Do Dental Implants Work for Teeth Falling Out?

I’ve heard that dental implants are the best option to replace missing teeth, but we have kind of a unique situation here. My mom didn’t lose her teeth to decay or have them extracted… they just seem to be falling out. She’s 79 and this started about six months ago. We thought one was a fluke. Now she’s had four fall out and the last two were only a few weeks apart. We’ve been trying to decide how to replace them best. I was originally thinking bridges would work, but they seem to be falling out so quick that I don’t know how long a bridge would last. Dental implants seem to be the better option, but if that’s the case, she’ll need a mouth full of them over time and I’m not sure she’s up for all that. Any suggestions?

Greg – Georgia

Dear Greg,

Dental implants are a great option when someone has healthy teeth and gums, but it sounds like your mom has some pretty serious periodontal disease going on. When periodontal disease advances to the point where teeth are falling out, it’s likely affecting her entire mouth. If it goes untreated, she will probably continue losing teeth.

Your first goal should be to see what you can do about restoring her oral health, or at least improving it some. Perhaps a deep cleaning, followed up by more regular professional cleanings can help her maintain what she still has. It’s unclear why she’s struggling so. As parents age, they do tend to have dexterity issues and certain medications can dry out the mouth and cause dental problems. A consultation with the dentist and hygienist about this can provide you with some insights on tips for home care and how to go about improving the condition of her teeth and gums.

As far as replacing the missing teeth go, dental implants are out because of her periodontal disease. Her teeth probably aren’t stable enough to hold bridges either. That leaves some kind of partial denture as the best option. Given how weak her teeth already are, it’s a good idea to avoid the type of denture that has metal clasps to attach it to remaining teeth. Those are the most common, but some dentists will make another kind that works more like a traditional denture, but with cutouts for her remaining teeth. That way, they don’t have any additional strain on them that might cause her to lose them sooner and, when she does lose other teeth, the dentist can just add a new false tooth to the partial.

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Is a Screw-Retained Implant the Best Option?

I’ve been researching dentists and dental implant options. One of the dentists I spoke with has a very high success rate. He told me he attributes this to using only screw-retained implants. However, I spoke to another dentist with a high success rate, who says screw-retained implants cause aesthetic problems. Can you help me understand which one is correct?

Elizabeth M. – Oklahoma


Don’t kill the messenger, but in a way, they’re both right. The biggest benefit of a screw-retained implant crown is avoiding the cement. No matter how skilled the dentist is, there will always be some cement that seeps out when the restoration is placed. While the dentist will use tools to remove the additional cement, if any escapes his notice it becomes a breeding ground for infection. As you’ve obviously done your research, you ‘ll know that infection is one of the leading causes of dental implant failure.

It’s also much easier to replace a screw-retained crown than a cemented one, for obvious reasons, should the need arise.

The other side of the coin is that sometimes a screw-retained crown won’t work because it will impact the aesthetics. That is more important on front teeth.

If I were in your place, I would base my decision on where the dental implant is being placed. Unless, it’s a front tooth AND it would negatively impact its physical presentation, then I’d get a screw-retained crown.

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Brought My Son to the Dentist. Big Mistake!

I decided my son was getting old enough to go to the dentist. I thought it would do him good to see me in an appointment to have some idea what to expect. It was a big mistake. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my regular dentist was out. I knew he had a partner, but had never been treated by him before. Let’s just say they may as well be named Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was rude, impatient. Then when he hurt me and I yelped he yelled at me. Suffice it to say my son never wants to go to the dentist. Do you have any tips to help me turn this around?

Barbara – Washington


What an awful experience for both you and your son. Don’t blame yourself. You had a great idea. Sometimes our best ideas backfire on us. My suggestion is to first sit him down and explain to him that every dentist is different. Some are patient. Some are rushed. Some are gentle. Some are rough.

Then, I’d talk to your regular dentist about what your goal was and what happened. I bet he’d likely make a special effort to give your son a great experience when you returned.

You didn’t mention how old your son was. While I think you’re likely doing this, I just wanted to emphasize how important it is you get him to his first dental appointment before he has any problems, like a cavity. You’ll really want his first appointment to be a good, pain-free experience.

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Is Sedation Dentistry a Possibility If You’re on Multiple Medications?

I’m on multiple medications for some endocrine issues. Is it still possible for me to do sedation dentistry? I do struggle with dental anxiety and don’t want to get turned away from office after office. Is there a way I can just compare my medicines to what they’ll use to make sure it’s safe without talking to them to avoid the doc hop?

