If you are missing more than a couple of teeth, you have several options for replacing them. You could have a partial denture made to fit your mouth, or you could have standard dental implants put in place for the missing teeth. There's a third option – and it just might be the best one: implant supported dentures. Here's a closer look at this tooth replacement option and why it's such a good choice for people missing many teeth.
What are implant supported dentures?
Implant supported dentures consist of two main components: snap-like "anchors" that are implanted into your jaw bone, and a denture that holds a replacement tooth for each one you are missing. The denture snaps onto the anchors rather than being held in place by glue like a standard denture.
Implant supported dentures can be made for both lower and upper jaws. If you are missing most or all of your teeth in both jaws, you can have two dentures made – one for the upper jaw, and one for the lower jaw.
Why are implant supported dentures so much better than regular dentures?
Regular dentures tend to move around a lot. Not only does this make it difficult to chew, but it may make it entirely impossible for you to eat some foods like steak, crunchy nuts and pretzels. The movement can cause sores in the mouth, and it can also make it hard for you to talk.
Implant supported dentures are much more stable than regular dentures. They don't move about as you eat or talk, so you can eat anything you'd eat with real teeth. Your speech will be better, and you don't have to worry about the denture moving out of place when you smile. There are also no adhesives to worry about with implant supported dentures, which is good news for those who don't like the strange taste and hassle involved with denture glue.
Why are implant supported dentures better than standard dental implants?
With implant-supported dentures, you may be able to get away with having fewer implants put into your jaw. Some patients need as few as two implants to support a denture, whereas 4 - 8 implants are usually necessary to replace a full arch of teeth with traditional implants. Few implants means a shorter surgery and less pain during recovery. Also, dentists can sometimes use a smaller type of implant, known as a mini implants, for implant-supported dentures. Mini implants require less jaw bone for support, so this may make implant supported dentures an option if your jaw bone is too thin to support standard implants.
What does the process of getting an implant supported denture involve?
First, your dentist will take x-rays and examine your jaw to make sure your bone is strong enough to support the implants. If you are lacking bone, you may need bone grafts to strengthen and add to your jaw bone. Bone grafts can be inserted during a simple surgical procedure, and then after they have a few months to heal, you can proceed with the next step.
Once your bone grafts heal (or sooner, if you don't need bone grafts), your dentist will perform a procedure to implant the rods into your jaw bone. You will then need to spend a few months healing before the top, snap parts of the implants are attached. During this time, you may wear a normal denture, which will allow you to eat soft foods while protecting the implant sites. When you're sufficiently healed, the snaps will be attached to the tops of the implants, and a denture will be made to attach to them. In some cases, your normal denture may be able to be modified to snap onto the implants.
If your smile is lacking, an implant-supported denture is a great way to get it back. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Schirmer Dentistry.