I’ve had dentures for about 20 years. I’m having trouble keeping them in, even with adhesive. For some reason the ridge that holds them is disappearing. I’m afraid if this continues I won’t be able to wear my dentures at all. Can you give me some advice?
You are in a difficult position. What you are experiencing is called facial collapse. It is inevitable with dentures worn over a long period of time. What happens is that, once all your teeth are removed, your body begins to re-absorb all the minerals in your jawbone. This is what is causing the loss of your ridge. And, you are right, at some point you won’t be able to wear your dentures any more.
When it gets to that point, you will need bone grafting, which builds back the bone. Not all dentists, or even oral surgeons, will perform this procedure because it is quite complicated. You will have to hunt around for an implant dentist who is qualified to do that. Dr. Thein is, but would be quite a distance for you to travel. Check around your area for implant dentists who are experienced in bone grafting.
Once that procedure is done, you have several options:
1. You could just get removable dentures again. Bear in mind that in 10-20 years, you will have the same problem with facial collapse and have to do the procedure all over again.
2. The ideal treatment is to get dental implants. These place titanium posts, that take the place of your tooth roots, in your jawbone and prosthetic teeth are attached. The implants signal to your body that the jawbone is still needed and no minerals are reabsorbed. You’ll have no problems with facial collapse.
3. The more implants you have the better, because it helps you retain more bone. But, implants are pricey, and out of reach for some people. If that is your case, you can get something called snap-on dentures (also called overdentures). These have just two implants and your dentures will snap on to them.
I hope this helps, and I sure wish your dentist had warned you about this 20 years ago.
This blog is brought to you by Los Angeles implant dentist Dr. Robert Thein.