Dr. Jay Lopez, not only enjoys customization of the highest quality dentures, but he also has studied advanced, in-depth denture procedures and has expertise and experience in a wide range of treatments for patients with missing teeth.
What are dentures?
Dentures are appliances that are made to replace a person’s missing teeth. They can restore your function and even improve your smile. Today’s custom fabricated dentures are nearly undetectable. A “full” denture is used when all of the teeth are missing on the upper or lower arch. A “partial” denture is used when only some of the teeth are missing. And, today, there are treatment options that include dental implants for better-than-ever long-lasting results.
What are the different types of dentures?
Full Dentures are made of an acrylic plastic base that is colored to look like gum tissue, and they support a full set of prosthetic teeth. Traditionally, a full denture is held in the mouth by forming a seal with the gums, but today, full dentures can be supported on dental implants that are surgically placed in the jawbone. This provides for more stability.
Partial Dentures are typically made with an acrylic plastic base that supports the number of teeth that need to be replaced and looks like natural gum tissue. Partial dentures are held in the mouth by using clasps and rests that are attached to the adjacent natural teeth. The partial denture that uses a metal framework is the traditional design, due to the rigidity and strength of the metal. Today, there are multiple materials (including flexible Valplast) and forms of partial dentures but all partial dentures attach to adjacent teeth and have a gum-colored portion meant to blend into the existing gum tissue. Partial dentures are removable by the patient for cleaning.
Combination Partial Dentures are made to show as little metal as possible. The clasps are designed in flexible, clear, tooth colored or pink acrylic to minimize their appearance.
Dental Bridges and prosthetic teeth placed on Dental Implants are two alternatives to partial dentures. In the case of a bridge, a prosthetic tooth is suspended between two dental crowns, and these crowns cover the two natural teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth. In the case of a dental implant, the prosthetic tooth is placed on top of an implant that has been placed in the jawbone to take the place of natural tooth roots. Both of these alternatives “fix” the prosthetic tooth in place and it is not removed for cleaning. The patient flosses and brushes as if the prosthesis is a natural tooth. If more than one adjacent tooth is missing, a bridge can consist of multiple suspended prosthetic teeth. Similarly, a multiple-teeth prosthesis can be attached to one or more implants. The attachments that lock the denture into place are not visible.
Implant Supported Dentures are full or partial dentures snapped into place on implants surgically placed in your jaw. They can be removed at night for cleaning. There are two types of implant-supported dentures—ball retained and bar retained. In the Bar-Retained type of denture, three or more implants are surgically placed in the gums. Attached to these implants is a metal bar that runs along the gum line. The denture then rests on the metal bar and is attached using clips or other types of attachments. In the Ball-Retained type, a ball and socket is used to attach the denture to each implant.
Mini Implants often can be used with full or partial implant-supported dentures. Each miniature implant acts like a tooth root. It not only supports the denture but also stimulates bone growth, reducing jawbone atrophy. Dr. Lopez can quickly and easily insert the mini implants using local anesthesia or sedation to help make you more comfortable. This is a one-step procedure that involves minimally invasive surgery. There are no sutures, pain or months of post-operative healing prior to receiving your denture. After impressions of your mouth are made and Dr. Lopez designs the denture with the lab, the placement of the mini implants and attachment of a custom denture can be achieved in one day
Hybrid (All-on-4) Dentures are a fixed alternative to full dentures. They are called “All-on-4” because edentulous patients can have upper and lower dentures fixed on as few as 4 dental implants in each jaw. A hybrid denture can also be fixed on just one jaw, depending on the needs and desire of the patient. This is an especially desirable type of denture for the lower jaw where a traditional full denture has less adhesion and the tongue easily dislodges it.
A benefit of hybrid dentures, compared to traditional dentures, is the reduction of bone loss where the implants are placed, making the procedure more successful in the long run and helping to preserve facial structural integrity. Many times, bone enhancement procedures such as a sinus lift or alveolar bone graft are not needed prior to all-on-4 treatment.
Immediate Dentures are temporary ones of minimal cost that can be worn under some circumstances while your bone and gum tissues heal after tooth loss or extraction and while your partial or full permanent denture is being fabricated. Dr. Lopez will discuss the possibility of this option with you.
What is the process like?
After a tooth is extracted or lost, it takes a few months before the bone and gum tissues have healed and reach a stable shape. If a diseased or broken tooth will be replaced with dental implant treatment, Dr. Lopez can prepare the tooth socket at the time he extracts the tooth with osseous material that heals into the jawbone and will provide a stable foundation for the implant.
If you are having dental implants or mini implants, implant procedures can be done under local anesthetic or sedation. Dr. Lopez provides the option of IV or oral sedation for patients who want to be unaware of the surgery as it occurs.
When the jawbone and gum are stable, Dr. Lopez makes an impression of the oral tissues that will support the denture. His dental lab creates a model of your mouth and fabricates your custom denture to ensure proper fit and occlusion (how your teeth will come together when you chew, bite and speak). But, before the definitive denture is created, a wax-up model is made of your mouth and denture(s) to determine the optimal position of your jaw and teeth. And, a trial denture is created and tried in your mouth to evaluate its fit, comfort, occlusal function, and esthetics. This can be adjusted by Dr. Lopez and the lab before your final denture or dentures are made of the highest quality materials. After the final denture(s) are inserted in your mouth, the occlusion is checked and modified if necessary. A proper occlusion (the way the teeth come together) will ensure comfort and longevity.
The form and esthetics of the denture will be lifelike, and it will be shaded to match the color of your remaining natural teeth. Dr. Lopez may recommend teeth bleaching prior to this shade matching so you have your preferred color when you smile. You then can do touch up bleaching over time to maintain a harmonious gradation of preferred color in your smile.
