What Is It?
An implant-supported denture is a type of over denture that is supported by and attached to implants. A regular 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 in the jaw, but has enough bone in the jaw to support implants. An implant-supported denture has special attachments that snap onto attachments on the implants.
Implant-supported dentures usually are made for the lower jaw because regular dentures tend to be less stable there. Usually, a regular denture made to fit an upper jaw is quite stable on its own and doesn’t need the extra support offered by implants. 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 denture and gum area. Some people prefer to have fixed (permanent) crown and bridgework in their mouths that cannot be removed. Dr Boone will discuss both removable and fixed options with you so you will be informed when deciding which option is best for you.
How Does It Work?
There are two types of implant-supported dentures systems that we use:
- Locator System. Complete information can be found here:
- 3M Mini Implant System. Complete information can be found here:
Each system has pros and cons. The above websites give complete information about each system.
In both cases, the denture will be made of an acrylic base that will look like gums. Acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth are attached to the base. The locator system requires at least two(2) implants, and the 3M mini implant system requires at least four(4) implants.
During the exam, Dr Boone will review your medical and dental histories. He may take X-rays and create impressions of your teeth and gums so that models can be made. In some cases, Dr Boone may order a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth. This shows where your sinuses (located above your upper teeth) and nerves are. A CT scan also may be done to see how much bone is available and to determine the best locations for the implants.
If you are not already wearing a complete denture to replace your missing teeth, Dr Boone will make you one. It will take about 2-3 visits to complete this denture. By making this “temporary” denture, Dr Boone is able to determine the best position for the teeth in the final denture. The temporary denture also can be used as a backup if something happens to the final implant-supported denture. The temporary denture can also be used as the final denture to reduce overall costs. Attachments will need to be added so it can fit securely to the implants.
The Implant Process
The implants usually are placed in the jawbone at the front of your mouth because there tends to be more bone in the front of the jaw than in the back. This usually is true even if teeth have been missing for some time. Once you lose teeth, you begin to lose bone in the area. Also, the front jaw doesn’t have many nerves or other structures that could interfere with the placement of implants.
The time frame to complete the implant depends on many factors. The shortest time frame is about five months in the lower jaw and seven months in the upper jaw. This includes surgeries and the placement of the denture.
Two surgeries usually are needed. The first one places the implants in the jawbone under your gums. The second surgery exposes the tops of the implants. This is a very short and easy visit. The second procedure comes three to six months after the first.
A one-stage procedure is now used sometimes. In this procedure, Dr Boone can place the implants and the supporting abutments in one step. The success rate of this procedure is not as high as the two surgery procedure.
The first surgery involves placing the implants in the jawbone. During the first surgery, an incision is made in the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is drilled in the bone, the implant is placed into the hole, and the incision is stitched closed.
After this surgery, you should avoid putting pressure on the implants. The temporary denture can be made so that direct pressure is placed on other areas, not on the implants. A soft reline (new lining next to your gums) may be placed on your denture to help to reduce the pressure on your gums.
After the first surgery, the dentist will wait three or four months if implants were placed in the lower jaw, and five or six months if they were placed in the upper jaw, before scheduling the second surgery. During this time, the bone and the implants integrate (attach and fuse).
Month 4 or 5 (no denture needed to be made)
Month 5 or 6 (denture needed to be made)
Once the implants have become fused with the bone, the second surgery can be scheduled. Dr Boone will confirm whether the implant is ready for the second surgery by taking an X-ray. This surgery is simpler than the first. A small incision is made in your gum to expose the tops (heads) of the implants.
A healing cap (collar) is placed on the head of each implant after it is exposed. This guides the gum tissue to heal correctly. The collar is a round piece of metal that holds the gums away from the head of the implant. The collar will be in place for 10 to 14 days. Dr Boone will adjust your temporary denture again and it may be given another soft reline. The reline material will secure the denture to the healing abutments.
About two weeks after the second surgery, the healing caps will be replaced with regular abutments. At this point, your existing denture will be given a new reline. If you are using the denture as a permanent denture, the locator or ball attachments are placed in that denture.
Caring for Your Implant-Supported Denture
You will need to remove the denture at at night and for cleaning. You also should carefully clean around the attachments.
Dr Boone 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. Dr Boone will check your gums and also will check the way your top and bottom teeth come together (your bite) after insertion of the denture.
The clip or other attachments on the denture usually will need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. They are made of a plastic material (nylon) and will wear after continued use.
What Will X-Rays Show?
An X-ray will show the implants in the jaw and any attachments to them. Dr Boone will take X-rays a few times during the procedure. X-rays will help Dr Boone see that the implants, abutments and attachments are in the right places.
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 generally will 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.
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