graftless) must be done to get the same results. It is therefore important that several very accurate x-rays be taken to make sure adequate bone is available and the exact surgical procedure planned properly.
At the appointment scheduled for these x-rays, molds of your upper jaw may be taken as well as a careful assessment of your present denture. Careful measurements are made to ensure a pleasing cosmetic result can be achieved. The surgery is also planned in accordance to the amount of tooth you display, so that you don’t end up with a “gummy smile.”
Finally, it’s important to know that this is a two-stage process. The first stage completes the surgery and puts a temporary “denture-bridge” in place—firmly fixed to the implants. During this phase you must limit yourself to soft foods. Usually this phase allows a good amount of function for the six months it’s in place. Then at six months, the final bridge is fabricated and put in place. It is much stronger than the first one and allows for full function. This procedure can be done for the lower jaw as well.
Yes, my office has this procedure and the experience to do it. Please call, as I know you’ll have more questions. Call 778-410-2080 for a free consultation.