Implant-supported dentures offer a number of benefits over traditional dentures. Patients with implant-supported dentures can eat, speak, and smile with confidence, knowing that their dentures are securely in place. Further, implant-supported dentures can actually improve a patient’s oral health. Read on to learn more about the benefits of implant-supported dentures.
Improves Ability to Eat
Although traditional dentures will provide more biting force than a mouthful of missing teeth, it is still far less than can be achieved with real teeth – or implant-supported dentures. Dentures that are anchored by dental implants will triple the patient’s biting force, when compared to traditional dentures, making it easier to eat crunchy, tough, and chewy foods. In addition, implant-supported dentures will not move out of place, even when pressure is applied to the prosthetic when eating.
Improves Ability to Speak
It is common for patients with traditional dentures to mumble, slur their speech, or make clicking noises when speaking. This is caused by tense facial muscles that are struggling to keep poorly fitting dentures in their proper position. With implant-supported dentures, these problems can be a thing of the past. When the dentures are secured to dental implants that have become fully integrated with your jaw bone, they will not move around or become displaced. This greatly improves a patient’s ability to speak clearly.
The prosthetic that is attached to the dental implants is custom made to fit over the patient’s gums. After you have undergone dental implant surgery and your gums have fully healed, an impression is taken of the gums (and any remaining teeth) so the dentures can be fabricated for an optimal fit.
Implant-Supported vs. Traditional Dentures
Implant-supported dentures are affixed to implant posts, which are anchored in the jaw.
Implant-supported dentures are more comfortable for two reasons. First, the dental technician or prosthodontist will craft dentures that offer a good fit. Second, the dentures will stay in their ideal position, permanently, because they are securely attached to the dental implants that have been surgically embedded into the jaw bone.
Looks and Feels More Natural
Custom-made porcelain dentures are crafted to look like your natural teeth (or an improved version of your natural teeth). Great care is taken to design and fabricate a set of teeth that not only look natural, but also complement the size and shape of your mouth. Dentists may first create wax versions of the dentures so patients can try on their new teeth on before the final dentures are made; this process allows for design modifications and fit adjustments that can be applied to the final set of dentures.
Once the dentures have been fabricated, the dentist will attach them to the implants using a ball or stud attachment. Securing the dentures to implants will ensure that they stay in place even when pressure and biting force is applied, making the dentures feel more like natural teeth than replacement teeth.
Don’t Require Dental Adhesives
Implant-supported dentures do not require the use of sticky, messy, foul-tasting dental adhesives. Patients can finally stop buying these products and no longer have to spend time trying to keep their dentures in place. Instead, patients can focus on caring for their dentures in the same manner that they would care for real teeth; patients should brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit the dentist every six months.
Stops Dissolution of the Jaw Bone
When a patient loses their teeth, the jaw bone recognizes that it is no longer serving its purpose of supporting the tooth. As a result, the jaw bone begins to degenerate. The only way to stop this process is to replace some of the missing teeth’s roots with dental implants. Once an implant has been placed, the jaw bone will begin to regenerate, thereby improving the patient’s overall oral health.
Doesn’t Wear Down the Gums
Traditional dentures rest on the gums, which provide the support for these dental appliances. Unfortunately, the dentures eventually wear down the gum tissue, resulting in “shrinking gums”. As the gums recede, the dentures become loose and require additional adjustments to improve their fit.
Because implant-supported dentures are supported by dental implants rather than the gums, patients do not experience this degeneration of gum tissue.
Implant-supported dentures can increase a patient’s confidence level by improving the ability to eat and speak, as well as the appearance of the smile. Patients no longer have to worry about the embarrassment that is caused when dentures slip out of place while in the middle of a conversation or out to eat with friends.
Dental implant-supported dentures have become the best treatment option for patients who are missing all or most of their teeth. The treatment boasts a high success rate, particularly when the patient makes a commitment to the maintenance of good oral health and a qualified dentist performs treatment. However, complications may occur. Here is an overview of the complications that may affect the implants, abutments, and dentures.
