Overdentures

Dental implant graphic

Denture wearers have always had to suffer with pain, instability and poor function which lead to poor self-esteem, insecurity and a diminished quality of life. Dental implants, titanium anchors placed in the upper and lower jawbones, can easily be used to support or attach removable dentures with snaps, clips or other locking mechanisms. Without these implant-retained attachments, dentures only hold in place by suction on the upper jaw and gravity on the lower jaw.

Implants with attachments greatly improve a denture’s function, comfort, stability and retention. In some patients, a well made denture can be an effective method of tooth replacement, but even well made dentures often will fail to demonstrate the qualities a patient desires. Regardless, with conventional dentures bone deterioration or ridge atrophy continually occurs constantly changing the dentures fit. Implant placement prevents the ridge atrophy from occurring.

Dentures can cause many problems when they fit poorly. Often times, denture wearers have a limited ability to eat a diet other than softer, more refined and processed foods which are often higher in fat and carbohydrates and low in protein and dietary fiber. All of these dietary changes can lead to health risks like obesity, diabetes, stomach and intestinal disorders and many forms of heart disease. The dentures also cause a loss of taste and the feel of foods.

Many denture wearers are very self-conscious because their teeth move or shift while eating, speaking or singing. This can certainly lower self-esteem, ruin social encounters and can often lead to withdrawal, isolation and depression.

The field of removable dentures has been revolutionized by dental implants. In the lower jaw, 2 to 4 implants are used to anchor lower dentures. Even patients with advanced bone deterioration are typically still good candidates for this treatment. Generally, the more implants used, the more secure and stable the denture will be.

In the upper jaw, it is often possible to make a “horseshoe” shaped denture, eliminating the plastic covering the roof of the mouth, with the placement of 4 to 6 implants that are spread out to improve retention. Patients experience better taste sensation and avoid gagging this way also. They also gain a security and satisfaction in hearing a “snap” when these overdentures are seated on the implant anchors.

Benefits of Snap-in Dentures:

  • Secure your teeth, no more floating (or flying out of your mouth when you sneeze, cough or yell )
  • Greater confidence in social situations
  • Significantly improved chewing
  • Easier to speak thanks to stable dentures
  • More natural appearance
  • Reduce or eliminate gagging
  • Taste food better with less plastic and an open roof area
  • Reduction of sore spots with improved stability
  • Bone retention
  • Easy cleaning and maintenance
  • More affordable than you might think!

Shortfalls of traditional (non-implant) dentures:

  • Limited chewing power – very little chewing power due to movement of the lower denture; usually only 10-20% of what a person had with natural teeth. The movements of a denture wearer’s tongue and cheeks continually pushes and pulls on the lower denture keeping it unstable.
  • Speech – speaking can be difficult due to the movement of the lower denture and the thickness of the plastic in the roof of the mouth.
  • Embarrassment – caused by the inability to eat around other people, laugh loudly, and converse confidently due to fear of dentures becoming loose and falling out.
  • Discomfort – since traditional dentures, especially lowers, often move around, they can rub and chafe the gums causing irritation and discomfort.
  • Poor nutrition – again, due to the loss of chewing power, patients may be unable to eat a balanced diet and chew food sufficiently for proper digestion.
  • Bone loss – after a person’s teeth are removed, they typically lose a great deal of bone and will continue to lose it for the remainder of their life. This means that traditional dentures become more and more difficult to wear over time.
  • Gagging – traditional upper denture covers the roof of the mouth to provide suction and stability. Unfortunately, for many people, the denture covering the roof of their mouth causes them to gag. Trimming the denture to reduce this gagging leads to an decrease in stability and loss of natural suction.

How Does The Process Work?

First, we need to see you for a dental implant consultation so we can assess your oral cavity and existing dentures. At that time a 3D CBCT radiographic image will be made so Dr. Culley can fully evaluate your bone and anatomy. Your options will be reviewed with you by one of our qualified implant coordinators. After a plan has been agreed upon, you will return for your surgery.

At that time, you will return for your surgery. For your safety and overall ease of the procedure, Dr. Culley will start an IV and place you in a deep conscious sedation where you will be relaxed and amnesic for the procedure. Most patients say it’s the best sleep they ever had. Any remaining teeth are removed and any other necessary oral surgery procedures are performed, the implants are placed into the jawbone. After this, the implants are typically not visible. They will remain in your jaw untouched for at least 4 months while your bone attaches to them in a process known as osseointegration.

A Post op appointment will be scheduled the day of your surgery. We will see you back for a quick post-operative appointment, which we usually schedule for 7-14 days after your procedure. At this appointment, we will evaluate your mouth for adequate healing, take post op x-rays and ensure that any dentures are fitting as comfortably as possible. We will also answer any questions you may have.

Soft liners / soft re-fittings – soft liners are cushions that are placed in your denture periodically as you heal. They fill in the spaces between your gums and dentures that are created as you heal, and they also give your gums some cushioning. They help your dentures fit and feel better. Typically your restorative doctor takes care of this, but sometimes we do as well.

After adequate healing and time for osseointegration to occur, we do an uncovery. This is a smaller surgical procedure where we expose the implants and place small healing abutments on top of them to properly shape your gum tissue and prepare you to finish your snap-in dentures. Your dentures will be altered to allow for these new, visible parts.

Attachment of implants to dentures will be done by your restorative doctor. We typically give you the parts your general dentist will need to fit the snaps into your existing denture or into a new one if you are having a new one made. We also usually change your healing abutments to the new retentive snap attachments. The attachments we use and recommend are Locator attachments. Since their development, they have set the gold standard for denture attachments.

Snap-In Implant Dentures Traditional Dentures
Eating Much greater chewing power than dentures alone Significantly reduced chewing power
Speaking Stabilized dentures = more natural speaking Can be more difficult due to looseness of dentures
Smiling and laughing Smile and laugh confidently knowing your teeth are secure Full dentures can become loose when laughing
Comfort Secure dentures cause fewer sore spots Regular dentures can move causing sore spots
Gagging Implants can help reduce gagging Greater chance of gagging
Bone loss Implants help reduce bone loss! Bone loss is common after natural teeth are removed
Need denture adhesive? Almost never needed Will most likely be needed

Are These Mini Implants You’re Using With Snap-In Dentures?

No! We only place standard, full size dental implants at our clinic. These have a much higher success rate and will last much longer than mini implants.
Please proceed with caution at any office recommending mini dental implants as a permanent solution. They have a very high failure/complication rate.

Please proceed with caution at any office recommending mini dental implants as a permanent solution. They have a very high failure/complication rate.

Be Confident in Your Smile! Schedule an Appointment Today

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