Benefits Of Implants For Upper Dentures

Gain stability with no adhesives, other disadvantages of a standard dental appliance.

In his free time, Frank takes pleasure in his favorite activities, including woodworking.

Frank O’Brien spent the better part of a 47-year career in technology with a company that makes scale inhibitors for industrial water treatment systems. The inhibitors keep limescale and mineral crystals from forming on water pipes to ensure proper function.

“It was a technical position involving lots of leg work,” elaborates Frank, 63. “While with that company, I did work for the oil and gas industry and the fracking industry. Then one day, the company decided it didn’t need me anymore.

“Everything went down when COVID hit, and after that, they let me go. It was July 8, 2020. I was actually planning to retire this August. My company just beat me to it. They gave me a jump-start on retirement.

“I sold my home in Georgia and moved to Florida, where I had inherited a house from family. While I’m still looking for work, I’m kind of enjoying every day being Saturday.”

On those free days, Frank takes pleasure in his favorite pastimes.

“I do woodworking as a hobby,” he relates. “Sometimes, I sell my stuff, but mostly I do it for fun. I also like to fish and use my metal detector around Nokomis Beach. I’ve found a Pandora ring and lots of costume jewelry along with a lot of bottle caps and change. I throw everything I find in a box. Someday, I’ll count the change and see how much is there.”

While Frank knows how to relish his time, he also knows all too well the discomfort of longtime dental problems. He’s been struggling with his teeth since childhood.

“I had a bad experience with a dentist when I was 8 years old, and it stuck with me,” Frank reveals. “As a result, I neglected my teeth for years. I always brushed my teeth. I just never went to a dentist for cleanings.

“Eventually, I developed gum disease and things started going downhill. I underwent surgery and a deep cleaning by a periodontist in Georgia. I didn’t want to go through that again, so I began seeing a dentist every three months.”

Frank ultimately wanted to restore his smile. Upon relocating to Florida, he began looking for a dentist to do the job. His research led him to Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, a general, cosmetic and emergency dentist at Siesta Dental, which has offices in Sarasota, Venice and Osprey.

“I came across a story about Dr. Gaukhman’s practice in Florida Health Care News and decided to make an appointment,” Frank relates. “By then, I had suffered significant bone loss in my upper jaw due to the gum disease. Some of my teeth were loose, and Dr. Gaukhman said they were eventually going to fall out.”

Dr. Gaukhman evaluated Frank’s dental situation and created a solution for restoring Frank’s smile.

“Frank’s upper teeth were badly damaged from periodontal disease and bone loss and could not be salvaged,” Dr. Gaukhman reports. “His bottom teeth were not as severely damaged and were savable. My recommendation was to extract his upper teeth and replace them with a full denture.

“Frank didn’t want the denture to cover the roof of his mouth, or palate. Therefore, to replace his lost teeth I recommended a dental implant-supported upper denture, which is horseshoe-shaped and doesn’t overlay the palate.”

Discerning Taste

Dental implants are root-shaped, screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. Once the implant is in the jawbone, new bone naturally grows around it to form the foundation for an abutment and replacement teeth.

The replacement teeth can be a single crown that is cemented or screwed onto the abutment, a partial bridge that can be affixed to one or more implants, or a full denture that can be fastened to a series of implants.

“Generally, upper dentures fit securely in the mouth without dental implants because the palate creates sufficient suction to hold the appliances in place,” Dr. Gaukhman acknowledges. “There are instances, however, when dental implants are recommended.

“For one thing, traditional upper dentures typically lead to a decrease in taste. The tongue is mainly responsible for discerning taste, but the palate also plays a role. Because traditional dentures cover the palate, patients can be deprived of sensing the full complement of tastes. Implant dentures, on the other hand, leave the palate uncovered, improving taste.”

Another issue that can occur with traditional upper dentures is the gag reflex. Some patients experience this problem due to the denture being over the palate. By not covering the palate, implant dentures eliminate this gag reflex.

“Other benefits of implant-secured upper dentures include better stability because the denture is anchored directly to the jawbone,” Dr. Gaukhman observes. “Implant dentures also prevent bone atrophy and do not rub against the gums. And they’re more convenient because they don’t require messy adhesives to hold them in place.”

Lower dentures can typically be stabilized with two dental implants. Upper dentures, on the other hand, have to work against gravity so four implants are generally used to keep them secure. In treating Frank, Dr. Gaukhman placed four implants in the upper jaw.

“A Better Way to Go”

Prior to placing an implant, some patients require a bone graft designed to enhance the volume of the jawbone so that it can properly support the implant.

Bone grafts are typically done when the implants are placed. The implants then need three to six months to heal to where they can support a prosthetic. During the healing period, patients are usually fit with temporary replacement teeth.

Because he sustained significant bone loss in his upper jaw, Frank required bone grafts. He is wearing a temporary upper denture until his bone grafts and implants are strong enough to hold the permanent denture.

“I knew this process was going to take time,” Frank discloses. “A lot of healing goes on after the teeth are removed and the implants are placed. My bone has to heal around the implants to anchor them. I’m hoping to have my permanent denture by October.

“Still, I thought this was a better way to go than having a standard denture, which I’d have to hold in place using Fixodent® or another adhesive. My permanent denture will click onto the implants. It’ll snap in and out, making cleaning very easy. I’m pretty happy with my treatment so far, but I’m looking forward to getting my final upper denture.”

Frank is also happy with the provider he discovered in Florida Health Care News.

“Dr. Gaukhman is great. Very knowledgeable,” Frank raves. “He fully explained everything about the denture process before we started. His staff is very courteous and focused, and the hygienists who clean my teeth are very thorough. The care I get from Dr. Gaukhman and his staff is great. I highly recommend them.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Venetian Dental

      Venetian Dental is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile. Their state-of-the art dental offices offer the latest in dental technology and patient amenities. They provide comprehensive treatment planning, and use r... Read More

    • Alexander Gaukhman, DMD

      Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, earned his dental degree at Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry in Fort Lauderdale. He completed his undergraduate studies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Dr. Gaukhman is a diplomate of the ... Read More