What are implant-retained dentures?

In the past, conventional, removable dentures were often the only option available for people who were missing all of their teeth in either the upper lower jaw, or in both jaws. Many denture wearers learned all too well that removable dentures aren’t a particularly satisfactory solution for missing teeth. Even though conventional dentures are fitted to the wearer’s mouth, when there are no teeth in a person’s jawbone, eventually, the bones of the jaw and the gums will change shape, affecting the fit of the dentures and leading to uncomfortable, loose dentures. Dentures that don’t fit properly are not only uncomfortable, they can also affect the wearer’s ability to eat certain foods, and their awkward fit may make the wearer uncomfortable about their appearance, have difficulty enunciating, or hesitate to smile. Because of the mechanics and the structure of the mouth, the changing shape of the gums and jaw is inevitable when the teeth are removed or when they fall out. Without the roots of the teeth present to stimulate the alveolar bones of the jaw, the bone will progressively resorb, flattening and narrowing until the dentures it once supported are loose and poorly supported. In addition to affecting the fit of conventional, removable dentures, this bone resorption will also eventually lead to a sunken appearance in the lower face, as the bone is no longer able to support the muscles of the face.

Implant-retained dentures can prevent all of these unpleasant side effects from arising after multiple teeth are lost. Implant-retained dentures don’t move once they’re placed, allowing the wearer to enjoy all the foods they love and to talk and smile freely. In addition, implant-retained dentures support the tissue of the cheeks and lips, and they also help stimulate the bones in the jaw, restoring a sunken appearance to the face you remember. Implant-retained dentures snap onto dental implants, which are placed directly into the jaw. These dentures can be removed for cleaning, but the implants themselves stay in the jaw. Much of the time, it’s possible to use only two or four implants to support a lower denture that contains an entire row of teeth; more implants are usually needed for the upper arch. One of the fringe benefits of implant-retained dentures in the upper jaw is that the palate isn’t covered, as it would be with a conventional, removable denture, which can contribute significantly to your ability to taste and enjoy all the foods you once loved.

Implant-retained dentures can be an excellent and reasonably affordable option for many different dental patients. Even if you lost your teeth long ago, and the bones in your jaw have begun to resorb, implants use available bone in the jaw efficiently, so it is likely that you could be a great candidate for implant-retained dentures. Of course, some patients require bone grafts to support implant-retained dentures, but the implants themselves, once placed, can help strengthen the existing bone. If you’re in reasonably good health, both physically and dentally, you may be a good candidate for implant-retained dentures. Your dentist can thoroughly assess your health and determine whether implant-retained dentures would work for you.