Q: I’m ninety years old. I’m in good health, but my teeth on the lower are gone. I saw someone for an answer to my problem. He said I need dentures and maybe some implants. My partials are loose and so are my teeth – which are starting to hurt when I bite down.
I told him I’m a fussy guy, not easy to please, and he said maybe I should see somebody who does implants and makes dentures too. He said he doesn’t make many dentures so maybe a denturist would make the dentures and he would take out the teeth. That was eight months ago. Two months ago I saw somebody who said he could put in the implants and do the dentures.
He said I might be fine to have just an upper without any implants and the lower with implants because he said the lower one doesn’t stay in place as well. He gave me two options. One option was to put in three implants that will snap into a denture. The other one he said needs five implants and then a metal bar is made that is connected to all the implants. He said that it was better. It was certainly more expensive. Money is not really the issue, but because of my age I think I’d like to spend less if the results are going to be the same. He said the lower denture would snap onto the bar if I went that way. So which is better – why should I go with one over the other?
A: As we get into our retirement years and beyond, we have a harder time adjusting to something artificial in our mouths. Even though upper dentures usually function quite well, it’s the balance and coordination that is hard to manage. I’ve seen people have a terrible time for a year who were in your age group.
It’s worse with the lower because there’s no suction at all. Of the two choices you’ve been offered the option with the connecting bar is better because it supports all of the denture that will be snapped to it. You’ll have no problem if something gets under the denture because the bar stops the denture from being pressed into your gums. However, both options usually take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before they’re working in your mouth and during that time you’ll be miserable.
A third option is a bridge connected to the implants on the same day. You’ll be able to eat immediately, there will be no pressure by the denture (right after surgery) on the gums and there will be faster healing with less swelling. The biggest advantage is that like natural teeth the new teeth don’t move, so you get used to them almost immediately.