Double-Duty Overdentures

The best solution for those with missing teeth and dry mouth

Mildred Virant has always struggled with her health. She had polio as a child, then a post-polio illness. Even as an adult, she’s battled health issues, which have taken a toll on her physically. Six years ago, she began having trouble walking and was confined to a wheelchair. A few years later, Mildred starting having trouble with her teeth as well.
“All of my life, I took care of my teeth, then I started losing them,” she recounts. “I had some teeth that just broke, and some had crowns on them that couldn’t be repaired. I didn’t know if it was because of my medication for the illnesses I have.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

An overdenture is the perfect solution with Mildred’s chronic dry mouth.

“I was having some pain, and with my broken teeth, it was tough to eat. I couldn’t chew at all on one side.” That made eating some of her favorite foods, such as steak, out of the question.
Mildred and her husband moved to Florida from New York in 1991 and initially settled in Boca Raton. They went to the dental clinic at Nova Southeastern University for their care and were assigned to a student in his final year. They were extremely impressed by the student and the care he provided.
When they later moved to Vero Beach and started looking for a dentist, they were surprised to discover Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach, the practice of Alfons Bucaj, DMD. He had been the dental student whom they’d grown to love and trust. Mildred was certain Dr. Bucaj would have an answer for her dilemma.
Dr. Bucaj remembered Mildred and her husband from when he was in dental school more than 15 years before. He knew Mildred well enough to understand the reason her dental health continued to deteriorate along with her physical health.
“The systemic medications Mildred takes for her physical illnesses dry out her mouth. This is a condition known as xerostomia, or dry mouth,” he reports. “When I first met her, she didn’t suffer from dry mouth as severely as she does today.
“Dry mouth creates a negative environment for the saliva and teeth. With this condition, saliva lacks the buffering capacity to well hydrate the mouth, and its acidic level is altered. These changes make the natural teeth very vulnerable to cavities and breakdown.”
Initially, Dr. Bucaj placed four dental implants on the bottom of her mouth to replace her missing bottom teeth.
“I was okay like that for a while, and then I started having more trouble with the top. He suggested implants with a one-piece appliance I can put in and take out. It’s not a regular denture; there’s a difference. He explained everything thoroughly, so I went with it.”

Dry Mouth Complications

Because of her dry mouth, Mildred’s upper teeth broke down one tooth at a time. Dr. Bucaj was eventually forced to remove her remaining teeth. That meant the partial denture she wore would have to become a full denture.
Traditional dentures, however, sit directly on the gums, but tend to slide and move. In people with dry mouth, this often causes inflammation of the gum tissue due to the lack of hydration. It also results in decreased function.
Dr. Bucaj recommended an overdenture for Mildred’s upper arch. Unlike a traditional denture, an overdenture is secured by dental implants so it doesn’t slip or move when eating or speaking.

“The teeth are beautiful. They’re perfect, just like regular teeth. You’d never ever know they’re not my real teeth.” – Mildred

“In Mildred’s case, a traditional denture was not going to work. I had to use another system. I chose the implant-retained hybrid, or overdenture,” explains Dr. Bucaj. “An overdenture supported by implants takes the prosthetic off of the gum tissue and allows for tissue hydration and breathing. This decreases inflammation.
“An implant-supported overdenture is also a very functional option. Their added security improves chewing function. With the lack of a permanent anchor, such as an implant, traditional dentures can slip while eating, reducing chewing power.”
“Now, I have no teeth of my own on the top,” confirms Mildred. “I have the implants. They’re individual, but the overdenture is one piece attached to them.”
“An implant-supported overdenture is one of the best solutions for people with severe xerostomia, like Mildred,” observes Dr. Bucaj. “In fact, it’s really the only long-term solution for people in that situation.”

Steak for Dinner

After years of experience with Dr. Bucaj, Mildred trusted him to find the right solution to her dental problem. She is overjoyed with his recommendation and its results.
“The overdenture with the implants is wonderful,” enthuses Mildred. “I don’t even know it’s in there, and I don’t need to take it out every day. I take it out every few days, clean it and put it back in. It’s like my real teeth.
“The overdenture is beautiful. The teeth are beautiful. They’re perfect, just like regular teeth,” she marvels. “You’d never ever know they’re not my real teeth.
“It’s not like having some kind of denture or plate. I can sleep with it in. I have no trouble chewing – I’m eating steak now – and I have no pain.”
Mildred’s dental relationship with Dr. Bucaj began more than 15 years ago, and she’s still a satisfied patient today. She’s thrilled by the treatment she receives from Dr. Bucaj and his staff.
“I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Bucaj,” she states. “He’s very knowledgeable, and always takes his time, getting me in the chair and everything. He always treats me well. He’s very kind and gentle.
“Everyone at the office is great,” she remarks, “from the receptionist to the office manager to the dental assistant. They all know what they’re doing, and they’re all nice and friendly. It’s like visiting family, going in there.
“I highly recommend Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach, and I highly recommend Dr. Bucaj. I think the world of him. He’s a very caring person. Dr. Bucaj is just marvelous!”

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    • Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach

      Dentist Al Bucaj, DMD, in Vero Beach, Florida practices a full scope of general and cosmetic dentistry with expertise ranging from porcelain veneers to dental implants, crowns and bridges. Dr. Bucaj can now correct a wide variety of what were... Read More

    • Alfons Bucaj, DMD

      Alfons Bucaj, DMD, is a diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and the American Board of Oral Implantology. He is also an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Dr. Bucaj graduated from Nova So... Read More