The Any-Time Treatment

Age is no barrier to getting implant-retained dentures.

At 95, Theodore Larson has been retired for quite a few years. The US Navy veteran worked in the research center at NASA in his native Virginia. There, he developed equipment for space operations. He’d already been retired a while when he moved with his family to the Sunshine State.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Theodore will sing for anyone who will listen.

“My wife and I came to Florida around 1985,” Theodore recalls. “My son transferred from NASA in Virginia to Kennedy in Florida. His first son was in his second year of high school, and we came to Florida to bring my grandson and get him enrolled into school.”
There is little that Theodore’s age keeps him from doing. He was an active tennis player until he was 86, when a serious fall on the court ended his game. Even now, he works around the house and still sings regularly at church with the choir and wherever anyone will listen to him. When he struggled with a dental issue, he didn’t let his age interfere with the solution.
“When I was in the Navy, I didn’t pay that much attention to my teeth, and spots developed in them that required serious dental work,” he admits. “The Navy put quite a few gold fillings in my teeth that lasted many years. But when I went to get them replaced, I had to get rid of most of that dental work and have my teeth pulled.
“I had false teeth on the upper and lower jaw for years after that. I knew all along the lower denture would be a problem. It didn’t have the suction you have with the upper denture, so I lived with a loose bottom denture. I had to avoid eating anything except softer foods that wouldn’t put too much pressure on the bottom plate because it moved.”
Theodore accepted the struggles brought on by that loose lower denture until he saw an article in Florida Health Care News about the treatment provided by Alfons Bucaj, DMD, at Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach.
Theodore had asked another dentist about dental implants and was told he did not have enough bone in his lower jaw to support them. He wondered if Dr. Bucaj would agree or accept him as an implant patient.
“I read about what Dr. Bucaj did for somebody else, so I contacted him and went to see him,” states Theodore. “He took a good look and said that even at my age, he could do the job. He assured me he could put in the implants without any problem.”
Dental implants are screw-like metal posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone and serve as the foundation for replacement teeth. The replacements may be crowns in the case of single teeth or bridges or dentures for multiple teeth. Implants are made of a titanium alloy that fuses with the patient’s bone to become a solid unit.

Quality Over Quantity

When determining whether a patient is a good candidate for implants, dentists must first learn if the patient has a bone structure strong enough to support the implants. In Theodore’s case, it appeared to the naked eye as if he had indeed lost too much bone tissue to support implants. However, Dr. Bucaj uses advanced technology that goes beyond measuring quantity and evaluates the quality of the bone as well.
“We use three-dimensional scanning that enables us to visualize the bone’s height, width and density, which is something we could not do in the past,” informs Dr. Bucaj. “When considering implants, we look for dense bone to hold the implants in place mechanically.
“Often, our elderly patients have outstanding bone quality – better even than younger patients because their bone has had more time to cure. It has become very dense over time. I was able to tell Theodore that although he had lost bone, he had dense bone and enough of it to hold the implants and secure his bottom denture. That’s why there is no correlation between age and candidacy for dental implants. Age is simply not a factor.”

“With my dental implants, I can now chew a good steak. I had to avoid that with my old false teeth.” – Theodore

For Theodore, Dr. Bucaj made a removable lower denture that snaps in over the two dental implants he placed in Theodore’s lower jaw. When creating removable appliances like this for older patients, Dr. Bucaj adapts the snap-in system to accommodate the patient’s manual dexterity.
“We have locking mechanisms with three attachment and gasket strengths, and we choose which to use depending on the patient’s ability to use their hands,” confirms Dr. Bucaj. “We use one for people who are not as dexterous and another for those who are able to remove and replace the dentures with no problems. Theodore had no issues with dexterity.”

Better Fit and Function

No matter their age, people experience multiple benefits from implant-retained dentures. Because the dentures are secured by implants, they don’t rock or move; they stay in place when wearers speak and eat.
Secured dentures also provide added strength for biting and chewing. As a result, wearers such as Theodore are able to eat the hard-to-chew foods they love as well as the high-nutrient foods they need, which aids in digestion and improves overall nutrition and health.
“I love to eat,” Theodore enthuses. “With my dental implants, I can now chew a good steak. I had to avoid that with my old false teeth. The new denture also improved my smile.”
That improved smile is yet another benefit of implant-retained dentures, explains Dr. Bucaj.
“An implant-retained denture can help stop the deterioration of a patient’s natural face contours,” the doctor notes. “It keeps the bone in the jaw alive and stimulated and helps reduce shrinkage from long-term tooth loss. Implant-retained dentures improve people’s appearance and help them regain their self-confidence.”
Even though Theodore wore upper and lower dentures for years, he had to get used to having his lower denture fit more securely in his mouth. He likes that although his lower denture no longer slips and slides, he can still remove it for daily hygiene care.
“I generally take my dentures out in the evening, clean them and then put them aside,” he describes. “When I’m ready to put my lower denture back in, I just pop it in and it works fine.”
Thanks to Dr. Bucaj’s expertise, Theodore’s age was not a deterrent to getting dental implants. He’s thankful he found such a skilled dentist.
“I’m delighted with Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach and especially Dr. Bucaj,” he marvels. “I’m very impressed by his capability and follow-through. He knows what he is doing, and everything went perfectly. I’ve had no problems whatsoever, and I’m very happy with my experience and my results!”

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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