Dental Implants Existing Partial
Dental implants can be used as a base for dentures providing them with stability and increased comfort. In addition, combining dental implants with dentures can boost self-confidence, improve facial appearances, and provide better nutrition.
Dentures are made to fit over a ridge of bone and soft tissue. Over time, the bone undergoes continuous degradation leaving little for the dentures to hold onto. Using implants to retain dentures provides a better fit and higher level of functionality.
How Implants and Dentures Work Together
Dentures are custom built in a laboratory based on impressions taken of the patient’s mouth. Typically, they are used when several or all of the patient’s teeth are missing. Dentures come in two main types: partial dentures and full dentures.
Partial dentures rest on a framework that attaches to the patient’s natural teeth and are removable alternatives to dental bridges. With a full denture, an upper base fits over the palate while a lower base has a horseshoe shape to accommodate the tongue.
A dental implant is a small metal post or screw that is embedded into the jawbone to act as replacement tooth roots. In time, the surrounding bone tissue fuses with the implant becoming a permanent part of the jawbone. Implants with a crown attached to them can be used to replace one, several, or all the teeth. Implants can also be used to support dentures.
Although frequently used in the lower jaw, where conventional dentures tend to be unstable, implant-retained dentures can be used in the upper jaw as well. Usually, implants are placed in the front of the mouth because there is more bone than in the back.
Combining dental implants with dentures provides a tooth restoration system that offers many advantages over conventional dentures.
Simplicity and Stability
To combine removable dentures with dental implants, two or more implants will be placed to securely hold the dentures in place. This offers patients the robustness and longevity of permanent implants along with the simplicity of a removable denture.
Because the overdenture is affixed to implants, patients do not need to worry about them falling out when eating or talking.
Problems with Conventional Dentures
A common complaint associated with conventional dentures is their tendency to slip out of place, especially in the lower jaw. Typically, dental adhesives are used in an effort to overcome this issue by reinforcing the natural force holding dentures in the mouth.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that denture adhesives do not address the issue of poorly-fitting dentures. In fact, the FDA indicates that dentures that are properly fitted and cared for, should not require additional adhesion. Combining dental implants with dentures provides an ideal alternative to relying on adhesives while holding the dentures in place but allowing easy removal to clean.
Conventional dentures simply rest on the patient’s gums and even if denture adhesives are used, can loosen or move out of place. Because implant overdentures affix to implants permanently fused with the jawbone, they are equally secure as the patient’s natural teeth.
Why Overdentures are Superior to Conventional Dentures
In addition to enhanced stability, implant-retained dentures offer other benefits including:
- Improved Appearance and Function: After teeth are lost, the adjacent bone begins to be resorbed by the body since it is no longer needed for support. This can dramatically affect oral function and facial appearances. Conventional dentures cannot avoid this issue, but dental implants can help better preserve the jawbone’s structural integrity.
- Permanent Restoration: Because they fuse with the jawbone, implant dentures are a permanent solution for replacing lost teeth. Over time, other tooth replacement options, including traditional dentures and bridges, may need to be swapped out.
- Improved Speaking Ability: Improperly fitted dentures can slip out of place making it difficult to clearly speak. Because implant overdentures are more secure, speech ability is positively impacted.
- Affordability: Compared to placing individual implants for every missing tooth, implant-retained dentures are typically more affordable.
Bone Loss Associated with Conventional Dentures
Lacking any direct interaction with the jawbone, conventional dentures can lead to shrinkage of the bone structures over time and gradually loosen. Lacking any root structure, bone recession occurs with traditional dentures the same as would with a toothless mouth. Because implant overdentures provide root structures, bone loss is avoided.
Long-term wear of poorly-fitting dentures can exacerbate additional bone loss and will require periodic realignment or replacement. Implants, on the other hand, are unique in that they stimulate bone growth and have bite strength equal to natural teeth. Through a process called osseointegration, the titanium implants fuse with the jawbone to create a single, solid unit. This fusion process provides the bones with the stimulation needed to thrive and without it, will lead to jawbone degeneration over time.
Improved Functionality and Self-Confidence with Overdentures
Aesthetics and functionality are both improved by combining dental implants with dentures. In addition to enhancing facial appearances, overdentures promote good nutrition by allowing the patient to bite and chew as they normally would. Implant-supported dentures can restore the patient’s smile, boost their self-confidence, and provide a more powerful bite function than conventional dentures.
Dental implants have success rates up to 98% and implant overdentures, when properly cared for, can last for life. Overdentures should be removed for daily cleaning and before going to sleep at night. Patients should also clean the implant attachments and gums.
Choosing the Right Professional to Combine Dental Implants with Dentures
People considering overdentures are advised to select an experienced surgeon who specializes in dental implants. Following the completion of dental school, these surgeons undergo special training in a hospital-based resident program.
Implant failure is often due to inexperience by the practitioner who placed them. 2014 figures from the Journal of the American Dental Association showed that nearly one out of five implants placed by general dentists failed. The high overall success rate associated with implants is largely attributed to the procedures being predominantly carried out by highly skilled surgeons with an abundance of experience.
Should a patient have insufficient jawbone structure needed to support implants, a bone graft will be needed. And because the procedure is surgical in nature, patients should be in good health to minimize the risk of complications.