If you are contemplating having some or all of your teeth removed for partial dentures or full dentures, then you need to know about the four biggest mistakes you don’t want to make.
This is important because the choices you make now can affect the quality of the rest of your life. Remember, once your teeth are gone, they’re gone, and you will live with the consequences forever.
Mistake #1: Not understanding how your choices affect your future
What many people fail to realize is that once teeth are lost, the surrounding bone will begin to slowly and steadily dissolve away. This means that if you have teeth removed, you will end up at some point in your life with very little jaw bone left in the areas where teeth are missing. The more teeth that are missing, the worse it is.
There are some serious problems that develop because of this bone loss. First of all, your face looks collapsed making you look much older. Also, once the bone is gone there is nothing to support dentures or partial dentures, which makes them difficult or impossible to wear.
Ultimately, there is not enough bone left to even support dental implants, and at that point you are just stuck for the rest of your life. That is what happened to a patient I saw just last week.
This poor lady was 68 years old with 20 year old dentures and most of her jaw bones dissolved away. She hates her dentures because she can’t eat with them, they won’t stay in, they float around, and her mouth is always sore.
Worst of all, she never does anything socially because she is embarrassed and afraid that her teeth will fall out or move around. She feels like an outcast and is depressed because of these problems. Unfortunately I had to tell her that there is not enough bone left to place mini implants. Thus she is condemned to living out her life in a misery. It didn’t have to be that way., but now it’s too late.
Many patients have teeth removed without fully understanding the long-term consequences. Often they are under the misguided assumption that removing their teeth will lead to a life without dental problems. Unfortunately this is a wrong assumption.
A denture is a big piece of plastic with teeth on it that sits in your mouth. Your tongue and lips move it around, it floats, it rocks, it gets food under it, there is discomfort to chewing, and sore spots. And however bad it is, it only gets worse as the jaw bone dissolves.
Partial dentures are more stable because they hook onto your remaining teeth. But at the same time, they have ugly metal arms that clasp on your teeth and put bad stresses on those teeth. Then if you lose a critical tooth, the partial won’t work anymore.
Before you have teeth removed, give some thought to where you want to be 5, 10, or 20 years down the road. Make sure you understand the future ramifications of the choices you make today.
Mistake #2: Not using mini dental implants
The mini implant is a titanium metal post that is placed in the jaw bone. New porcelain teeth can be cemented onto the implant, or dentures or partial dentures can be attached to the implant.
Mini implants allow you to replace missing teeth with crowns, dentures or partial dentures that eliminate all of the normal problems. And most importantly, the dental implants keep the bone from dissolving away, just like your natural teeth did.
If you have your teeth removed and don’t place implants, you can assume that somewhere down the line you are going to be left miserable no jaw bone and dentures that don’t work. Then you will suffer for the rest of your life. That is a bad way to spend your later years.
Mini implants can be placed almost anywhere without surgery, with minimal discomfort, and they are affordable. There is no extended healing time, and in most cases you can eat with them the same day they are placed.
The biggest mistake when having teeth out is not having implants placed to keep your jaw from dissolving and to anchor new teeth. In fact I believe in this so much, that I won’t even do a denture case without mini implants as part of the treatment.
Mistake number 3: Not having bone graft material placed when teeth are removed.
When a tooth is removed, often times the bone and gum tissue will collapse into the extraction site. This creates a defect that looks bad esthetically, and make restoration more difficult. More importantly you can be left with not enough bone to hold an implant.
The bone grafting procedure consists of placing synthetic bone into the socket after the tooth is removed. This prevents the bone and gum tissue from collapsing, and promotes the growth of new, strong bone that will effectively support an implant.
Bone grafting is rarely done when teeth are extracted, which in my opinion is a big mistake. Bone graft material should be placed whenever teeth are removed especially in any areas that will be receiving mini implants.
Mistake number 4: Not pre-planning the case
If you are going to have teeth removed, make sure you pick a dentist who completely plans everything out BEFORE the teeth are removed. That may sound like common sense, but that is not necessarily how it normally works.
What you don’t want is a scenario where the dentist takes impressions of your mouth, sends them to a cheap dental lab, where some high school kid makes you a “one size fits all” denture, your teeth removed, the dentures are placed, and out the door you go. That is not going to end well.
What you want is a dentist who will carefully analyze your case, and work with you to decide:
- Which teeth are coming out and which ones can be saved.
- Will bone grafts be placed and where.
- Will mini implants will be placed, how many, as well as the location and position.
- Will the replacement teeth be implants with cemented crowns, bridges, partial dentures, dentures, or some combination of the above.
- What will be the final position of the teeth, whether they be dentures, partials, bridges or crowns
It is important to create the desired end result BEFORE taking the teeth out, and BEFORE the implants are placed. Pre-planning is what insures that everything works out well in the end.
In summary, here is how you avoid tragic mistakes and help yourself have the best possible future.
- Make sure you understand what your goals are for your mouth, what treatments are available for you, and what are the future consequences of the treatment choices you make.
- Have mini implants placed as needed to keep the jaw bone from dissolving, and to anchor your new dentures, partials, or crowns so you have a result that is stable, strong, and comfortable.
- Have bone grafting where indicated to prevent bone collapse during healing, and to insure that you have good solid bone to support implants
- Have a dentist who will pre-plan your case ahead of time, and begin with the end in mind.