What to Expect with Implant-Retained Dentures
Posted on: December 5, 2022
3 minute read
Modern dentures look and feel more natural than those of the past, but it’s common to struggle with dentures or worry about them falling out. If you want a secure and permanent teeth replacement solution, ask your dentist about dentures supported by dental implants.
An implant-retained denture is a full denture stabilised on two or more dental implants. They address many of the typical challenges current denture wearers have such as gum irritation and dentures coming loose. Read more about what to expect from treatment.
What are implant-retained dentures?
Implant-retained dentures (also called overdentures) are removable dentures that are supported by dental implants, rather than relying on suction or clasps to stay in place. The dentures clip on to special abutments in your mouth that are attached to the dental implants in your jaw.
Titanium ball attachments or a bar attachment may be used with two or more dental implants in the lower jaw. In the upper jaw where the jaw bone tends to be softer, a titanium bar attachment is commonly used with four or more dental implants.
Like conventional dentures, implant-supported dentures can replace a full arch of teeth in either jaw. The number of dental implants requires for your denture may depend on the quality of the jawbone, your desired retention and the type of dental implants used.
Implant-retained dentures are made up of several components;
- Two or more titanium dental implants
- Two or more titanium abutments
- High impact acrylic denture (remodelled with a titanium bar or ball attachments)
Why choose implant-retained dentures?
If you currently wear dentures or you’re thinking about replacing missing or damaged teeth, implant-retained dentures may be a suitable treatment option.
Advantages of implant-retained dentures over conventional dentures include:
- Improved comfort, avoiding rubbing or soreness of the gums and mouth
- Improved stability and retention, as dentures won’t come loose
- No need for messy denture adhesives
- Stronger biting and chewing forces, allowing you to enjoy a wider range of nutritional foods
- Improved ability to chew and digest food
- No loss of taste, as upper dentures don’t cover the soft palate
- No impairment to speech
- Dental implants support the jaw, helping to prevent bone loss and preserve jaw and facial structure and shape
- May help prevent gum recession
An implant-retained denture also has some advantages over full mouth dental implants (fixed implant bridge). Many denture-wearers who have gone without teeth for some time, rely on the wall or flange of a denture for adequate lip support, and find they retain this support when upgrading to an implant-retained denture.
Other advantages to choosing implant-retained dentures over a fixed implant bridge include:
- Cost less to repair than a fixed implant bridge
- Removable dentures are easier to clean than a fixed bridge
Depending on how well you tolerate dentures, you may choose a hybrid solution to replace missing teeth, such as wearing a full upper denture and a lower fixed implant-retained denture or you may choose fixed full mouth dental implants in one arch and an overdenture in the other, depending on your individual needs.
Want more information on fixed or removable teeth? Contact our team today.
Disadvantages of implant-retained dentures
There are pros and cons to every dental treatment and implant-retained dentures are no different. When comparing implant-retained dentures to a fixed teeth solution like All-On-4® implants, disadvantages to choosing implant-retained dentures include:
- Need to be removed for cleaning and left out overnight
- Require a longer treatment time with more appointments
- Requires a full denture to be worn for up to 6 months while the mouth heals
- Dentures are made of acrylic and are therefore prone to chipping to staining
- Acrylic does not last as long as zirconia implant bridges
What’s involved in the treatment process?
Whether you want to replace missing or damaged teeth or to convert an existing denture into an implant-retained denture, the process will involve a number of stages and several appointments at the dental clinic. Your dentist will explain what’s involved at each step of the process.
1. Consultation and treatment planning
A consultation is an important first step to assess your suitability for dental implants and give you all the information you need to make a fully informed decision. Your dentist will create a treatment plan detailing the procedure along with a price estimate and discuss sedation options and payment plans.
During your assessment, your dentist will examine your mouth, take diagnostic radiographs and check your medical history to determine whether implants are a suitable treatment option. Any oral health concerns such as gum disease will need to be treated before surgery takes place. If you don’t have enough jaw bone to support dental implants, your dentist may discuss bone grafting or alternative solutions with you.
If you don’t already have dentures, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and temporary dentures can be provided to wear during the healing process. These will later be replaced by your final dentures.
2. Implant surgery
Your dentist will then schedule your implant surgery. This is a procedure that involves making an incision in the gum and placing implants in the jaw bone. The gum is then sealed with dissolvable stiches and your jaw left to heal.
If you need to have any remaining teeth or unhealthy bone extracted, this is done at the same time your dental implants are placed.
3. Healing phase
It can take between 3 and 6 months for dental implants to fuse with your jaw bone. During this time, you will wear a full denture that rests in your mouth.
Your dentist may recommend not wearing a denture for the first 1 to 2 weeks to aid with healing. After this time, your dentist will check that your denture fits comfortably, making adjustments if needed.
When dental implants have bonded with your jaw, a minor procedure will be carried out to expose the top of the implants and place titanium healing caps. The gum will then be left to heal around the implants for around 3 weeks.
4. Abutments and denture conversion
Once your gum has healed, the healing caps will be replaced with abutments on which your dentures will attach.
Your dentist will take new impressions of your mouth that may be used to create a new denture or to modify your existing denture to clip on to the abutments.
5. Denture fitting and adjustment
When your dentures are ready, your dentist will check that they fit securely to the implant abutments and feel comfortable in your mouth. If any adjustments are needed, this will involve some further visits.
Living with implant-retained dentures
You should find that implant-retained dentures look and feel more like natural teeth. Unlike conventional dentures, they should not cause any soreness or feel loose in your mouth. Your dentist will check the condition and fit of your dentures during your follow-up appointment and then every six months for a check-up and professional clean.
To keep your dentures clean and hygienic, they should be taken out and cleaned daily and left out overnight. It’s important to also brush well around denture abutments including the ball or bar attachments. Your gums and tongue should also be brushed twice daily to maintain good oral health.
Acrylic implant-retained dentures may last between 2 to 5 years on average or longer with proper care before needing to be replaced. In comparison, a fixed zirconia implant bridge or All-On-4® dental implants may last between 10 to 15 years or longer.
Over a 30-year lifespan, this converts to replacing acrylic teeth between 6 to 15 times compared to a zirconia bridge that might require replacing 2 to 3 times. This comparison excludes any repairs needed as a result of accidental damage.
Book a consultation for implant-retained dentures in Perth
If you want to know more about implant-retained dentures and other dental implants options for replacing missing or damaged teeth in Perth, book a consultation at your nearest Perth Dental Implant Centre in Kelmscott or East Victoria Park.
Our experienced dentist, Dr David Norcross, has been providing dental implants since 2009.