What is an Implant-Supported Dentures?
An implant-supported denture in Farmersville and Van Alstyne, Texas, is a type of denture that is supported by, and attached to implants for stability. By comparison, a traditional denture rests on the gums and is not supported by implants.  An implant-supported denture is used when a person doesn’t have any teeth, but has enough bone in the jaw to support implants. An implant-supported denture has special attachments that snap onto the implants.  Implant-supported dentures are usually made for the lower jaw because regular dentures tend to be less stable there. A regular denture made to fit an upper jaw usually is quite stable on its own. However, you can receive an implant-supported denture in either the upper or lower jaw. You should remove an implant-supported denture daily to clean the it and your gums. Just as with regular dentures, you should not sleep while wearing your implant-supported dentures at night.

How Does It Work?
There are two types of implant-supported dentures: ball-retained and bar-retained. At Harvest Dental we will predominately use the ball-retained denture. In both cases, the denture will be made of an acrylic base that will look like gums, and acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth, which are attached to the base. Both types of dentures need at least two implants for support

  • Ball-retained dentures: Each implant placed in the jawbone holds an implant abutment that sticks out of the gums. This abutment fits into another attachment on the inside of the denture. In most cases, the attachments on the implants are ball-shaped, and they fit into sockets on the inside of the denture.
  • Bar-retained dentures: A thin metal bar that follows the curve of your jaw is attached to two to five implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Clips, or other types of attachments are fitted onto the bar, and the denture snaps on to these clips.

The implants usually are placed in the jawbone at the front of your mouth, which tends to have more bone than the back of the jaw. This usually is true even if your teeth have been missing for some time. Once you lose teeth, you begin to lose bone in the area. The front of the jaw is chosen because it doesn’t have many nerves or other structures that could interfere with the placement of implants.

What are the steps of placing dental implants for a denture?

  • First, Drs. Horsley and Walker will carefully review your medical file to see if you have any conditions or take medications that may prevent dental implant placement. Some major contraindications include patients with uncontrolled diabetes or who have taken intravenous bisphosphonates.
  • Next, dental imaging and a thorough oral evaluation are done to determine whether a dental implant supported denture is right for you.
  • If the previous steps have optimal results, the implants can then be placed in the jaw at the desired locations, and healing caps put on top of the implants. These areas are then sutured closed and at this point, the implants are left to integrate or fuse with the bone. This usually takes four to six months. This is an out-patient procedure; most patients are surprised by how easy the process is and report very little discomfort afterward.  Many patients go about their regular routine the next day.
  • During this healing process, your denture that will be used with the implants will be crafted.
  • After the dental implants have integrated, we will open your gums and remove the healing cap. We will then place a denture-supporting abutment on the implants.  These abutments protrude from the gum line and connect the implants to the denture.
  • Finally, the denture is snapped into placed over the denture abutments. Your dentist will test all the parts of your new denture to see if they are secure. Even though your denture is stable, it still can move slightly when you chew. This slight movement can cause the denture to rub against your gums, which can cause sore spots. Your dentist will check your gums and will also check your bite, or the way your top and bottom teeth come together, after the placement of the denture.

The time frame to complete the implants and denture depends on many factors, including the type of implant used. The shortest time frame for standard implants is about three months for the lower jaw and seven months for the upper jaw. This includes surgeries and the placement of the denture. However, the process can last a year or more, especially if you need bone grafting or other procedures to prepare for the implants.

What Can You Expect From Your Implant-Supported Denture?
Your implant-supported denture will be more stable than a regular denture. You will find it easier to speak, and you won’t have to worry about the denture becoming loose, or falling out of your mouth. You should be able to eat foods you could not eat before. However, you will not be able to chew hard or sticky foods because they can damage the denture. If you have an implant-supported denture in your upper jaw, it can be made to cover less of your palate (roof of your mouth) than a regular denture. That’s because the implants are holding it in place instead of the suction created between the full denture and your palate.

Caring for Your Implant-Supported Denture
You will need to remove your denture at night and when you clean it. When cleaning, you should be extra careful around the attachments.  The attachments on the inside of the denture are removable and usually need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. They are made of a plastic material (nylon) and will wear out after continued use.

Possible Complications
In addition to the risks posed by surgery and the potential of the implants to fail, an implant-retained denture carries certain risks of its own.  Because there are components that are in embedded in the denture, there is less space available on the denture framework for the acrylic teeth and acrylic base. Because of this, the teeth sometimes can come loose from the base. Usually, this problem is easily fixed.

Also, despite our best efforts sometimes there isn’t a “passive fit” between the denture and implants. This means that as the denture is snapped in, it takes more force than we like in order to seat it. This extra strain on the denture and abutments can cause denture abutments and denture attachments to loosen.

Finally, if you grind or clench your teeth, it’s more likely that parts of the denture will break or that your implants will come loose.

You are welcome to call our practice at 469-812-7100 to learn more and arrange your consultation with our dentists.