Dentist: Implants can hold dentures in place
Dr. Joseph Jurgevich holds a sample of a denture anchored by dental implants in his office in Berlin. (Staff photo by Vicki Rock / April 1, 2013)
"It caused me to need to have all of my teeth removed in two years," he said in a telephone interview. He got dentures. "My top denture was fine but the bottom denture flopped around. It was very difficult to eat."
Dr. Joseph Jurgevich, who has a dental office along North Street in Berlin, told Merrill about dental implants. Implants can be done either for individual tooth loss, in which a pin is put in the jaw to hold an artificial tooth, or for dentures. If a person has dentures, four pins are put in the jaw to hold the existing denture in place. Merrill had the procedure done in November and only needed pain medication that first night.
"The implants locked the bottom denture in place," he said. "It's wonderful. I'm able to eat darn near anything I want without my denture moving — nuts, apples, just about anything. I can't imagine anyone with bottom dentures not having trouble with them, there's nothing for them to hold on."
John Zehner, Somerset, agrees with Merrill.
"My lower plate (denture) slipped around when I tried to eat," he said. "I've had this (implants) about four years. It absolutely works well. It's one of the most wonderful things I did."
Jurgevich has been a dentist in Berlin since October 1978. While implants have been around since the 1940s or 1950s, he said, the materials and techniques have improved immensely. Dental implants are now more like natural teeth. Implants can be done in one appointment using a local anesthetic. Most people only need a pain reliever for the first night.
"Prior to implants, people had to get a partial, which is removable, or a bridge, which is fixed in place," he said. "The implant is a pin that goes into the jaw and the tooth goes onto it. If you are anchoring dentures, then four pins. It is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Implants hold your teeth in place so you can eat. Dentures are difficult because they move and you have to keep adding adhesive. When we use implants for your existing dentures, oftentimes we can use the dentures you have unless they are too worn. Some people lost their teeth 30 years ago and are now getting implants for dentures."
People who have severe osteoporosis or those who have had extensive chemotherapy may not be able to get implants because their bodies don't heal well. The main drawback is that not many insurance policies cover dental implants. The cost varies.
Although Pittsburgh Penguin center Sidney Crosby would be a candidate for dental implants after losing several teeth when he was hit in the face by a puck Saturday, Jurgevich would recommend that Crosby wait until he has retired from hockey. If he had implants and he got hit in the face again, and the implants would break off, it would be major surgery to replace them.
"I'm not saying implants will work every time, but it is worth the appointment to be evaluated," Jurgevich said.