4901 Seminary Road, Suite 120
Alexandria, VA 22311
Richard A. Miller, D.D.S., FAGD
3690 King Street
Alexandria, VA, 22302
78 NORTHEASTERN BLVD
Richmond , VA, 23238
Novick, Arthur, D.D.S. DMD PC
11325 Sunset Hills Road
Reston, VA, 20190
Gray, Richard J D.D.S.
1650 King St # 300
Alexandria, VA, 22314-2747
The art and science of implant dentistry has advanced rapidly during recent years and new techniques and materials have greatly improved our ability to replace missing tissues with functional and natural-looking artificial prostheses called dentures implants. However, it must be remembered from the outset that no prosthesis or artificial substitute will ever function as well as the original living tissues. Research has shown that the chewing efficiency of experienced denture patients is, at best, less than 20% as efficient as the average chewing efficiency of patients with natural teeth.
Both upper and lower dentures are retained in the mouth by an intimately close fit of the plastic denture base to the gums. The intimately close fit is achieved by a combination of muscle control and suction. Mastering the function of the lower denture is more difficult than learning to use an upper complete denture. By comparison, the lower denture has less stable tissue with which to rest on than the upper denture. The lower denture stays in place largely due to the ability of the denture wearer to control their tongue well enough to hold the denture down while they speak and chew. Therefore, lack of tongue coordination in a lower complete denture wearer can severely affect the patient's ability to wear a lower complete denture.
For various reasons, teeth have to be removed. After tooth removal, the residual bone that is used to support the teeth will then shrink away quite rapidly over the first year because the body knows that the residual bone is no longer needed. The greatest amount of shrinkage occurs during the first year after tooth removal. Research has shown that wearing dentures will accelerate jawbone shrinkage. As the shrinkage of the jawbone support progresses over time, new dentures will need to be fabricated in approximately six to ten years. Because each denture wearer is unique, sometimes the internal surface of the denture needs to be readapted to the gum tissues. This procedure is called a reline.
Some patients are never able to adapt to functioning day-to-day with their complete dentures. Many of these patients do not have adequate bone to stabilize a lower denture. Others never develop enough muscle coordination to learn to chew with their dentures. For many years, dentistry had nothing more to offer patients other than a denture adhesive. Today, such problems can often be managed through the use of implant dentistry. Even with as few as two dental implants, the retention and stability of a lower denture can be greatly increased with denture implants. In fact, the chewing efficiency can also be greatly increased. Some patients have estimated that they regained up to 70% of their original chewing capacity. Overall, patients feel more confident when they are in public because they no longer fear that their dentures will slip or cause them embarrassment with denture implants.
By Benjamin O. Watkins, III, DDS
All dental implants are not the same. Depending on how big the implant itself is, it will be classified as either a standard dental implant or a mini dental implant (sometimes called a denture implant).
Regardless of size, they are all titanium implants that fuse to the patient's jawbone and form the base for replacement teeth.
Two out of three dentists offer dental implant therapy, found a recent survey. One out of five think that regular dental implants are always better than mini dental implants.
However, the majority of dentists think mini tooth implants are good for a variety of patients.
A mini implant is smaller and thinner than a regular dental implant. In addition, mini tooth implants are also considerably more affordable. The mini dental implant surgery is also less invasive, takes less time, and heals faster.
"Mini implants have worked very well for my patients because of their low cost and immediate loading," said one dentist. One way dental implant dentists and prosthodontists use mini implants is to help denture patients.
When a patient's dentures don't stay put, the lower denture can be stabilized with mini dental implants; this is known as denture stabilization. The bottom denture will then snap onto the implants, offering better support and retention.
Mini dental implant surgery can appeal to patients since mini dental implants cost less. "They make dental implants affordable for many," declared one dentist.
"There is seldom an occasion anymore when I can't replace traditional implants therapy with minis," raved another. "I'm so thankful I can now offer a less expensive alternative that still brings a lot of joy to those patients that receive them."
Mini dental implant therapy works well for some patients, but it is not for everybody. "Mini implants are good for patients who don't want or can tolerate regular implants, but failure rates are higher with these minis," said an Arizona dentist.
A patient's dental implant dentist or prosthodontist can help determine the best course of action.