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New Procedure Quickly Replaces Dentures

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RALEIGH, N.C. — If you wear dentures, you know they can be uncomfortable. They can also affect your ability to taste food. Getting permanent dental implants can take months of difficult procedures, but a new method promises a full set of teeth in an hour.

Fifteen years ago, Menijeh Neshat had cancer in a salivary gland. The radiation treatments caused her to lose all of her teeth. Ever since, she's worn dentures. But recently, her son, Dr. Kevin Neshat, took them out for the very last time.

The dentures will be replaced with a full set of prosthetic teeth implanted in her upper jaw. The work will be fast, because Dr. Neshat has already done most of the work using a computer image formed from a CAT scan.

"In this particular case, the jawbone is extremely thin," said Neshat.

From the image, Dr. Neshat designed a surgical guide. It takes all the guesswork out of where to drill and place the implants on the thin jaw line. The standard procedure involves peeling back the gum and grafting in new bone.

"If we had to do bone augmentation, the surgeon would place implants," said prosthedontist Dr. George Zarb. "We'd have to wait 4-6 months before we could even think about loading these implants."

With the surgical guide in place, eight implant screws went into Menijeh's jaw. They'll hold the new titanium steel frame with prosthetic teeth. They'll be as firm as real teeth.

"It's going to be wonderful to have teeth that is almost like your own," said Menijeh.

And unlike dentures, the new prosthetic won't cover the roof of her mouth. She'll be able to taste food better than she has in a long time.

In less than an hour, the procedure is over, with much less discomfort and quicker recovery than the standard surgery.

"This is almost like having a small cut in your mouth -- just having eight small cuts in your mouth," said Dr. Neshat.

It will take a while for the swelling to go down, but the patient can already smile.

The procedure costs about $25,000. That's about the same cost as the traditional procedure that takes more than six months and several visits. This technique is ideal for some but not all patients. Be sure to contact your family dentist if you have questions.


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