Implants and Dentures
Although, in many cases, implants can actually replace dentures altogether, in some instances, implants can be used in conjunction with dentures to ensure a more stable, better fitting solution for edentulous patients.
There are two options available: implant-supported and implant-retained dentures.
Implant-supported Dentures (Fixed Dentures)
Implant-supported dentures are basically dentures – or a whole arch of artificial teeth – which are held in position by implants. They are not usually removable and remain in place unless a qualified technician or practitioner removes them for any reason. In this way, they are similar to single tooth implants except that they involve the whole dental arch.
Many patients who choose to wear dentures prefer this option because it is almost like having natural teeth. There is no need to take them out for cleaning – they are brushed in the normal way.
Implant-supported dentures are much sturdier than ordinary dentures, in that they do not move about or slip causing friction, which can be painful and affect speech. The presence of implants in the jawline also helps to stimulate the bone and prevent atrophication, which can result in jaw shrinkage and bone loss.
Implant-retained Dentures (Removable Dentures)
Patients who still wish to be able to remove their dentures for cleaning but who are looking for a firmer, more stable fit can opt for Implant-Retained Dentures. This involves placing several implants along the jawline under the gum tissue and then adding on attachments known as abutments.
Removable dentures, known as overdentures, are then created. These have ‘snap-on’ fixtures that exactly fit into the abutments found on the implants, which help to hold the overdenture in place.
Patients who require tooth replacement in the upper jaw usually require at least four implants, whilst those who need full arch dental replacements in the lower jaw are looking at a minimum of two implants in order to guarantee good stability.
With implant-retained implants, the overdenture still sits on the gum and can be removed at any time, but it is held in position more firmly and securely by the implants.
In the majority of cases, which option you choose is down to individual preferences and lifestyle. See also Teeth in a Day.