Dental Implants Keep Lower Denture Secured

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

Nina* turned her affinity for numbers into a career. After earning a two-year degree in accounting from Oakland University, the second largest university in the Detroit metropolitan area, Nina held accounting positions at several companies in her native Michigan.

“I chose accounting because I like numbers. I like math and did very well in math in high school,” explains Nina, 82. “I retired from the corporate office of a child care organization called Childtime Child Care (now Childtime Learning Centers). It was a group of 357 child care centers across the country.

“I was a cash management accountant for Childtime 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, Nina often travels back to the Great Lakes State to visit family and friends. During one trip in 2020, Nina experienced a worrying dental predicament.

“My daughter was driving me home to Florida when a tooth broke off underneath the gum,” Nina 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.”

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and her dentist was required to close his office. Shortly after, Nina developed another dental problem: a severe gum infection. She’s 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.

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

Soon, the pain became unbearable.

“I woke up on a Saturday morning and couldn’t handle it anymore,” Nina 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 Venice, Sarasota and Osprey. After evaluating Nina’s situation, Dr. Gaukhman recommended a treatment plan to solve her problem.

“Nina’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. Nina chose, however, to proceed with traditional dentures on the top and bottom.”

That became problematic for Nina over the ensuing months.

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

“Dr. Gaukhman said that’s pretty standard. If you’re going to have problems with your dentures staying in, it’s going to be your bottom denture that you have trouble with.”

So, she returned to Venetian Dental in 2022 and received two dental implants to secure her lower dentures.

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 to remain in place.

“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 Nina’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 several 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 do.”

End-Result Anticipation

In most cases, Dr. Gaukhman offers patients Dentures in a Day, Venetian Dental’s single-visit smile-restoration technique. That process allows for the placement of the 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 Nina. Following the extraction of her remaining teeth, she was fit with a full upper denture. Since then, she received the lower implants and a temporary lower denture.

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

Until the pandemic, Nina 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,” Nina shares.

She includes meeting Dr. Gaukhman among those good things that have happened to her. Nina 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.”

Palate Pleaser

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.

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

“It was a technical position involving lots of legwork,” 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. After that, they let me go. It was July 8, 2020. I was actually planning to retire in August, but my company beat me to it. They gave me a jump-start on retirement.”

Frank then decided to sell his home in Georgia and move to Florida, where he inherited a house from family. So far, he’s enjoying “every day being Saturday” because it allows him to take 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 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 Dr. Gaukhman.

“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 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.

“However, 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

Upper dentures typically stay secure without implants due to the suction produced by the palate. There are instances, however, where implants are recommended.

“Because traditional dentures cover the palate, patients can be deprived of sensing the full complement of tastes,” Dr. Gaukhman reports. “Implant dentures, on the other hand, leave the palate uncovered, improving taste.”

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

“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 was fit with a temporary upper denture to wear 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.

“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 quite 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. Frank’s photo by Jordan Pysz.mkb
*Patient’s name changed at her request.
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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