My wife is only 57 yrs old and she has full upper dentures. I am watching her go through periods of deep depression as we both notice that her face is starting to sag. She is very active and very conscious about her appearance. Unfortunate circumstances in life led to loss of most of her teeth and dentures were recommended 6 years ago. I will do what I have to so she can get her confidence back. Will dental implants help her face regain its shape? Thanks Tomas
Tomas – The first step is for your wife to receive an evaluation from a skilled implant dentist who will determine if she is a candidate for dental implants. Your wife’s medical history needs to be reviewed and diagnostic studies are needed.
Teeth are necessary to stimulate jawbone growth and retention. The jawbone supports teeth and facial muscles and tissue, including the cheeks, chin, and lips. When your teeth are missing and facial sagging occurs, it means that jawbone shrinkage has started. When dentures rest on the jawbone, it accelerates shrinkage. Individual dental implants or implant-supported dentures can help.
Dental implants help preserve jawbone. But they also require sufficient jawbone density to support them. When bone grafting is needed there are several options.
- Autograft – This process harvests your own bone tissue. Depending on where you have adequate bone density that can be used for grafting, the bone can be harvested from the back of your jaw, or from your chin, shin, or hip. This is the safest, most effective means of grafting.
- Allograft – The source is human cadaver bone from a reputable tissue bank. Donors are screened for infectious disease, and the tissue is thoroughly processed and sterilized. There are risks though, which are similar to the risks of blood transfusion.
- Xenograft – Bone tissue is provided from an animal. Commonly, cow bone is used. Tissue banks screen the tissue for safety.
- Alloplast – There are various types of synthetic bone tissue available. Based on your needs and current research, the implant surgeon will determine what is best for your case.
We recommend that you and your wife schedule a few consultations with skilled prosthodontists. A prosthodontist has two years of post-graduate training specific to the replacement and restoration of teeth. Prepare questions for the consultation and take notes to compare the options and risks explained by each specialist. Your preparation will help you and your wife make an informed decision about her oral health.
This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.