Can’t keep a denture in at 60 years old. Do I have any options?

I am only 60 years old and my dentures are falling out. I have had them for over 30 years now and it seems like there is not ridge left. Is there anything that can be done. I don’t want to live on liquid the rest of my life!

– Beatrice

This is sad to hear. What your dentist may not have informed you about decades ago was the denture problems that can occur when you are missing all your teeth. What happens is that the body resorbs the minerals to be used in other parts of the body. This causes the bone to shrink in your jaw. So that is why you no longer have a bony ridge left to support your denture. The condition is known as facial collapse. And from what you have described it sounds like you are at risk in becoming a dental cripple. Your quality of life will continue to suffer as this continues to progress.

But there is something that can be done. Bone grafting is a procedure that builds the bone back up. You want to be very selective in the dentist and oral surgeon you choose. Some implant dentists perform bone grafting surgery as well. Depending on the condition of your teeth, there may be some oral surgeons that will steer clear of your case.

There are some other options that may work for improving your current condition. This, of course, all depends on your budget and what your desired outcome is. First, you can get a new removable denture placed after the bone has been surgically replenished. But facial collapse will still be a concern. As time goes by, you will again experience bone loss.

Dental implants prevent facial collapse. The implants are surgically implanted into your jaw so your body recognizes it needs the bone to support the implant. As little as two implants can help. This is called an overdenture, or snap-on denture. The more dental implants you get, the better off you will be in the long run. Six to eight implants to secure your denture will make it feel like you have your old teeth back.

Thank you for being willing to share your story. You probably had no idea you would be in this situation 30 years ago. Hopefully, your story will help others when faced with the difficult decision of the best treatment option for missing teeth.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Am I too old to have my wisdom teeth extracted?

I was involved in a dental emergency several years ago where they removed my top two wisdom teeth. But since then, I haven’t had the others removed and now I am in my low thirties. Am I too old to have them extracted now? Am I at a higher risk of my jaw breaking or having any other complications? I didn’t realize at the time I would need to have the others out because no one ever seemed like I needed to. But now they are starting to bother me, so I think they need to be removed. Any advice you have would be appreciated!

– Katherine in Texas


On average, wisdom teeth are extracted between the ages of 18-25. But you are not “too old” to have them removed. If you are experiencing discomfort, there is a possibility that the tooth or teeth is infected which means it needs they need to be removed. And this needs to be addressed sooner than later, so it doesn’t turn into a serious dental emergency. In some cases, if a tooth infection is ignored, it can turn deadly. The infection can spread to other areas of the body.

Although it would have been ideal to have them extracted years ago, you shouldn’t have to worry about any jaw complications. At 40, the risk increases for jaw damage. The oral surgeon will still have you signing paperwork to remove liability from their practice, but the risk of anything serious occurring during the extraction process is considerably low.

While the oral surgeon is performing the tooth extractions, it would be beneficial to have them all out at once. Then it will be done, the infection will be removed, and you can move on. Again, if they are bothering you, act now. Don’t let this fester into an emergency situation.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I am a victim of a sexual asault. Now I’m scared of getting sedation dentistry.

I was informed at my last dental appointment that I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted. For obvious reasons, the dentist is recommending I get sedation dentistry for the treatment. But I am kind of freaking out about it all, because I am very scared to be put under or medicated because I was sexually assaulted a year ago. I have some major trust issues and am not comfortable with sedation dentistry because I won’t be able to react if something happened. It’s nothing against my dentist. I have been seeing him since I was a kid. I think it’s all part of the trauma I experienced. I’m so embarrassed that I don’t know what to say. I mean, I know I have to get the teeth out, I just cannot bring myself to have the conversation with my dentist. I feel like he might think I don’t trust him or would accuse him of something terrible. Any advice? I feel trapped, scared, and embarrassed – not a good combination.

– Anonymous

Thank you so much for sharing your story. First off, I’m so very sorry to hear that you were victimized. Your fear of sedation dentistry is completely understandable. Traumas like this can take much time to move past. Have you sought counseling? There are many resources available to help sexual assault victims.

In regard to the wisdom teeth extractions that you need to have done, here are some tips. Even though the conversation seems daunting, there is a good chance that your dentist will completely understand your anxiety and apprehension. You should not feel bad about what happened to you or embarrassed in any way. But if you simply cannot bring yourself to have this conversation, you may consider discussing the situation with a female staff member. It would be in everyone’s best interest that the dentist knows what is causing your nervousness in order to provide the safest care to meet your needs.

