A Lasting Smile
A new dental implant system is allowing patients to leave the office without
fear of slipping dentures
Mar. 08, 2005 BY KAREN SHIDELER
The Wichita Eagle
McPHERSON, KS -- 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
And her denture would have stayed in place!
Because a few hours earlier, she'd gotten dental implants to hold the denture
You read that right -- a few hours after having dental implants, she was capable
of eating steak and corn with dentures. Without pain.
That's because of a new technique being used by McPherson dentist Jon Julian and
only a few other dentists in the United States.
Traditional dentures have a molded piece that fits over the wearer's gums. And
"most people get along pretty darned fine" with traditional dentures, said
Wichita dentist Bob Beaver. They're what Phillips, 50, had used for years, but
in her case, "they weren't too good," she said. "I've had to avoid a lot of
When there is a problem, many denture wearers will tell you, it's the bottom
denture that causes the problem. Sometimes gums recede and the jawbone changes
shape. Dentures may slip and slide, causing pain and making eating difficult.
Sometimes, Beaver said, the anatomy of a person's mouth just doesn't permit a
Some people opt for dental implants -- small titanium rods that are similar in
shape to the root of a tooth and are placed in the jawbone. In general, implants
can serve as a base for a replacement tooth or for bridgework or dentures.
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
Enter the Syncone Denture. It also uses four implants. But 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, just 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.
After numbing the patient's mouth, Julian uses a laser to make a depression in
the jawbone for the implants. The laser cuts bleeding to next to nothing.
Sutures aren't needed around the implants. Once the implants are placed, Julian
tops them with the male and female attachments. He lines the part of the denture
that sits on the gums with a quick-cure acrylic and positions the denture on top
of the implants. Seven minutes later, the female attachments are a permanent
part of the denture.
"Being able to do this in a single appointment -- can you imagine?" Julian said.
Careful positioning and physics allow the denture to be used right after the
implants are placed. The denture touches the gum tissue, but it sits on the
implants, which is why Phillips could eat without pain right away. The worst
part of the whole procedure, she said, was the pins-and-needles tingling she
felt in her mouth as the anesthetic wore off.
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.
Phillips had the procedure Feb. 28 and a checkup two days later. Now, she'll
have periodic checkups and implant cleanings -- much like regular dental visits.
Julian, who has used the Syncone system in six or eight patients, also is
teaching others about it, as well as about other implants and laser use. That's
why he was among the first couple of dentists in the United States who were able
to use the system after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration late
last year. For more information, reach Jon Julian at (620) 241-5000.