Implant Supported Dentures Offer a Permanent Solution to Tooth Loss

Implant Supported Dentures | Dorothy Paul, DDS

Implant supported dentures are a form of overdenture that can be used to replace several teeth at once. The procedure combines dentures and implants to improve function and aesthetics, and the process is completed over several months. It is ideal for patients that have suffered extensive tooth loss. These patients may be at risk of additional complications related to their oral health, but implant supported dentures can help control those risks.

Why consider implant supported dentures?

Implant supported dentures are usually recommended for patients that have lost several (or more) teeth if there is enough jawbone present to support the implants. The implants will be anchored directly into the jaw, which is at risk of deteriorating after some time following tooth loss.

The dentist may propose implant supported dentures to protect the jaw and restore function to the mouth. There are several reasons why this an effective approach, including:

  1. Preserves remaining bone – Healthy teeth keep the jawbone intact by stimulating the bone tissue during eating and chewing. Dental implants, because they include a root-like structure at the base, also stimulate the jaw in this way, preserving it even in the absence of natural teeth.
  2. Prevents resorption – When someone loses multiple teeth and the jaw is under-stimulated as a result, resorption takes place. During resorption, the jaw shrinks in size, and this pulls the chin up closer to the nose. This is usually seen as a sign of aging, so implant supported dentures can help a patient look younger and healthier by preventing resorption.
  3. Promotes more natural chewing – Implant supported dentures are more stable than standard dentures, which are held in place using adhesives. With their added stability, implant supported dentures allow patients to chew thoroughly and break food down more efficiently. This makes for a more comfortable and more natural chewing motion. Further, because food is broken down more thoroughly, it’s easier for the stomach to digest everything and for the body to take in nutrients.
  4. Provides a more comfortable fit – Because implant supported dentures don’t move around, patients don’t have to change the way they talk or eat. This will reduce the likelihood of the patient developing sores or the denture becoming dislodged.

How are implant supported dentures placed in the mouth?

Implant supported dentures are placed in the mouth in stages, and the process normally takes several months to complete.

The first step is the consultation, which will determine whether or not a patient is a candidate for implants. During the consultation, the dentist will take a close look at the patient’s medical history and check for potential risk factors.

During the consultation, the dentist will take X-rays or, if necessary, a CT scan may be ordered. These will help the dentist map out important structures such as sinuses, nerves and help assess the jawbone’s condition. This information verifies that the patient’s jaw can accommodate the implants.

Impressions of the patient’s gums and remaining teeth will be made and used as a model when fabricating the dentures. A complete denture will be fabricated using this model and will help the dentist determine where each implant should go during placement. This denture can be used as a backup or permanent solution should the patient decide against implants or if their implants do not bond properly to the jaw.

Special attachments are added to the denture so that it can be secured to the implants once they are well retained by bone and healing is complete.

Following consultation, this is what a patient can expect:

1. The first surgery – Every dental implant consists of three components – the implant, the abutment and the crown. The implant is the first of the three to go into the mouth, and is anchored directly into the jawbone.

The dentist will make an incision in the gums to access the bone and drill a hole to provide space for the implant. The implant is then placed and the incision closed up using stitches. This process is necessary for every implant, and the dentist will wait at least three months (and up to six months) before bringing the patient back for the next step. This not only gives the mouth ample time to heal, it also ensures the bone has enough time to bond to the implant. The dentist will likely schedule multiple appointments during this time to monitor the implant’s progress.

2. The second surgery – Once the implant fuses to the jawbone, the dentist will bring the patient back for a second surgery. This surgery is quicker and less involved than the first, and it also begins with making an incision on the top of the gums. This exposes the implants, and a healing cap is placed on each one. Each healing cap ensures the gums heal and form around the implant correctly. After a couple weeks, the healing caps are replaced with special abutments and the corresponding housings are placed on top of the abutments. Most of the time a chairside procedure of picking up the housing can be done using a previously fabricated denture.

Once the abutments are in place, another round of impressions are taken so that the dentist can fabricate the crowns and underlying dental framework.

3. Placing the framework and dentures – With the implant now fully in place, the dentist will complete the procedure by adding the framework and crowns. The framework is usually a curved metal bar that aligns with the patient’s gum line and is used to attach the denture to the implant. Once the framework is in place, the crowns will be temporarily positioned, and the entire denture tested. If everything looks good, the dentist will have the final denture fabricated.

The final implant supported denture is installed and secured during a separate appointment, and the temporary denture modified slightly so that it can fit in the patient’s mouth, should the permanent overdenture sustain damage.

At this point, all that’s left is for the patient to maintain proper denture upkeep. The dentist will recommend a schedule for follow-up appointments.

Implant supported dentures are a comprehensive solution for the loss of multiple teeth and can restore both function and appearance.

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Dorothy Paul, DDS
2500 Tanglewilde Street, Suite 498 (South Tower)
Houston, TX 77063 US

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713-977-1010

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