Some questions that may help give you peace of mind include, inquiring if the doors are opened or closed during the procedure. If they are generally closed, you may request that they are open. Or you can consider making an appointment for a busy time of day to ensure there will be a lot of people in the office. Ask your dentist about the safety protocols in place for sedation dentistry. Some practices insist upon having another staff member or assistant accompany the dentist at all times during the appointment. This will rule out any question of foul play. Simply pose the question, “Who will be with me while I am under sedation?”

If you are not comfortable with your dentist’s responses, it would be a good idea to seek out a sedation dentist that caters to cowards. These types of practices are highly-sensitive to fearful patients. They go out of their way to provide a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. But as difficult as it is, it would probably be in your best interest to be honest with whatever dentist you choose about what has happened to you. Again, I am so sorry you are going through this.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I lied to my dentist about smoking.

I lied to the dentist about smoking. How big of a deal is it really? I’m an adult and in college. So I can make my own choices. Yet, I care a lot about what my mama thinks. She doesn’t know and it would break her heart. I’m on her dental insurance plan still, so I am afraid she would find out this way. I am actually getting evaluated to have a tooth replaced and they are trying to find out if I’m an implant candidate.  I felt like the dentist was giving me the evil eye. So maybe he knows anyway. I would love some advice as to how big a deal this is?

– Jet in Texas


We don’t have to tell you how bad smoking is on your physical health, no matter if it’s cigarettes or marijuana. But smoking also has a negative effect on your oral health. You didn’t state how much you smoke. That makes a big difference. If you smoke on a daily basis, there is a good chance your dentist knows already. Yet the doctor-patient confidentiality relationship can be exercised since you are an adult. He doesn’t have to tell your mother anything. So it would be good to contact your dentist and be honest. Especially because it sounds like you are being evaluated as a dental implant candidate.

You should also know that smoking can adversely affect healing times after the oral surgery. It can also increase the risk of infection which could ultimately lead to dental implant failure. Smokers aren’t always the best implant candidates. So your dentist needs to know sooner than later.

It’s sweet that you want to keep this destructive habit from your mother. But when it comes to health professionals, it is always best to be honest. They are making recommendations based on the information provided and need to have all the information including current medications, alcohol consumption, and smoking. So suck it up, be a man, and tell your dentist. It may be wise to tell your mom too. Mother’s intuition is a strong thing. She may already know anyway. But if she is going to be paying for your treatment, at the very least, she deserves your honesty.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Dental implant problems; blue on my gum.

It has been six months since the oral surgery for my dental implant. As far as I know, all was going well. The dentist was happy with the healing to date and I have had no complications. Well, the other day I noticed an achy feeling in the general area around the implant. It didn’t hurt badly and is nothing that has interrupted my daily activity or kept me up at night. But it is noticeable. It kind of pulses on and off through the day. Also, when I looked closely I noticed that the tissue above the implant area is blue.

I am planning to call the dentist but wondering if you have ever heard of something like this?

– Beth in Wisconsin


Thank you for your question. Dental implants are a highly complex treatment and there are many factors to consider. First off, you are correct to contact your dentist right away. You don’t want to delay if you are unsure and the dentist should get you in right away.

Unfortunately, dental implant problems are not uncommon. Implant dentistry is not a regulated specialty area within dentistry. Therefore, any dentist can do them. Some, without any additional training. Others that use improper technique or substandard materials. Implant dentistry had the highest number of dental malpractice suits in the nation. Implants that fall out, become infected, or cause other serious problems that cause dental implant failure.

This is not being said to scare you, but to reinforce the urgency in getting back into see your implant dentist. The blue coloration could indicate some old blood in the soft tissue or a lack of circulation, or possible something more serious. Don’t put it off, call today. This will relieve your mind and the sooner dental implant issues are addressed, the more likely it will not turn into a serious problem.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

How does sedation dentistry feel?

I am totally freaking out because I was told that I will be “awake” during my emergency dentist appointment. I have to get a tooth extracted and I thought sedation dentistry was supposed to knock me out. What am I going to feel?  I am so anxious about this I cannot sleep a wink. HELP!!

– Pam in Oregon


First off, take a deep breath. Thank you for your question. You are correct that you will be “conscious” during sedation dentistry. Sometimes patients only hear part of the explanation and often think sedation means they will be getting general anesthesia. That is not the case. Your protective reflexes, like breathing and coughing, will still be completely functional. So you won’t be “knocked out” like during surgery at the hospital.

