I will admit I have not always taken the best care of my teeth, and now that I’m in my 80s, I wish that I had. My dentist told me I have a bad case of gum disease, and warned me that my teeth could fall out. And that’s exactly what happened! Despite my mouth’s condition, I’d like to keep as many of my teeth as possible. My kids think I should get dentures, is that my only option? Do I need a full or partial denture? Are dental implants even an option at my age?
Ripley, from Dinosaur, Colorado
Since your teeth are at the point where they are falling out of your gums, it sounds like your gum disease has progressed to advanced periodontal disease. In regards to answering your question, dental implants are preferable to dentures, as dental implants are anchored in your jaw and prevent decay.
However, dental implants are not the best choice for everyone, and certain risk factors increase the likelihood of implant failure. For example, a jaw that have too much decay will require a bone graft, as without one, the jaw will not be able to hold the implants. You will need a dental surgeon to properly assess you, as it would not be in your best interest to get a bone graft for dental implants only to have both the implant and graft fail.
Based on your description, a full-mouth restoration may be necessary. However, that would be the most costly option. You can also opt to remove any remaining teeth that are most likely to need it, or you can wait until they fall out on their own. Once all your teeth are out, you can proceed with a bone graft for a dental implant, or get removable full dentures. However, a removable partial dentures would be a cost-effective option and would save your remaining teeth.
Without teeth or dental implants in your jaw, your brain gets the message that you are not using your jaw anymore, and your body will begin the process of resorption. Your body slowly begins to break down the minerals in your jaw, which can lead to facial collapse over the course of ten years or so. However, given your age, dentures would improve your jaw health and preserve your teeth. With the money you save by getting dentures over dental implants, you can consult with a cosmetic dentist to make you a set of natural-looking dentures.
This blog post is brought to you by San Antonio dental implant provider, Dr. Gilberto Tostado, of 5 Star Dental Group.