With state-of-the-art technologies available today, dentists can maintain the existing teeth and offer a multiple of solutions to replace missing teeth.
Why would someone need dentures? Is there a genetic component?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: There is absolutely. As in most things in life, there’s going to be a genetic component. Life is not completely fair. Some people severely neglect their teeth and for whatever reason don’t seem to have a problem with gum disease or tooth decay. For most people, they do have the ability to save their teeth and hopefully never get to the need of having to have dentures. If it should come to that point, there are multiple different options where we can talk about partial dentures or complete dentures or implant dentures. It’s on a very case-specific basis. After a thorough examination, we’ll determine what kind of denture or partial denture someone may need and talk to them about the other options, fixed or removable. With today’s technology, it’s pretty amazing what we can do. We can get you restored back to pretty much where you were before we ever met.
With today’s technological advantages, are there alternatives to dentures?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: We can do dentures that are placed in that are held in place by implants. Those can be either by screw-retained or they can snap in and be removable. We also can actually put implants in and make individual teeth on individual implants. There are many separate different ways and different costs that we can help people with their options. Really, the sooner we get to evaluate their particular case and determine which teeth can be saved, which ones maybe can’t be saved, it’s a pretty exciting business right now of discussing with people and showing them what their options are at this point.
If someone chooses to get dentures, what is the process like for getting them?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: First we would start with a thorough examination and then x-rays of the bone structure and the teeth, and determine if we’re going to remove all of the remaining teeth or if there are no remaining teeth, if the patient is happy with conventional dentures. We’re very confident that we can make them look beautiful. Some people can tolerate them very well. Other people have larger gag reflexes. Even if we make the most perfect set of dentures that we would be proud to show our colleagues, some people still struggle with that.
At that point, we frequently can talk about placing a couple implants and attaching a couple, or we can talk about other options where we can do multiple implants and give people teeth very quickly. It’s really (again like I said) an exciting part and I think it’s very important for the patient to be part of the determination of what treatment we decide to do.
Do people have a hard time adjusting to eating and speaking with dentures?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: Generally, when we put the denture in, aesthetics are usually the easy part. We can always make them look very nice. Some people do struggle a little bit just as children struggle when they get a retainer in. Something covers the roof of the mouth and they have to practice over pronunciating their words a little bit. If we change the position of the front teeth, we’ll do certain phonetic exercises – fish, silly Sally, things like that – to make sure that the teeth are in the correct position. There is a little bit of a learning curve with that.
If somebody already has a complete set of dentures and we’re just making a new set, we have the luxury of being able to try things in. We’ll make sure that you can be able to speak and it’s comfortable and aesthetically it’s pleasing. We also ask people to bring their harshest critic, their spouse, their neighbor, their sibling, whoever they would like, to make sure we can all talk together about it because there’s a variation of normal. We’re very comfortable that we can make patients very happy with their dentures.
If people maintain great dental health and oral hygiene throughout their lives, can they avoid dentures?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: That’s going to be the goal for the majority of our patients in our current generation. Unfortunately, not everybody is concerned about it until it’s too late. One of the common things in the periodontal field is periodontal disease doesn’t hurt until it hurts. People don’t know that they have periodontal disease. I can hear people in the mall, in the gym, talking to other people that they haven’t been to the dentist in 20 years and nothing hurts. That makes me really nervous because we don’t know what’s going on at the bone level until actually it’s too late.
For people now, if they go every 6 months and have their teeth cleaned and evaluated, there’s no reason why they should need to get dentures. If we have somebody who has a specific genetic problem, they’re going to know ad nauseam. It’s not going to be a surprise that they’re having a problem. Other people are already in a situation where they’ve lost some bone and they’re missing some teeth. Those are the people that we’re focusing on, to show what state-of-the-art dentistry is so that with today’s technology hopefully they don’t have to lose any more teeth and we can maintain what they have.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Anthony Bielkie, visit www.stoneridgedental.com or call (586) 739-6400 to schedule an appointment.