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Dental Implants after Years in Dentures

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Question submitted by Karl:

I have been in dentures for 13 years. I have noticed it is getting harder to keep them in. My dentist warned me about this when I first got dentures, but at the time I had no choice financially. I’m in a better place now because of an unexpected windfall. Is it too late for me to get the dental implants now? If it is too late, is there a way to keep these dentures in?


Dear Karl,

An image of both titanium and zirconia dental implants.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our finances always supported all of our needs? Alas, sometimes we can’t afford what would be the best thing for our bodies. I am so excited that you’ve had an unexpected blessing to make this possible for you.┬áTechnically, as long as you are in good general health, you can always get dental implants. However, you are likely to need an additional bone grafting procedure the longer you are in your dentures.

Before and after facial collapse
An illustration of the effects of facial collapse.

When your teeth were removed, your body began to resorb the minerals in your jawbone in order to use them elsewhere in your body. It does that to be as efficient as possible with your body’s resources as possible. This has the unfortunate side effect of shrinking your jawbone which is not only necessary to keep your appearance looking normal and youthful, but also means you will eventually find it impossible to retain your dentures. This is known in dental circles as facial collapse.

The Solution to Facial Collapse

The best thing you can do is to have some bone grafting done. This will build back up the bone that was lost during the resorption procedure. Once that is completed and healed, you will have a couple of choices. First, you can just get dentures again. While the less expensive option, you will start again with the whole process of facial collapse.

The better option is then to get those dental implants you are hoping for anyway. Then, after the bone has had time to integrate with the implants, you can have a new set of dentures anchored to them.

You will have a completely secure smile which you will find improves your quality of life significantly. Not only that, but you will no longer have to fear facial collapse. This is because the implants serve as prosthetic tooth roots that signal to your body that you still have teeth which need to be supported. This will leave your minerals in your jawbone.

This blog is brought to you by Tucson Dentist Dr. Howard Steinberg.