Dr. Lopez uses a top U.S. based dental lab and insists on the latest, highest quality dental materials, ensuring the most beautiful esthetics and long-lasting function.
What happens after you receive the denture?
You will be given detailed instructions on what to expect and do as you get used to wearing your denture, and how to clean and maintain your denture. Dr. Lopez will have you return to our office soon after placement of your denture to evaluate if any adjustments are needed for comfort.
What is it like to wear a removable denture?
One of the first things you may notice is that you have increased saliva production. This will gradually go back to normal over a period of days as you wear your denture.
Dentures are generally worn during the day and taken out at night to give the oral tissues time to relax, but during the first few days after receiving the denture, it is best to keep it in the mouth while sleeping in order for Dr. Lopez to identify areas that need adjustment. This is especially important if you are given an immediate (temporary) denture after teeth extraction. The gum tissues will swell as part of the natural healing process, and you might not be able to reinsert the denture if you take it out. Dr. Lopez will provide instructions for your unique circumstances during this initial period of a few days.
You will quickly learn how to insert and take our your denture for cleaning and while you sleep. You also will quickly learn to eat with your denture. We recommend starting with soft foods and chewing food equally on both sides of the mouth. Slowly introduce more solid foods, and avoid chewy or sticky foods. Once your cheeks and tongue get used to the denture, they will begin to automatically help keep the denture in place.
Speaking requires a little practice but you will easily get the hang of it. If you find it is coming loose frequently, for example, when you yawn and laugh, you should return for Dr. Lopez to evaluate if it can be adjusted.
A small amount of denture adhesive (also called “denture cream”) can be applied evenly to the clean surface of a denture to “paste” it to the palate of the mouth. Various denture adhesives are available over the counter at your drug store and super market. Although a cream may add some stability, if your denture is not fitting properly, you should not delay seeing Dr. Lopez until your next regular checkup. Call him for a more immediate appointment.
When it comes to cleaning your removable denture, handle it with care. You should place it in a container of cool or room temperature water, or in a container of denture cleaning solution when it is not being worn. Hot water may cause your denture to warp. You should gently clean you denture daily using a soft toothbrush with soap and water. While your denture is removed, also rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial mouth rinse to reduce bacteria and the risk of developing candidiasis (a fungal infection of the mouth, also known as “thrush”).
There are a lot of different denture products that can be purchased at any drugstore or your local supermarket to help with caring for and cleaning dentures.
What is it like to wear an implant-supported denture?
Although this type of denture is removable by the patient for cleaning, it is more stable than a conventional denture. Thus, it is more comfortable.
What is it like to wear a denture fixed on dental implants?
If you have a hybrid overdenture that is permanently attached on dental implants, only a dentist will be able to remove it. You will wear it 24 hours a day and clean your denture just like you do natural teeth with flossing, brushing and rinsing. Because it is totally stable and does not cover the entire palate of the mouth, you will find eating more enjoyable. The strength of you bite will enable you to eat all the food you enjoy. Because it never slips or becomes dislodged, you will smile, laugh, talk and eat with confidence.
What do dentures cost?
Denture prices vary depending on the type of denture and materials used. Because of the customization and materials, let alone the dentist’s and lab’s time, you will be hard pressed to find a conventional set of full upper and lower dentures for under $2,000. The highest quality, most comfortable and long lasting set of full dentures will cost more. The costs are relative to more than the materials. The costs are also based the time, care, knowledge and skill of experts willing to guarantee their work and make any necessary adjustments during the first 12 months of wear.
Dr. Lopez’s dentures that are stabilized or retained on implants cost more than conventional removable dentures due to the high cost of dental implant parts. But, keep in mind that these dentures last longer than the typical 5 years (often 10 years and more) so there will be less frequent replacement and correction of your denture, costing you more over time.
Hybrid (All-on-4) denture treatment is the most expensive. The cost will depend on whether failing teeth need to be extracted, sedation is used, more than 4 implants are involved, and there are any bone or gum enhancement procedures. For many patients, the hybrid type of denture is the only good solution for their circumstances, and they are ecstatic about the results. Because Dr. Lopez performs most oral surgery procedures involved in dental implant treatment, it is a rare occurrence that a patient has to be referred to an oral surgeon outside the practice.
Dr. Lopez is known for doing the highest quality dentistry, including the most naturally beautiful esthetic dentures that predictably last, so whether you choose a conventional denture or a dental implant supported or retained one, you can be assured of quality. He will do his best to make your dentures affordable and not cut corners on function, esthetics and comfort.
If you have a dental benefits plan, keep in mind that your plan may cover some or all of the cost of dentures. We also offer financing options, including interest-free financing for 12 months.
How long do dentures last?
If the occlusion is properly designed and your denture is cared for properly, it should last a minimum of 5 years and can last up to 10 years. Over time, the bone shrinks and causes the denture to become loose. The rate that this happens varies with each individual and can be reduced significantly if the denture is supported and retained on dental implants. Bone atrophy is accelerated if your denture does not fit properly, so see Dr. Lopez on a regular schedule and call for a more immediate appointment if you experience a change in how your denture fits.
To prolong the life of a denture, Dr. Lopez can use a denture liner to refit the internal surface of the denture to your oral tissues. If parts of your denture become loose, or if the prosthetic teeth or acrylic base become chipped or cracked, do not risk doing a poor repair yourself with a denture repair kit sold in drugstores. Call us as soon as possible. Minor fixes can usually be done in the dental lab within 2 days.
Can I meet with Dr. Lopez to discuss my options and get a free estimate of cost?
Yes. Dr. Jay Lopez offers complimentary initial consultations so you can learn what is possible for your circumstances, ask questions, discuss your concerns and desires, and learn the relative costs of the various options that are most appropriate for you.