I have a terrible fear of the dentist and pretty much only go when I need a tooth pulled. I’m 50 years old and missing a large number of teeth at this point and feel like I need to get dentures. Do I go to a dentist or an oral surgeon for that?
I’m sorry for the struggles you’ve encountered. Many times, when someone is dealing with dental anxiety it is a result of trauma in the past with a dentist, often in childhood. This causes many patients to only go in for treatment when they have a dental emergency, such as you’ve done.
I would go to the dentist who is going to do the dentures for the extractions. If you go to two practitioners, one for the extractions and one for the dentures, there will need to be perfect communication. Denture preparation is something most dentists know how to do.
Because of your dental anxiety, I’m going to suggest you use a dentist who has sleep dentistry available. This will allow you to get your dental work done without any anxiety. In fact, if you want, you can nap through the entire procedure.
A Danger with Dentures
Before you settle on dentures, I want you aware of what you’re getting into. Even the best fitting dentures will reduce chewing capacity by 50%. The dentures for your top arch are held in by suction and the bottom ones just sit on the ridge of your jawbone. This is where the biggest problem arises.
When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes you no longer have any teeth roots. In an effort to be efficient, it resorbs the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere in your body. This causes your jawbone to slowly shrink. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone left to support your denture. This is known as facial collapse. Because of your young age, this is especially important for you.
The Solution to Facial Collapse
The best way to prevent facial collapse is to have dental implants placed in your jaw. These will mimic the roots of your teeth and let your body know you still need the bone to retain teeth. With about four to six implants you can anchor dentures to them. These are known as implant overdentures and will completely eliminate the problems caused by dentures.
This blog is brought to you by Lexington, KY Dentist Dr. John Weaver.