Pampered Palates

Implant-retained upper dentures for stability and comfort.

Rita* is a retired administrative assistant and a Staten Island native who relocated to Florida four years ago to flee the cold and snow of New York. But she couldn’t flee from a deteriorating dental issue that had been dogging her for years.Stock photo from istockphoto.com.
“I knew for a while I had a problem with my upper gums, but I kept putting off doing anything about it,” shares Rita. “Every time I went to the dentist, I’d hear the same thing about how my gums were receding.
“I had pain occasionally, and there was sensitivity because as my gums receded, more nerve was exposed. I was told to expect that.”
Dentists typically monitor progression of recession by measuring the gum pockets. These are the spaces between the edge of the gums and the teeth. The deeper these pockets become, the more likely it is that a tooth will loosen and the higher the risk of losing the tooth.
“I wanted to do something about my gums before my teeth fell out,” relates Rita. “When I first moved to Florida, I lived in Bradenton, and I went to a dentist there. He wanted to fit me for a denture, but I wasn’t sure about that then.
“When I decided it was the right time to get the work done, I started looking around for a dentist. I wanted dental implants, and since I was told I probably needed a denture, I went online and did research.”
Rita wanted a dentist with expertise in dentures and implants to do the job, and her search led her to Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, of Siesta Dental. Her search results described Dr. Gaukhman as an experienced, skillful dentist who offers exceptional general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry at his offices in Sarasota, Venice and Osprey. The dentist was also close to Rita’s new home in Venice, which was a bonus.
Rita’s mind was made up to visit Dr. Gaukhman when she read about his process for restoring smiles with implant-retained dentures in Florida Health Care News. She read that he makes the molds, extracts the teeth and creates a temporary denture in his in-office lab in one day.
“I wanted dental implants, and I saw that Dr. Gaukhman did implant surgery at Siesta Dental, so I went there,” recounts Rita. “I had all my top teeth removed and got a temporary denture the same day. I expected that, but I didn’t expect the denture to look so nice or the process to cause so little pain.”
“When Rita first arrived, she had badly receding gums,” confirms
Dr. Gaukhman. “When the gums recede due to periodontal disease, patients like Rita lose bone due to bacteria. The only treatment is to remove the teeth because those bacteria cannot be killed with just antibiotics.
“Rita had tried antibiotics and deep cleanings to treat her condition, but those attempts were unsuccessful. Her condition got worse until her upper teeth were no longer salvageable, so I extracted them and created a denture for her.”
While Rita was pleased with the appearance of her temporary denture, she was less than thrilled with the way it felt.
“It covered the roof of my mouth, and that was annoying, as well as a little uncomfortable,” she explains. “It didn’t hurt; it’s just that I couldn’t eat the way I wanted to because I couldn’t really bite into certain foods, like steak. I didn’t eat steak for six months.”

Secure Solution

Dental implants are screw-like posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone to serve, in Rita’s case, as the foundation for her denture. When they’re secured by implants, dentures don’t slip or move; they stay in place when patients speak and eat.
In most cases, upper dentures don’t require implants to keep them stable, notes Dr. Gaukhman. They generally fit securely because the palate enables the creation of sufficient suction to hold them in place. However, traditional upper dentures have some drawbacks that can be corrected by securing them with dental implants.
“The tongue is mainly responsible for discerning taste, but the palate, or roof of the mouth, plays a role as well,” informs the dentist. “When a denture is made for the upper jaw, it covers the palate, which can deprive patients of sensing the full range of tastes.

“I’m very happy with my decision to go to Siesta Dental and ecstatic about my results.” – Rita

“In addition, some patients have a gag reflex due to the denture being placed over the palate. With an implant-retained upper denture, the shape of the denture is more like a horseshoe instead of a full, palate-covering appliance. It frees up the taste buds and eliminates the gag reflex. Implant-retained upper dentures are simply more comfortable.”
When Dr. Gaukhman creates implant-retained lower dentures, he generally secures them with two implants. For upper dentures, however, he typically uses four implants.
“I use four implants on the top due to gravity,” he discloses. “Dentures work with or against gravity. Lower dentures move down with gravity, so two implants are sufficient. Implant-retained upper dentures have to work against gravity without the help of suction from the palate, so four implants keep them more securely in place.”

Lasting Impression

From the beginning, Rita wanted implants for her denture to ensure its stability. Keeping the appliance off her palate and more comfortable became another important consideration after wearing the temporary. With her permanent upper denture secured by implants, Rita has that comfort and stability, as well as strength for biting and chewing.
“I love my permanent denture,” she enthuses. “It’s much more comfortable because I don’t have a plate covering the roof of my mouth. And it’s so much easier to eat; I can eat anything I want now. I’ve already eaten steak, hamburgers, all sorts of things.
“Steak was one of the first things I ate after I got my denture. I won’t say it was worth a six-month wait, but it was pretty good. Just to be able to bite into a hamburger now is great.”
Comfort isn’t the only benefit of Rita’s new denture. She also likes its appearance and the ease of its wear and care.
“The new denture is wonderful,” she says. “Everybody tells me it looks absolutely natural. I really like that it doesn’t slip and slide all around. It snaps in and out. I take my denture out at night to clean it, snap it back in my mouth in the morning and I’m good to go.”
Rita says her overall experience with the process at Siesta Dental was very positive. She gives Dr. Gaukhman and his staff credit for making her visits to the practice as easy and pain free as possible.
“When I walk into that office, everybody is so nice, and they take good care of me,” she comments. “Personally, I’m one of those people who hate dentists, but I can’t hate these people. Dr. Gaukhman is great. He made me feel very comfortable about getting this work done.
“I only have good things to say about Dr. Gaukhman and his staff because they are just excellent. They are so friendly and caring. I’m very happy with the entire experience and my decision to go to Siesta Dental, and I’m ecstatic about my results. I recommend Dr. Gaukhman to anyone.”

*Patient name withheld at their request.
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