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What is an implant-supported denture?

An implant-supported denture is a type of overdenture which uses implants for support and attachment. Traditional dentures stick or suction to the gums. An implant-supported denture is often used when a patient doesn’t have any teeth in the jaw, but has enough bone in their jaw to support implants. An implant-supported denture contains special attachments that connect to attachments on the implants.

Implant-supported dentures are often used for the lower jaw as they provide added stability compared to traditional dentures. A traditional denture placed in the upper jaw is usually stable enough on its own and doesn't require the additional support provided by implants. Patients are able to receive implant-supported dentures in both the upper and/or lower jaw.

Implant-supported dentures should be removed daily for cleaning of the denture and surrounding gum area. Similar to regular dentures, patients should not wear their implant-supported dentures to bed. Some people prefer a fixed or permanent crown and bridgework which isn’t removable. Your dentist will evaluate your oral health, lifestyle needs and preferences to help determine which option is best.

How Does It Work?

There are two different types of implant-supported dentures: bar-retained and ball-retained. For both types, the denture is made from an acrylic base that has a gum-like appearance. Porcelain or acrylic teeth, which have natural appearance, are then attached to the acrylic base. Both types of dentures require at least two implants for sufficient support.

  • Bar-retained dentures: A thin metal bar which follows the curve of your jaw is connected to implants. Two to five implants are usually used. The implants are then surgically placed in your jawbone. Clips, or other attachments, are then fitted to the bar, the denture or both. The denture fits over the bar and securely clips into place by the attachments.
  • Ball-retained dentures: Each implant in the jawbone holds a metal attachment that matches with an attachment on the denture. In most cases, the attachments on the implants are ball-shaped and fit into sockets on the denture.

The Implant Process

Implants are typically placed in the jawbone towards the front of your mouth. There is normally more bone mass in the front of the jaw than in the back. This is true even in circumstances where the teeth have been missing for a while. Once teeth fall out, bone mass in the underlying jawbone area begins to recede. Additionally, the front jaw doesn't contain as many nerves or structures which can interfere with the placement of implants.

The time frame for implant completion depends on a variety of factors. The quickest estimate for the procedure is about five months for a lower jaw implant and seven months for upper jaw implants. These estimates include all components of the procedure including surgery and denture placement. It is possible for the process to last a year or more. The procedure especially takes longer for patients who require bone grafting or other preliminary procedures.

Two surgeries usually are required. The first surgery places the implants under the gums in the jawbone. The second surgery exposes the implant surface where the denture is then attached. The second procedure usually takes place three to six months following the first surgery.

More on Implant Supported Dentures : Implant Supported vs Traditional Dentures

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