Olivia B. – San Diego, CA


You’re not alone in your dental anxiety or the need for multiple medications. I don’t think you’ll have to fear being turned away by multiple dentists. However, there’s not a way for you to try and compare the medicines on your own.

Each dentist uses different types of sedation medication, depending on the situation and what they’re most comfortable working with. Your safest bet is to send a complete list to the dentist’s office ahead of time so the dentist can review it and choose the appropriate medication.

Please don’t skip this step thinking everything will be fine. There are serious reactions that can occur when you mix certain medications. I’d even remind the dentist when you get there about your specific medications, in case he forgets. I once was given two different types of medications by the SAME doctor that cause severe hallucinations when mixed. Thankfully, I decide to check for myself first. The point being doctors are human and make mistakes. You have to be proactive about your care.

I’m not saying this because you won’t be able to have sedation. I’m certain you will. I just want to make sure you don’t skip the very vital step of making sure your doctor is aware of everything you take, including dosages.

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Developed a Tooth Ache Two Days Before Trip

I’m about to go on an extended trip. I leave in two days and have now developed a toothache. My dentist is booked up for a week. Are there precautions I can take?

Bradley – New Jersey


If I were in your position, I’d see an emergency dentist just to be sure you won’t have a problem blow up on you while you’re away. He can do some diagnostic tests and x-rays, telling you what the cause of the pain is.

If it’s serious, you’ll want to get it taken care of right away. Explain to them ahead of time about your trip so they’ll be prepared to help if the situation makes that necessary.

Maybe there’s nothing serious wrong. That won’t be a waste of your time, because it means that you can proceed on your trip with complete peace of mind.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Clear Choice’s Lack of Diversity Makes Me Uncomfortable

I had a Clear Choice consultation this week. I knew about their pressure tactics going into the meeting, so I was well prepared to hold them off. Why they’d want someone to sign and then and there is beyond me. This is an important medical decision that requires consideration. One thing I didn’t realize until I had the consult is that they seem to only do one procedure. It seems a little unlikely that everyone miraculously has the exact same problem when they go to Clear Choice. Do they only do the one procedure? If so, why?

Joe T. R. – Virginia


I completely agree. When you’re making a big decision like replacing several teeth at once, you should always talk to more than one dentist. It’s life changing and a costly procedure, so it only makes sense to gather lots information from various sources before you begin.

As far as the Clear Choice reviews go, the company as a whole really is known for doing one thing and one thing only (aside from pressuring people to sign the contract).

Some might call them specialists, but others might point out that doing the same thing over and over again could indicate that they’re not treating people like individuals with unique needs. Cookie cutter practices or assembly line dentistry doesn’t do anyone any good, except for the people who practice that way. After all, what’s right for you may not be right for the person down the street. When you pair it with strong arm tactics to get you to commit to it right there and then, alarm bells would sound with most thoughtful people.

If you have a consultation with one or two more offices and they all suggest the same thing, then it probably is the best option for you. However, you should be looking for someone who listens to your particular cases needs, then gives you all your options, so you can make an informed decision on your treatment. Clear Choice reviews are all over the place in terms of patient satisfaction and the same procedure is performed nearly every single time. With all that practice on the same procedure, there reviews should be more consistent. That should set off alarm bells all its own.

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Choosing the Right Solution for Affordable Implant Treatment

I have a missing upper molar and two canine teeth that need replacing. One place I went wants to do mini implants to replace them. They told me it would keep cost down and last ten years.  They’re very affordable. The other dentist suggested instead to replace my canine teeth with regular dental implants and on the missing molar to do a bridge because the teeth next to them are broken and having problems.  This is a more expensive option. The two plans are so different, I’m having a hard time choosing and don’t want to get sucked into the wrong one, simply based on math.

Emely R. – PA


I’m glad you’re not making decisions simply based on the “best deal”. Sometimes what you think are affordable dental implants end up being what costs you the most, in both health and dollars.

If I were in your place, I’d go with the recommendation of the second dentist. Here’s why.

Mini implants, though more affordable, are not meant to be single tooth replacements. They’re designed to secure a denture. They don’t usually last ten years. But, let’s say you luck out and they make the full promised ten years. Then what?  You don’t just replace them with new implants. They fail when there’s not enough bone structure to support them anymore. In order to replace them, you’d have to have bone grafting done, which is quite expensive.

If you start with full-sized implants, you have a 98% chance of success, depending on who does the procedure.

