If You’re Like George Washington…
IF YOU’RE LIKE GEORGE WASHINGTON OR MISSING A FRONT TOOTH…
In my opinion the worst artificial, prosthetic device of them all is the lower denture. If you wear dentures then you’ll know what I’m talking about. The lower denture has almost no stability. It floats freely in the mouth, and the tongue, which is constantly moving, is located in the middle of the denture. You’re afraid to open your mouth … it might pop out. You speak much more carefully, aware that at any moment, your teeth may pop out of your mouth! I can’t imagine a more difficult and embarrassing scenario. My mom lost her teeth at age 32 and 20 years later her gums had shrunken to the point that they were essentially flat. She tried every kind of adhesive that was available. None really work satisfactorily. After her son became a dentist, he would try different tricks to prevent her lower denture from falling out. Nothing really worked. George Washington solved the problem, as his portraits show. He secured his wooden teeth by keeping his lips pressed together. Mom often displayed that same Washingtonian smile. For the patient with a floating denture, eating too can be a nightmare. Food has to be carefully selected or it can’t be chewed. I could go on and on but you get the idea.
Today, loose dentures no longer need to be a problem. Any denture, upper or lower, can now be stabilized by snapping it on to a few small diameter implants. The beauty of these commonly called mini implants is that they can be placed in a couple of hours and your existing denture securely snapped in place. Conventional (full size implants require a surgical procedure, and a healing period of 3 to 4 months before the denture can be stabilized. The mini implant on the other hand are half the diameter of conventional implants, can be placed painlessly with just local anesthetic, and they also cost about half as much! They were cleared by the FDA in 1994 and at the 2013 American Dental Association conference, Small Diameter Implant was a featured scientific exhibit.
Missing a front tooth? Small diameter implants can also be used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Some folks are born with congenitally missing incisors. One conventional solution was to place a bridge which necessitated removing the enamel from the adjacent teeth, or placing a standard size implant which required months of healing. Braces could also be placed to move other teeth into the space. Of course, that required several years of braces. Now a more convenient solution may be to place a mini implant in the missing space and fasten a crown to it. Again this can all happen in as little as an hour or two.
The success rate for mini implants is similar to that of standard diameter implants, around 95% give or take a percent or two. However, the failure of a large diameter implant requires yet another surgical procedure followed by 3 to 4 months of healing. The mini implant however, can generally be removed and another placed immediately at the same visit. While mini implants are not suitable for some areas of the mouth (standard diameter implants may be) they do offer your dentist another solution.
I’m making it sound simple, and relatively speaking it is. Along with tooth colored fillings and bonding, the mini implant is one of the more exciting innovations to come along in dentistry in the last several years. If any of this interests you, give our office a call. We can help.
Stay well, Dr. Bill Ardito…Sunshine Dentistry AZ (520)761-1600