Here’s what to expect. Your dentist will prescribe you medication that is to be taken as directed, prior to the scheduled appointment. You will need to have someone drive you to and from the appointment because you will not be able to drive. You will feel indifferent to what is going on. The closest explanation is that you will feel kind of sleepy. And there is a strong possibility that you will remember nothing about the dentist appointment. Oral sedation is completely safe and a trained staff member will accompany the doctor throughout the emergency dentist appointment to monitor your vial signs.

Sedation dentistry is an excellent option for individuals that are scared of the dentist or that have had a negative or painful experience in their past. With sedation, you won’t feel any pain.

If you would like more information, contact your dentist.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.


Can a Dentist Adjust My Dentures so They Look Better?

I’m only 40, but I’ve had dentures for over 10 years now. Bad teeth run in my family and I just couldn’t keep up with all the work that was needed. Although I was initially glad to be out of pain and to be able to smile without being self-conscious again, they don’t look natural. I’m okay with the fit and everything, but even a decade later, it bothers me that my dentures don’t have the shape and color that my natural teeth did. Is there a way to have my current set adjusted so they look better or do I have to start over? Can a new set even be made to look like my original teeth? I only ask because I don’t think my insurance company will help cover a new set yet and I don’t want to pay out-of-pocket, especially since I’ve already put up with it for so long.


Sharon in Florida

Dear Sharon,

There’s probably not a way to adjust your dentures to provide the drastic change you’re hoping for. Slight adjustments can be made so they fit better, but large aesthetic changes require a new set. When a dentist works with an experienced and knowledgeable lab technician, the results can be stunning. You may have to call around a bit to find a dentist who will work with you to provide the cosmetic results you want. You’ll also need several photos of how your teeth looked before, so that they can be matched. The shade of the gum tissue and the color of the teeth can be made just about any hue you want, too. Usually, the dentist has a good idea of what colors will complement your appearance best, but you may be able to custom-select shades as well if you request it beforehand. Dentures can be very life-like and beautiful when done by a dentist with an artistic eye.

Insurance companies often have a 10-year waiting period between new sets of dentures. Some may require more time and some will allow for less, so your might be covered now. To be sure, ask your dental office to submit a pre-authorization to the insurance company. This binds them to an agreed upon payment and allows you to try to fight it if they will deny it, before you have a surprise bill show up in your mailbox.

As the years go by, you may be dealing with more denture problems than the aesthetics involved. Many denture patients complain of them falling out at embarrassing times, causing painful sores, and also are concerned with facial collapse. You may want to consider having a discussion with your dentist about dental implants. They not only look natural, but function just like your normal teeth used to. Implants also prevent bone loss that is inevitable when missing teeth.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Accustomed to Gentle Dentistry- Did My New Hygienist Damage My Teeth?

I just got back from a visit with my new dentist and it was horrible. I saw the hygienist and she was really rough. I told her that she was being too aggressive, but she said that I had a lot of stuff stuck on my teeth. I wasn’t more than a couple months overdue and my prior dentist was gentle, but effective. Now it feels like she chipped off parts of my teeth. I’m sure I have spaces where I shouldn’t and I don’t know what to do. I’m so upset that she kept going and I think she did some real damage. I’d go back to my old, gentler, dentist and have him look, but he’s out of network for my insurance now. Could she have done permanent damage and is it worth paying out-of-pocket to have my prior dentist look?


Norine in New Jersey

Dear Norine,

I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience. More than likely, what you’re feeling now, is actually clean teeth. Sometimes, in an effort to be gentle, dental offices aren’t as thorough as they should be. This can be especially so with people who have tender mouths. Naturally, the more you pipe up during a cleaning, the more cautious the hygienist will be. A less-experienced hygienist may not be as detailed, because she’s worried about your comfort. Those with more experience will often walk you through the process, so you know what’s happening and why it’s happening, while being considerate.

When plaque remains after a cleaning, it becomes very hard and difficult to remove. It starts to feel like part of your teeth and often looks like it to the untrained eye as well. If your prior hygienist missed it, your new office would have had to work especially hard to remove it. This may explain why your cleaning seemed rough and also why your teeth feel so different now. It’s very doubtful she damaged your teeth, but if you have concerns, ask your new dentist to take a look. He may have some visual aids that can help demonstrate what has occurred or may be able to look over your x-rays with you so you can see what, if anything, was removed. Gentle dentistry can be thorough too, so don’t let this get you down. The doctor can work with his hygienist, or he may be able to ensure you’re booked with a different hygienist next time.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.