The bridge is also a good idea, because it addresses the needs of the adjacent teeth.

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Avoiding a Rough Dentist

I moved halfway across the country. I’ve gone to the same dentist my entire life. I guess I was spoiled, because I’d never had an unpleasant visit. I visited a new dentist in my new city, but it was horrible. He was quite rough. Like brought tears to my eyes rough. Now I’ve had a filling come out. I really can’t bear the idea of going back to him, but realize I can’t very well just leave the filling out. I filled a prescription earlier in the week and did some wandering around the shop while waiting. I saw some dental filling material at my pharmacy. Would that suffice?  I could fill the gap and not have to visit Attila the Dentist.

Elizabeth F. – South Dakota


I’m sorry you’ve had a negative experience, especially after years of such pleasant visits. Don’t lose hope. You’re not condemned to a lifetime of sadistic dental care.  You’ll just have to find a different dentist. In your place, I’d do a Google search for a “Gentle Dentist“. You might have more success finding a dentist more like the dentist you grew up with.

As far as the filling that fell out, the filling paste you found in the drug store is meant to be temporary. You can use it for about three days. That should give you some time to locate another dentist. If you tell them about your filling, they’ll treat it as an emergency appointment and likely even get you in that day.

The good news is you’ll get a feel for the dentist pretty quickly. If you like him, voila! you’ve found your new dentist.

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Choosing An Implant Dentist

I keep hearing how important it is to choose the right implant dentist. The way some patients (and dentists) put it, if I pick the wrong one it could completely ruin my life. I do want to get dental implants. Dentures seem like a horrible solution. So, how do I go about finding the best type of implant dentist?

Lyza M. – San Francisco


It’s good that you’re doing your research. Though it may sound like an exaggeration, the importance of finding the best implant dentist you can is crucial. There are dental implant horror stories that would make Stephen King duck and cover.

There isn’t a dental implant specialty, so any general dentist can learn the procedure and call himself (or herself) an implant dentist. That, however, doesn’t mean they’re skilled. Because it is such an advanced procedure, that requires surgery, the patient is at risk with the wrong dentist.  So, is there a way to separate the achievers from the pretenders? Fortunately, yes.

You want a dentist who consistently furthers his training with continuing education. The implant dentistry field is changing all the time with new developments. You want to be sure whoever is doing your procedure works hard to keep up.

Don’t hesitate to ask to see photos of their work and ask how many procedure they’ve done, along with his success rate.

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Finding Affordable Dentures?

I look after my brother and his teeth are really bad, to the point where I’m certain he needs dentures. He had a motorcycle accident about three years ago and suffered traumatic brain injury and has some cognitive issues as a result. I try to encourage his independence as much as possible, but I still have to oversee his care. At any rate, we’ve more or less seen to everything he needs, with the exception of his teeth. He wasn’t great about taking care of them before the accident and he certainly isn’t now. Plus, he broke a couple of them in the accident. Sadly, his medical benefits will not cover the dentures. It will cover his extractions and would help if we were restoring them, but it does nothing as far as replacing them goes. He’s got to eat somehow and money is very tight, as he’s on disability. What are our options here?



Dear Beverley,

It’s very honorable that you stepped up to the plate with your brother. He’s lucky to have you overseeing his care.

As far as dentures go, there aren’t necessarily any tricks for making them more affordable, though you can certainly call around and ask for pricing. Perhaps what’s most important here, however, is finding a doctor who routinely works with people who have had a TBI. It really does take a special kind of person to care for those affected by brain injuries. If your brother isn’t particularly agreeable, he should be working with someone who has experience and patience. For the best possible experience here, focus on that first.

Alternatively, you may have some luck finding a supplemental policy for him. Many dental insurance companies offer solid plans that could cover as much as half of the cost of his dentures and might only set you back $30 or so per month. The only caveat to this is that you’ll want to be on the lookout for two major things with this. First, be aware that many have waiting periods for more extensive services, and they may not pay anything until you’ve had the policy for anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Secondly, you’ll need to be on the lookout for policies that have exclusions, such as a “missing tooth clause,” in which case they won’t pay to replace any teeth lost before the policy took effect or they may not cover dentures at all.

Many offices also accept payment plans or do financing through a program called Care Credit, which is like a credit card, but can only be used for medical treatments.

Start by finding the right doctor to care for him first. Once you have that squared away, then you can start looking into what insurance plans they accept or if they have recommendations for managing the costs of his treatment.