Implant Failure Complications
Although dental implant success rates are high, there are cases in which the implant will fail. Most cases of implant failure can be prevented if the patient maintains his or her oral health and chooses a qualified implant dentist to plan and perform the procedure. Dental implants are more likely to fail in the maxilla (upper jaw) than in the mandible (lower jaw). Possible reasons for implant failure include:
Loosening of the screws: The dental implant is attached to the abutment via a screw. Loose screws should be replaced immediately to prevent damage to the implant.
Screw fracture: Screw fractures may occur if there is a defect present, or when the hardware can’t sustain the force that is exerted upon it.
Implant fracture: The dental implant can fracture or break into pieces when the implant is overloaded. This may be caused by placement of the wrong size, length, or type of implant; by placing too many implants; or by improper positioning of the implant.
Loose implants: An implant may become loose when the abutment and replacement teeth have been placed prematurely, there is an insufficient amount of bone to support the implant, or a poor quality implant was placed.
Inadequate bone support: During the planning stages of the dental implant process, the dentist should determine if there is sufficient bone to cover and support the dental implants. If not, bone graft surgery can be performed in preparation for dental implant surgery.
Bone loss around the implant: Once the implant is placed, bone loss can still occur. Bone loss may occur from too much bite pressure being applied to the implants or as a result of poor dental hygiene.
Infection: Patients are at an increased risk of developing an infection anytime surgery is performed. An infection can also develop if the patient is not maintaining good oral hygiene habits. Infection of the tissues, ligaments, and bone surrounding the implant can result in implant failure.
Osseointegration problems: Osseointegration is the process in which the bone reforms around the implant, integrating the titanium post within the jaw bone. Osseointegration problems are more likely to occur if there is not sufficient jaw bone, or if the patient smokes, takes certain medications, or does not maintain good dental health habits.
Three to six months after the dental implants have been placed, the abutment is attached to the implant with a screw. As the abutment becomes worn, complications may occur, resulting in the need for abutment repairs. Patients have reported the following types of abutment complications.
Attachment fractures: If the screw or abutment becomes cracked, it can cause the implants to become overloaded, thereby damaging the implants. Fractured screws and abutment pieces should be replaced as soon as possible.
Retention loss of the clips: The clips that attach the dentures to the abutments may lose their grip and require replacement.
Clip fractures: The clips may become cracked or broken and require replacement.
Attachments becoming dislodged: Due to the high degree of force that is exerted on the attachments, they may move out of place. If the hardware becomes dislodged, visit your dentist so it can be repaired or replaced.
Failure of the abutment screw: If the improper size, length, or type screw was used to attach the implant to the abutment, the screw should be replaced.
Abutment defects: It is possible that defects affect abutment pieces. Defective abutment hardware can increase the risk of attachment fractures, displacement, and retention loss.
The following complications may affect the dentures themselves.
Malformation of the ball sockets: Ball abutments fit into precisely placed and sized sockets on the overdentures. With time, the sockets may become deformed, and the abutment will no longer fit in the socket.
Fractures or cracks in the porcelain prosthetic: Over time, the artificial teeth may crack, resulting in the need for replacement or repairs.
Retention problems: Due to excessive wear, the attachment pieces on the dentures may become less effective and require repair.
Poor stability: Poor stability is typically the result of defects or damage to the attachment pieces. The dentist can check the dentures and abutment pieces to determine the cause of the instability.
Occlusion: If the dentures are not occlusally balanced, it can result in pain, instability, and an overload of pressure. The dentist should check the patient’s bite to ensure that the dentures will feel comfortable and stay in place.
Oral Health Complications
In addition to the complications that are specific to the implant, abutments, and dentures, there are various oral health problems that can occur in patients with dentures. Patients should keep their teeth and gums clean, and visit the dentist every six months so problems, if they exist, can be identified and treated. The types of oral health problems that commonly affect patients with dentures include:
- Gingival hyperplasia
- Hyperplastic tissue
- Mucosal inflammation
- Mucosal proliferation
- Peri-implant mucosal hyperplasia
- Peri-implant mucositis
- Proliferative gingivitis