Archive for Sunday, April 10, 2005

New system improves on dentures

April 10, 2005

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— Wanda Phillips had potato soup for dinner that night.

But she could have had steak and corn on the cob, with a sticky, chewy caramel for dessert.

And her denture would have stayed in place.

Because a few hours earlier, she received dental implants to hold the denture firmly.

That's thanks to a new technique being used by McPherson dentist Jon Julian and only a few other dentists in the United States.

For dentures, the "gold standard" has been a device called the Hader bar, Julian said. It's a bar that joins four dental implants. The denture has clips that snap to the bar.

To use it, the implants are surgically placed, the gum heals, then the denture is made to fit.

The drawback in addition to time is cost. Some people try to get around that by using only two implants with the bar. In that case, the denture sits on gum tissue in the back, which can cause pressure problems.

Enter the Syncone Denture. It also uses four implants. Rather than being joined by a bar, each is topped with a small male attachment; the female end is embedded in the denture.

When they slide together, they hold so well that Phillips' biggest problem a day after the procedure was getting the denture out again. "Isn't that something?" she said.

The Syncone system isn't a "mini implant," a device some dentists are using. Bone will grow around Syncone implants, as it does with other kinds of dental implants, and it will become a permanent part of the mouth. "These implants are meant to last for life," Julian said.

The new implant procedure is less expensive than the gold standard. The Hader bar costs about $9,500, Julian said, compared with $7,500 to $8,000 for the Syncone system.

"Plan on paying for 100 percent of this out of your pocket," he said, noting that dental insurance typically doesn't cover implants of any kind.

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