Dental Implants and Existing Partial Denture Options
Dentures come with a unique set of challenges—comfort, effect on speech and on which foods you will be able to eat, and of course the course the maintenance and upkeep involved in cleaning the dentures once they are removed. The need for adhesive to keep them secure can also be an issue. Traditional dentures—which sit over the gums—can become loose or entirely slip out even with the use of adhesive, and the adhesive can also be difficult to remove from the dentures after taking them out.
One option to solve these issues is implant-supported dentures. Also referred to as “implant overdentures” or “snap-in dentures,” implant-supported dentures are anchored to the underlying bone in your jaw by snapping on to metal supports inserted into the jawbone. This makes the implant-supported dentures as stable as your natural teeth and require no adhesives for them to stay in place.
How Implant-Supported Dentures Work
When people refer to “dental implants,” they often mean implants that replace the whole tooth. In actuality, the dental implant is just one component of full dental implants. The dental implant itself is a metal post that is inserted into the jawbone to make an artificial root.
After the implant is placed, bone grows around it, securing it into the jawbone. This process usually takes about two months. Implants can serve as the foundation for an abutment and crown that will then serve as tooth. This can be done for any lost teeth, from one to the entire set. They can also serve as the foundation for implant-supported dentures. Thus, implant-supported dentures are somewhat of a hybrid between a complete tooth replacement with implants and traditional dentures.
Implant-supported dentures are designed to attach to the implants. These posts provide a foundation onto which traditional-type and partial dentures can be securely attached. Usually, your oral surgeon will need to place two or possibly more implants to secure your dentures in place.
Benefits of Implant-Supported Dentures
People may prefer to combine dentures with dental implants for many reasons. Here are some of the benefits of implant-supported dentures.
- Prevent Bone Loss. One important benefit of implant-supported dentures is that the dental implant posts prevent the loss of your natural bone. Over time, traditional dentures gradually become loose. This is because the bone structure of the mouth shrinks due to bone loss in the jaw. Therefore, traditional dentures must be regularly adjusted or even replaced over time to properly fit the changing structure of your mouth.
- Teeth replaced with implants or implant-supported dentures, however, allow the same amount of bite pressure as natural teeth and thus, encourage bone growth. This allows for the added benefit of not needing regular adjustments over time.
- Improved Appearance. The implants onto which the dentures attach help to preserve the structural integrity of the jaw. When natural teeth are lost, bone loss occurs because there is no need for the bone to support the teeth. This can affect the appearance of the face and is unavoidable with traditional dentures. Implant-supported dentures, on the other hand, discourage the loss of the underlying bone structure and preserve the appearance of your face.
- Better Speech. Poorly fitting dentures can move within the mouth, causing changes in your speech. Implant-supported dentures avoid this problem because they are more secure and stable in the mouth.
- Improved Functionality/Nutrition. With implant-supported dentures, people have normal biting and chewing functionality, so most people can eat the foods they want to without worry. Because implant-supported dentures provide a strong bite function, they do not require any dietary adjustments to accommodate traditional dentures, which are more fragile. This promotes better nutrition.
- Permanent Solution. Because the implants become part of your jaw, implant-supported dentures are a permanent solution to tooth loss. Other methods of tooth replacement, including standard dentures and bridges, often need to be replaced over time as your bone structure changes. Only about two percent of dental implants that support the dentures fail. With proper care, implant-supported dentures can last decades.
- Affordability. Implant-supported dentures are often less costly than individual dental implants that replace several or all missing teeth.
- Fit and Performance. Another major benefit of implant-supported dentures is the fit and performance. With the secure foundation provided by the implants, denture glues are no longer necessary. A denture that snaps onto dental implants is stable right away. Implants provide stability for dentures, making them more comfortable. Traditional dentures often require regular adjustments to prevent or resolve sores resulting from a poor fit.
- Enhanced Self-Confidence. With implant-supported dentures, you won’t have to worry about your dentures slipping or becoming loose while you eat or talk, and you won’t have to worry about your speech being affected by the dentures. This helps many people feel more confident in social situations.
Dental Implants with Existing Full or Partial Dentures
Sometimes, existing full or partial dentures can be modified to attach to your new dental implants. If your oral surgeon cannot convert your existing denture, a new one will need to be made with the proper attachments.
Care and Maintenance of Implant-Supported Dentures
Implant-supported dentures need to be removed daily for cleaning and at night before going to bed. It is also important to clean the implant attachments and gums.
Are Implant-Supported Dentures Right for Me?
Sometimes, if there is not enough jawbone mass to support an implant, your oral surgeon will need to perform a bone graft. Having implants placed is a surgical procedure, so patients need to be healthy enough to undergo a surgery. Certain medical conditions can prevent you from having implants placed—for example, conditions such as diabetes can impede healing after the implant placement.
To determine the details of the procedure that will be best for you, you will need to have a full consultation with a dentist and an oral surgeon. During this consultation, your existing dentures can be evaluated, and your overall health and medical history will be reviewed to see if you are a good candidate for implant-supported dentures.