Dental Implants Keep Lower Denture Secured

After a broken tooth, gum infection, extractions and loose denture, her two-year dental odyssey ends.

Donna Wallace turned her affinity for numbers into a career. After earning a two-year degree in accounting from Oakland University in suburban Detroit, Donna held accounting positions at several companies in her native Michigan.

After being fit with a full upper denture, Donna received lower implants and a temporary lower denture.

“I chose accounting because I like numbers,” explains Donna, 82. “I like math and did very well in math in high school. I retired from the corporate office of a child care organization with a group of 357 centers across the country.

“I was a cash management accountant there for 12 years. I moved money from the bank when needed and pulled in funds from the 357 centers. When I retired in 2001, I moved to Florida to get away from the cold weather. I don’t like the winters in Michigan.”

Despite her disdain for the Midwest chill, Donna often travels back to the Great Lakes State to visit family and friends. During one trip in 2020, Donna experienced a worrying dental predicament.

“My daughter was driving me home to Florida when a tooth broke off underneath the gum,” Donna reports. “I went to my dentist, who told me I needed to visit an oral surgeon. He arranged an appointment with one who was supposedly covered by my insurance, but that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t believe it.”

Before Donna could find another dentist, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Then she developed another dental problem: a severe gum infection. Donna is convinced the broken tooth was responsible.

“The infection got really bad and caused me a lot of pain,” she recalls. “I could eat soft food and soups, but I couldn’t chew anything hard.”

Several weeks later, her dentist’s office reopened, but that came with a surprise.

“My dentist didn’t come back. He retired,” she laments.

Soon, the pain became unbearable.

“I woke up on a Saturday morning and just couldn’t handle it anymore,” Donna says. “My sister-in-law searched online for emergency dentists and found Venetian Dental. We got an appointment that day.”

Venetian Dental is the practice of Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, a general, cosmetic and emergency dentist who has offices in Sarasota, Venice and Osprey. After evaluating Donna’s situation, Dr. Gaukhman recommended a treatment plan to solve her problem.

“Donna’s existing dental work, which included partial upper and lower dentures, was compromised due to the gum infection,” Dr. Gaukhman recalls. “The condition also caused her remaining natural teeth to fail, and they were not savable.

“My recommendation was to extract her remaining teeth and create full upper and lower dentures, with the lower denture secured by dental implants. Donna chose, however, to proceed with traditional dentures on the top and bottom.”

That became problematic for Donna over the ensuing months.

“My bottom denture wouldn’t stay put,” she relates. “Whenever I chewed, the denture came loose. One day, I was eating chicken salad. The denture came loose and went sideways in my mouth. If it wasn’t so big, I would have swallowed it.”

Following that mishap, Donna returned to Dr. Gaukhman. This time, she accepted his recommendation that her lower arch be fit with a denture secured by dental implants.

Stabilizing Lower Dentures

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

The replacement teeth can be a 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.

Unlike upper dentures, which fit securely in the mouth because the palate creates sufficient suction to hold the appliances in place, lower dentures often require implants.

“There’s no palate in the lower jaw due to the location of the tongue, so less suction is produced,” Dr. Gaukhman asserts. “Consequently, lower dentures tend to slip and slide if they’re not supported by dental implants.

“It’s rare that someone can wear lower dentures that don’t bother them or stay tight without help. Securing a lower denture with dental implants is the most effective way to stabilize it. That’s why I recommended implants to secure Donna’s lower denture.”

In addition to staying in place when patients speak and eat, dentures secured by dental implants provide added strength for biting and chewing, according to Dr. Gaukhman, who notes other advantages of implant-secured dentures.

“Because the dentures are stable, patients experience better speech, better aesthetics and greater self-confidence,” he says. “And they don’t have to worry about the denture coming out during dinner, conversation or activity. Also, while teeth decay, implants never decay.”

“My upper denture works very well. And it looks very natural. I’m very happy with it.” – Donna

End-Result Anticipation

In most cases, Dr. Gaukhman offers patients Dentures in a Day, Venetian Dental’s single-visit smile-restoration technique. This process allows for the placement of implants on the same day the teeth are extracted. Typically, temporary dentures are created that day in an on-site laboratory.

“We begin the process by taking impressions of the patient’s teeth,” Dr. Gaukhman describes. “It takes a few hours for the lab to fabricate the dentures, but once they’re ready, we extract the teeth, seat the implants and place the dentures right away. This way, the denture acts as a bandage to minimize swelling and bleeding. Moreover, patients do not need to walk around without teeth.

“The patient wears the temporary denture for three to six months following the implant procedure. The time allows the implants to integrate with the jawbone and for the tissues to heal. The temporary denture is then replaced with a permanent appliance that attaches to the implants. Once the permanent dentures are placed, we make any necessary adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.”

Dr. Gaukhman didn’t use the Dentures in a Day technique with Donna. Following the extraction of her remaining teeth, she was fit with a full upper denture. Since then, she has received the lower implants and a temporary lower denture.

“My upper denture works very well, and it looks very natural,” Donna relates. “I’m very happy with the work Dr. Gaukhman did.”

Prior to the pandemic, Donna spent many evenings singing karaoke. Now, she enjoys the activities arranged by her senior living community, including playing a card game called Hand and Foot. She’s also involved in making blankets for the homeless.

“I’m 82 years old. I feel that it’s time for me to give back for all the wonderful things that have happened to me in my life,” Donna shares.

She includes meeting Dr. Gaukhman among those good things that have happened to her. Donna has great respect for the dentist who answered her call in an emergency.

“Dr. Gaukhman is a very good dentist,” she raves. “He was very reassuring and took good care of me. I highly recommend him and Venetian Dental. In fact, I recommended the practice to my brother, who’s a patient there now.”

© 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