Denture Implants (or Implant Retained Dentures) offer a vast improvement on traditional dentures by providing securely fixed false teeth which feel very similar to natural teeth to the wearer. As traditional dentures rely mainly on suction, their stability and retention is limited. Dental implants overcome this problem and are an increasingly popular choice for the replacement of missing teeth as an alternative to either traditional dentures or dental bridges. The procedure to precisely fix each dental implant in place can be carried out by a qualified dental surgeon under local anaesthetic.
Two implants are placed directly into the jaw bone and act exactly like the root of a healthy tooth. The overdenture is then securely mounted on the implants enabling the wearer to have a similar level of functionality from dentures as they would have had from their own natural teeth.
Implant retained dentures can be worn by people who are not able to wear dentures to replace the lower teeth. When someone looses a number of teeth, as they age, the jawbone which supported those teeth diminishes, making the lower ridge of the jawbone disappear completely. In such cases conventional lower dentures can not be worn at all. This also may mean that conventional dental implants are also not suitable to be used to retain dentures, but mini dental implants (MDIâ€™s) can often be used instead.
When mini dental implants are used, four of them are placed in the lower jaw instead of the two conventional implants. There are several advantages to this type of denture implant:
- They can typically be inserted inside the lower jaw without the need for making an incision into the gum, with the procedure being relatively painless and usually carried out under local aesthetic.
- The complete process of placing the denture implants and retrofitting the existing denture so that it is held by the MDI’s only usually takes about an hour.
- They are also much less expensive than the conventional implants which can also be used to retain dentures.
The overdentures are retained using one of two different methods:
Ball-retained: Each of the implants which are embedded into the jawbone has a metal stud which fits onto an attachment on the denture. In the majority of cases these implant attachments are spherical and they fit into corresponding sockets in the denture. Alternatively, in certain cases the spherical attachment may be on the denture with the socket located on the implant.
Bar-retained: A narrow metallic bar which follows the curvature of the jaw is mounted on the implants which have been positioned in the jawbone. Clips or other kinds of attachments are fixed to the bar and/or the overdenture. The denture is then fitted over the bar and it is tightly clipped into place with the attachments.
Although denture implants are more popular then ever they may not be suitable for everyone. The patientâ€™s gums need to be healthy and an adequate thickness of jaw bone is required to enable the implants to be placed.
Dentures which are retained with implants have several significant advantages over traditional dentures:
- Retained dentures are considerably more comfortable and secure than conventional dentures, and the wearer does not even feel as though they are wearing dentures. This also results in an improved ability to speak clearly.
- Studies have shown that retained dentures contribute to an improved chewing efficiency whilst eating.
- The implants will allow the structure of the face to be preserved preventing bone loss from the jaw, which can occur when teeth are missing.
- In older patients the amount of wrinkles around the mouth will be reduced due to the support of the lip which is provided by the denture implants.
- Loose conventional dentures that can cause an embarrassment can be done away with. Messy creams and adhesives which hold normal dentures in place are not needed when denture implants are used.
Implant retained dentures are a great alternative to conventional dentures and an excellent solution for anyone does not wish to have a high number of individual teeth implants, but would like to be able to wear dentures with a lot more confidence and stability. The first step for people who are interested in having implanted retained dentures is to first consult their dentist to see if they are suitable.