Dentures: They are the end of the line, right? This is where a person’s neglect of their hygiene, or unfortunate genetics, or just plain and simple old age has brought them. No more teeth, just a glass beside the bed with a foaming tablet. Pretty sexy, right?
Well, as the title of this blog suggests, I plan to argue that dentures, can be a very useful, positive, and life-altering treatment. Modern technology and materials have allowed us to create wonderful prosthetic appliances for our patients. So I’ll just come right out and say it: WE MAKE A PRETTY GREAT SET OF DENTURES. We take multiple measurements and consult with the patient about their preferences on appearance and make a custom prosthetic that our patients are often very proud of, even if it’s a secret pride.
In our office, the need for dentures typically arises when a patient’s teeth and their gum tissue is past the point of saving with modern restorative techniques. We try to save every tooth in our patients’ mouths, but there is a point where the bill for these very precise restorations and healing therapies with lasers and space age porcelain becomes unrealistically high.
And what if the patient either has a degenerative disorder, or just doesn’t care to use a toothbrush? Will you be repeating these same restorations 5-10 years later with the same unrealistically high price tag? Of course not.
Meanwhile, the bacteria and other bugs in the hypothetical patient’s mouth are entering the bloodstream and circulating around the body. There is often an odor associated with this type of dental decay, and heaven knows, most likely, this person is not winning a beauty contest any time soon. So the modern dentist is in a quandary at this point. If the dentist tells the patient that he/she ought to consider dentures, they’re going to be aghast, and if the dentist gives them the estimate for a full restoration, they’re liable to stand up, slap the dentist, and storm out of the office!
These wonderful transformations that you see on television, when outfits like those big implant offices are buying up swaths of paid programming, are hardly ever shown to be denture cases, but here’s the dirty little secret: They essentially are. Check these babies out:
These are the dentures of the future! Implant supported, full arch dentures. Just look at them. They are very pretty. They are very natural looking and feeling. They are held tight into your mouth on 12 precision placed titanium implants, 6 on the top, and 6 on the bottom. Hey, if you’re going to pull all of your teeth, this is the way to go. The advantages are very clear for this type of treatment. Your bone around the implants tends to do better. If you keep everything clean and tidy, you keep the bone that you have, instead of it eroding away so that you look like this:
What businesses like those big implant offices don’t tell you during their daily 20 minute infomercial is that this treatment, from start to finish, these amazing makeovers take more like six months instead of one day, and cost somewhere around $35,000. They also don’t tell you that every 6 months that you should schedule a cleaning that, at present, costs about $700. This is not a service that those big implant offices provide, so you’re on your own. This 6 month appointment is for another dentist to unscrew these awesome little marvels of dentistry from your skull for thorough cleaning.
So what do you do hypothetical patient with the bad teeth? You’re mouth is an unhealthy bacterial orgy of pain and dysfunction and not too pretty to look at, and you’re facing a $35,000 bill!
Here’s what we do: Before we even start talking about price, we ask our patients questions. We ask important questions like, “What’s more important to you, smiling or eating? What’s the thing that bothers you the most regarding your current condition? Do you think you’ll be able to perform regular maintenance and cleaning on your appliances or restorations?”
From just sitting down and finding out what is most important, Dr. Richter usually comes up with more than one plan to suit your specific needs, and it is usually not, “Let’s pull all of your teeth and put 12 implants in.” We use a mixture of denture, bridge, and implant technology to suit the patient’s needs so that the $35,000 bill transforms into something more realistic. Some people need that much dentistry, and some people don’t, here is one such story:
Wanda no happy.
Would you like to know why? She has some dentures that she refuses to wear because they don’t fit right, so she can’t chew with them, and they look something like this:
Hubba hubba! This was to show us what actual teeth looked like, and judging from her last experience, I don’t blame her. When I first talked to her daughter on the phone, I could tell she was distraught. She was just handed an estimate for Wanda’s new dentures that totaled just over $20,000 and wanted to know what we would charge for such a service. I furrowed my brow and started to tappity-tap on the front desk’s computer knowing full well that even if you coated a new pair of dentures in gold, they wouldn’t be THAT much!
Wanda’s daughter began to reveal the dentist (who incidentally is from a local practice that makes wonderful dentures) and the services and prices that they were charging. The treatment plan, quite frankly, was a Maserati of a treatment plan. I asked a few questions about what was important to Wanda, and we estimated that we could do something similar for a little less than half the price. So check it out:
We got done, and suffice it to say, the results were somewhat emotional. Wanda was happy, her daughter was happy, and we were happy to help, because WE MAKE A PRETTY GREAT SET OF DENTURES, yes we do. When I think of the things that Wanda (Who is an amazing and fantastic lady, by the way. Just in case you couldn’t tell!) was struggling over and doing without, I get a little emotional thinking about how positively this has affected her life. Look at that smile! The world is a better place with it than without it!