The Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures

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As we age, dentures can be a reality for many of us. In fact, estimates show that over 45 million adults in America wear either a full or a partial denture. And while dentures are a much better option than not having any teeth, they do come with their own set of challenges such as a difficulty with eating certain foods, a clicking sound that happens while talking or even gum sores that develop under the prosthesis.

While these problems have been a part of the experience of wearing dentures, that no longer has to be the case. With the use of dental implants, dentures, or even partial dentures, can be secured in a patient’s mouth, thus eliminating all of the challenges that have been inherent with wearing dentures in the past. With implants to support them, dentures can look, feel and function just like natural teeth. In fact, existing dentures can be modified to be supported by implants or new dentures can be designed for implants from the get go.

The biggest determining factor in whether or not a new or existing denture can be supported with implants is whether or not a patient has healthy gums and adequate bone support for the titanium screws that will be placed in the jawbone. This screw acts like a natural tooth root and through a process called osseointegration, the bone below the gum tissue will actually grow into the grooves of the titanium screw which will become integrated with the bone.

The screw that is implanted in the jaw will be attached to an abutment that will protrude above the gum line and snap into the denture in an area that has been prepared to receive it. Some implant-supported dentures are removable just like regular dentures, others are permanently secured in the mouth and act just like natural teeth. Implants are most often used for lower dentures that are difficult to wear because they don’t generally stay in place on the jawbone and slipping often occurs. However, upper dentures can be secured with implants as well. Typically lower dentures require two or more implants while upper dentures will require four or more implants.

There are many benefits to having dentures supported by implants:

• The implant acts just like a natural tooth root and keeps the gum tissue and jawbone stimulated and alive.
• The ability to eat all different kinds of foods is restored.
• They eliminate the need for using dental adhesives which can be messy.
• Dentures will no longer slip or click while talking, eating or chewing.
• Gum sores caused by rubbing or ill-fitting dentures become a thing of the past.
• If denture wearing impacted a patient’s speech, that problem will disappear.
• If denture wearing has negatively impacted a person’s self-esteem, because implant-supported dentures look, feel and function like natural teeth, self-esteem can begin to return.

Even implant-supported dentures may need adjusting from time to time because the mouth is constantly changing. And while dentures that are implant-supported are very durable, they do require good daily oral hygiene habits just like natural teeth because plaque and tartar can build up on dentures just like they do on natural teeth, eventually spreading to the gums where periodontal disease can get started.

Needing dentures does not mean that a person has to endure the problems that are common for denture wearers. By using implants to support dentures, patients can enjoy the benefits of a full set of teeth without the problems that denture wearers have encountered in the past.

Implant Supported Dentures

Implant-supported overdentures or implant dentures are a type of full overdenture that is supported by or attached to dental implants. A regular denture that rests on the gums that tends to fit less firmly. An implant-supported denture has special attachments that snap onto attachments on the implants providing better retention to the overdentures. An implant supported denture may be done in either the upper or lower jaw.

four options for implant-supported overdentures, some with 4 and some with 2 implants

Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures

  • an implant-supported denture is more stable than a regular denture
  • enables individuals to speak more easily
  • less worry that denture may become loose or fall out of mouth
  • able to eat more types of foods but still avoid chewing hard or sticky foods as they can damage the denture
  • feels more natural than a regular denture because the denture no longer covers the roof of your mouth
  • removable prosthesis, treatment may be based on the patient’s existing conventional denture if wear, function and esthetics permit for certain cases
  • dental implant dentures are a less expensive alternative relative to full fixed bridges

Types of Implant Supported Overdentures

There are two types of implant-supported dentures:

  1. Bar-retained : A thin metal bar that follows the curve of your jaw is attached to two to five implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Clips or other types of attachments are fitted to the bar the denture, or to both. The denture fits over the bar and is securely clipped into place by the attachments
  2. Ball-retained : Each implant that is embedded in jawbone holds a metal stud attachment that fits into another attachment on the overdenture. In most cases, the attachments on the implants are ball-shaped that fit into sockets on the overdenture but may be reversed in certain cases.

In both cases, the overdenture is normally made of an acrylic base that will look like gums, with porcelain or acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth. Bar-retained dentures require at least three implants. Ball-retained dentures need at least two.

Implant Supported Overdentures Procedures

The implant are normally are placed in at the front of the jawbone where tends to be more bone in the front of the jaw than in the back, even if teeth have been missing for some time. The front jaw does not have as many nerves or other structures that could interfere with the placement of implants.

The time frame to complete the implant supported dentures will depends on many factors. A conventional dental implants procedure is normally followed for implant supported overdentures.

diagnosis and planning for implant-supported overdenturesDental Implants Procedure 1

Diagnosis and planning to determinine if implant-suported overdentures are suited for case.

bone grafts being performed to prepare for dental implant placementDental Implants Procedure 2 (If required)

If there is bone resorption, the bone grafts are done in building up the bone. For mild to moderate bone grafts, this is done during the same surgical visit when the implant post is placed. For severe bone grafts, this is done as a separate phase and left to heal for several months before proceeding to the 1st stage implant post placement.

two dental implants in the lower jaw with balls attachedDental Implants Procedure 3

The dental implant post are placed into the edentulous jaw. The dental implants are then normally left to heal for a period of time ranging from 2 months or more. During the healing period, existing full dentures may be modified or a new set of temporary full dentuers made for wear so that the patient is with teeth at all times.

implant-supported denture - denture being snapped onto 2 implants in the lower jaw Dental Implants Procedure 4

Make final overdentures on dental implant posts. Place overdentures of ball or bar. Adjust and re-check overdentures for proper fit.