Getting A Grip On Things!
Q: Dr. Crapo: Nine years ago, I decided I wanted a better set of teeth.
I had an upper denture and seven lower teeth with a partial. I had implants put in for new top teeth and crowns and a new partial made for my lower teeth. I had good care as far as I know and everything has worked well until three months ago when my implants on the upper denture wouldn’t hold my teeth in securely. I have two implants on each side of my upper jaw that hold the upper teeth in by a snap device that clicks when the teeth are in their proper place. The problem is that the snaps seem to have lost their grip. When I put the teeth in it seems to hold only to loosen and begin to fall as I speak or eat. It’s very frustrating. I went back to the fellow that put them in, but he says there’s nothing more he can do. He’s tried new snaps but that hasn’t worked. What am I to do? I’ve got implants – they seem fine but the part that makes them hold my teeth in place doesn’t work like it has for almost nine years. Will I have to go back to a denture where the palate is covered and just forget about the expense of the implants and the joy it’s been to have secure teeth and the ability to taste my food properly?
A: You actually have many options that will work. As you proceed, do so carefully to find why the snap system isn’t working. The snaps you describe, that are most popular, resemble the snap button on a western style shirt; only they consist of a metal male part on the implant that fits into a plastic female part that’s housed in your denture. Sometimes it’s as easy as replacing the plastic female piece with one stronger in retention grip. Try that first. If after a few days or weeks that fails, the metal male component may be worn. Magnified examination will reveal wear if it’s present. Replacing the ones showing wear may well return the retention you need.
If those solutions prove unsatisfactory, consider that in the past decade surprising advances have been made in securing teeth permanently that are closer to your natural teeth than ever before and allow you to eat immediately.
If the four implants are in good shape and in the right location, a bridge may be constructed and fixed into position so that removing it is not necessary. An even more lifelike bridge could be created by adding an additional two implants (if the first four are in the right location) and no one will know they are not your own permanent teeth.
Based on actual patient cases
@ Calvin Ross Crapo