Dentures are replacements for missing teeth that can be taken out and put back into your mouth. While dentures take some getting used to and will never feel exactly the same as one’s natural teeth, today’s dentures are natural-looking and more comfortable than ever.
There are two main types of dentures: full and partial. Your dentist will help you choose the type of denture that’s best for you based on whether some or all of your teeth are going to be replaced and on the cost involved.
What are Implant-Supported Dentures?
Unlike a regular denture, which rests on your gums, implant-supported dentures are anchored in your mouth by dental implants. Most often, this form of denture is placed in the lower jaw because dentures tend to be less stable in the lower jaw. However, implant-supported dentures can be placed in the upper jaw as well. In this type of denture, your implant-supported denture snaps into place on the implants surgically placed in your jaw. This prevents the denture from slipping or coming loose in the mouth. It also removes the need for denture paste or adhesives. The implant-supported denture can be removed at night for cleaning or, if you have a fixed implant-supported denture placed, your dentures will act as permanent teeth.
Basics of Implant-Supported Dentures
There are two types of implant-supported dentures: bar-retained dentures and ball-retained dentures. Both types of dentures require two or more dental implants to be placed; both will provide you with a beautiful, natural smile.
In the bar-retained type of denture, three or more implants are surgically placed in the gums. Attached to these implants is a metal bar that runs along the gum line. The denture then rests on the metal bar and is attached using clips or other types of attachments. This type of implant-supported denture holds the denture in place without the steel studs used in ball-retained dentures.
Many patients prefer this type of denture over a traditional denture because it alleviates much of the discomfort and rubbing of traditional dentures. The denture is held in place far more securely and is less likely to come loose.
Ball-retained dentures, also called stud-attachment dentures, use a ball-and-socked design to attach the dentures to the implants surgically placed in the gums. Traditionally the denture is fitted with sockets, and the implants have a ball on top of them. The denture and implants snap together where the ball and sockets meet.
This form of denture is considered exceptionally secure and will allow for an open upper palate denture. Ball-retained dentures are less likely to slip or move in the mouth and will allow denture wearers to eat more foods they love and to speak more clearly!
Basics of a Dental Implant
Dental implants are long-term replacements that your doctor surgically places in the jawbone. These dental implants are composed of titanium metal that “fuses” with the jawbone through a process called “osseointegration.” These implants never slip nor make embarrassing noises making it obvious that you have “false teeth.” Because they are made of titanium, you do not have to worry about the decay that can result from fixed bridges. You will typically not have an issue with bone loss because the titanium is surgically inserted into your jaw bone.
Doctors have been placing dental implants for over 20 years, and the best part is that most of the implants that were placed in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s are still operating at peak performance. If properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime.
The Implant Process
Before any work is initiated, an initial exam is performed to evaluate the best type of implant-supported dentures for you. The doctor takes x-rays, creates impressions, and records your medical and dental history. If you are not already wearing a full denture, a temporary denture will be made for you to wear until the implant-supported denture is placed.
The initial surgery places the implants in the jawbone. Three or six months will elapse before your next surgery. This is to ensure that your jawbone and implant integrate and fuse. The second surgery exposes the tops of the implant and a healing cap (or collar) is placed on the head of each exposed implant. Less healing time is needed after the second surgery, so your next appointment will be within two weeks. In the third appointment, the healing caps are replaced with regular abutments–the part of the implant to which the crown, metal bar, or ball-socket is attached. Your last appointment will be to try on your new dentures to ensure that you have a comfortable fit.
Caring for your Implant-Supported Denture
It is always important to remove your denture at night and to clean it thoroughly. You should also clean the attachments thoroughly to prevent gum disease or decay. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully to keep your new smile as beautiful as possible!
Implant-Supported Dentures vs. Traditional Dentures
Dentures are well-known to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Many patients complain of discomfort, embarrassment, and unhappiness with their smiles. Dentures by themselves do not act as natural teeth. The lower denture is not anchored in place and can cause slippage and prevent the wearer from eating certain foods. Dentures can cause bone loss because they do not stimulate the bone like natural teeth do. Overtime, the gums you rely upon to keep your dentures in place dissolve, and your dentures will no longer fit correctly.
Implant-supported dentures provide the wearer with a life without pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. Implant-supported dentures act like natural, healthy teeth; they stimulate the bone and prevent bone loss, increase bite forces up to 10x in the first year, and look and feel like natural teeth! Wearers often marvel at the ability to chew, speak, and smile with ease and comfort again. Implants have truly revolutionized dentistry for the denture wearer.
For more information: http://www.ada.org/2996.aspx