These dentures are typically made for a patient’s lower jaw because conventional dentures aren’t as stable in such a position, but it’s possible to have an implant supported denture in the upper jaw as well. An Escondido dentist will consider patients’ preferences and needs when recommending full
dentures, partial dentures, or implant supported dentures.
How Implant Supported Dentures Work
There are two different types of implant supported dentures: ball- and bar-retained. In either case, the denture starts with acrylic that’s crafted to look like natural gums. Acrylic or porcelain is shaped to mimic natural teeth and is attached to the base. Both denture types need a minimum of two implants for proper support.
Bar-retained dentures: A metal bar is attached to implants placed in the patient’s jawbone, and clips are fitted to the denture, the bar, or both.
Ball-retained dentures: Each implant holds a piece that fits into an attachment on the appliance. In most instances, the implant attachments are male, and the denture attachments are female.
The Implant Insertion Process
Implant supported dentures are typically placed at the front of the mouth because there’s usually more bone mass in that area than in the back of the mouth. Furthermore, the frontal jaw lacks many of the structures and nerves that often interfere with implant placement. Implant completion timeframes vary depending on multiple factors, but the shortest time is approximately five months for the lower jaw and seven months for the upper jaw, including surgeries and denture placement. However, some patients’ treatment may take a year or longer, especially if bone grafts are required.
The Initial Consultation for Implant Supported Dentures
Before work begins, the patient will see either a prosthodontist or general dentist who specializes in implant restoration and placement. During the preliminary exam, the dentist reviews the patient’s dental and medical histories, takes x-rays, and creates impressions of the patient’s gums and teeth. In some instances, a dentist may order a full-mouth CT scan to pinpoint the location of nerves and sinuses.
If a patient isn’t yet wearing a full denture to replace their missing teeth, the Escondido dentist will make them one. The patient will use the temporary denture until their implant supported denture is placed. From beginning to end, the procedure will take approximately four office visits over several weeks. With the temporary denture, the dentist can determine the right position for the final denture’s teeth. A temporary denture can be used as a spare if something happens to the final denture, and it can be used as the final appliance to cut costs. However, attachments must be added so the denture fits snugly to the implants.
Final Implant Review & X-Rays During the Process
Dental x-rays may show implants and attachments. The dentist will take a few different sets of x-rays at various times during treatment. While it may seem inconvenient to some patients, these x-rays help the dentist see that abutments, implants, and attachments are properly positioned. Your dentist will confirm that the implant has been successful with these X-rays and final reviews.
How to Care for an Implant Supported Denture
As with conventional dentures, there are a few hygiene and care tips to follow. Patients should remove these dentures at night and during cleaning, being sure to clean carefully around each attachment. The dentist will test each part of the new denture to ensure security. Although these dentures are very stable, they may move slightly when the patient chews. The movement may cause the appliance to rub against the patient’s gums, leading to sore spots and discomfort. A dentist will examine the patient’s gums and bite (the way the bottom and top teeth come together) after the denture is inserted. Clips and other attachments on bar-retained dentures must typically be replaced once or twice per year, as they’re made of nylon that wears with prolonged use.
Potential Complications of Implant Supported Dentures
Along with the risks associated with surgery and implant failure, bar-retained dentures carry risks of their own. For instance, a bar-retained denture needs enough room on the appliance framework for its attachments. Therefore, there’s less space on the framework for teeth to be properly fitted. Because of the issue, teeth sometimes come away from the denture base, but the problem is simple to resolve.
Additionally, when a bar is affixed to implants, it’s important that it’s evenly balanced. Dentists refer to this as a passive fit. If the appliance’s fit isn’t passive, the added stress on the bar may cause screws to come loose. In patients that clench or grind their teeth, it’s more likely that denture parts will fail, and implants may become loose with time.
Advantages of Implant Supported Dentures
Conventional dentures often use adhesives for stability. However, denture creams and powders aren’t always effective, as evidenced by wearers’ complaints regarding shifting, slipping, and loosening during eating and speaking. With implant supported dentures, such issues disappear. Because these implants are inserted into the jawbone, the dentures fit, work, and feel like a patient’s natural teeth. The increased stability allows patients to eat all the foods they love while preventing degeneration of the jawbone.
What Can a Patient Expect From an Implant Supported Denture?
An implant supported denture, as one may expect, is more secure and stable than a conventional denture. Patients often find it easier to talk, and they don’t have to worry about a denture falling out of their mouth or becoming loose. In many cases, patients can once again enjoy foods they were previously unable to eat. However, patients should be careful to avoid sticky or hard foods, as they may damage the implanted denture. If the implant supported denture is installed in the patient’s upper jaw, it can be made to cover less of the roof of the mouth than a conventional denture. This is because it’s held in place by implants, rather than by the suction between the palate and the denture itself. For additional information on implant supported dentures, or to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a local dentist, call the Escondido office today.