With the advent of dental implants modern dentistry has been able to offer so much more. Dental implants are not just for replacement of one or two teeth. They can also beDental Implants Marielaina Perrone DDS used to support and stabilize removable dentures. For many wearing a removable denture is a difficult thing to do. Over time our bone resorbs resulting in dentures that do not fit properly and make eating and talking very difficult. When this happens patients are forced to grin and bear it using various denture adhesives throughout the day. Now with the development of dental implant supported dentures those adhesives and struggles can be left in the past for many patients.

What Are The New Options For Denture Wearers?

A dental implant supported denture is also called an overdenture. A traditional removable denture rests directly on the gums, and is only supported by the existing bone and muscles. With dental implants, we are able to anchor the denture directly to the dental implants removing the need for bone and muscle supprt. The dental implants give support and stability to the denture to make it more the patient more comfortable and confident.

A dental implant supported denture (overdenture)  is recommended for the patient who is missing all the teeth in the jaw. The patient needs to have enough bone in the jaw to support the dental implants. The denture will have the ability to stay in place using special attachments that allow the denture to “snap” into place over the dental implants.

Implant supported removable dentures are generally fabricated for the lower jaw. This is because regular dentures tend to be far less stable on the lower arch due to tongue and musculature movement. Usually, a regular denture made to fit an upper jaw is much more stable and tolerable on its own and does not need the extra support offered by dental implants. Overdentures are able to be completed on the upper jaw as well if the patient so desires.

Dental implant supported denture should be removed daily to clean the denture and gum area just like traditional dentures. Also, you should not sleep with the dental implant supported dentures at night. Some people prefer to have fixed (permanent) crown and bridgework in their mouths that can’t be removed but this is not always possible in every patient’s case. Your dentist will consider your particular needs and preferences when suggesting which option is best for you.

Types of Dental Implant Supported Dentures

There are 2 types of dental implant supported dentures:

1) Bar-retained dentures. Your dentist will have a thin metal bar custom fabricated for you. This bar will follow the curve of your jaw and is attached to 2-5 dental implants that have been placed directly into your jawbone. Clips or other types of attachments are fitted to the bar, the denture or both. The denture is then designed to fit directly over the bar stabilized by the attachments. The dental implants along with the bar and attachments gives the denture support and stability.

Dental Implants Marielaina Perrone DDS2) Ball-retained dentures. The dental implants in the jawbone hold a metal attachment(ball) that fits into another attachment(socket) on the denture. In most cases, the attachments on the implants are ball-shaped (“male” attachments), and they fit into sockets (“female” attachments) on the denture. In some cases, the situation is reversed and the male attachment is in the denture and female attachment is on the dental implant. This also gives the denture wearer increased stability and retention over the traditional removable denture without dental implants.

In both cases, the removable denture will be made of a custom fabricated acrylic base that will look like gum tissue. The teeth can be made of porcelain or acrylic. These teeth will look very natural. Gone are the days of making dentures that do not resemble your natural smile. Either type of denture needs a minimum of 2 dental implants to work properly over the long term.

Placement of Dental Implants

The prime location for placement of the dental implants is in the front of the mouth. The main reason for this is due to the fact that there is generally more bone present in this area for the dental implants. This is the case even if the teeth have been missing for a long period of time. When teeth are lost, bone is lost in that surrounding area.  A person’s anatomy plays a role as well. In the front of the mouth there are less nerves or other important structures that could interfere with he placement of the dental implants.

The time schedule to complete the dental implants can be complicated and is customized for each patient. The general time frame is approximately 5 months for the lower jaw and approximately 7 months in the upper jaw. The process can take much longer if the case is more complicated. Complications can include the need for bone grafting or even sinus lifts, which can add time and cost to the procedures.

The procedure generally requires two surgeries. The first surgery is for placement of the dental implants in the jawbone under your gingival tissue. The second surgery is to remove the gingival tissue that has now covered the dental implants. The second procedure comes 3-6 months after the first.

There has been increased use of a one stage procedure.

A one-stage procedure is now used sometimes. In this procedure, your dentist places the implants and the supporting bar all at same visit.  The success rate of this procedure is high, if properly planned out.

Dental Implant Supported Denture Care

The dentures need to be removed at at night and to clean them. The attachments and/or bar need to be cleaned as well. Your dentist will give you instructions on how to clean these as they can be delicate.

Your dentist will periodically check the parts of your new denture to ensure they are secure and in proper place. Your denture may seem stable but over time these attachments can loosen. If they loosen even slightly it will cause the denture to move when chewing. This movement of the denture can cause sore spots as the denture rubs against your gums. Your dentist will also check to make sure your bite is correct and make any adjustments as needed.

The clip or other attachments on the bar retained denture usually will need to be replaced every 6-12 months. They are made of a plastic material (nylon) and will wear afterDental Implants Marielaina Perrone DDS continued use.

Complications that may Arise

The actual dental implant surgery carries its own risks but so does a bar retained denture. The fabrication of a bar retained denture needs extra space inside the denture to allow for the bar to fit inside. This means there is less support for the teeth in the denture. Due to this, the teeth sometimes come loose. This is an easy fix but can be an inconvenience for the patient.

Another important item is that the denture fits on the bar passively. This means that the bar is evenly balanced across all implants. If the fit is not passive, the extra strain can cause the screws holding the bar down to loosen. A special note for patients who grind or clench their teeth is that their parts are more likely to break over time, due to the excessive force they are placing on the components and dental implants.

Dental Implant Overdenture Expectations

A denture supported by dental implants will be far more stable than a traditional removable denture. Patients will find everyday tasks easier including speaking and eating. They will also not be concerned that their denture may fall out or become loose. Patients report being able to eat foods they have not been able to eat in years. A word of caution is to avoid or minimize sticky or very hard foods as you can damage the denture with these types of food.

A big advantage to having dental implants support the upper denture is the dentist can make your denture much thinner and lighter. A traditional denture covers your entire palate whereas a dental implant supported denture does not need that extra material for support.

A whole new world has opened up with dental implants for both the patient and the dentist. The old compromise and limitations are slowly going away. Modern dentistry is evolving and dental implants are leading the way to make patients more comfortable retaining a bright, white smile for a lifetime!