Implant-retained Dentures vs. Implant-supported Dentures
People who wear dentures are often unhappy with conventional, removable dentures, which can be uncomfortable and ill-fitting, and they may seek solutions. Dental implants can be placed into the jaw to support dentures; this has proven to be a popular, effective solution for many people. Implant-retained dentures and implant-supported dentures are two different options, each of which can provide greater stability and improved functionality. The decision between these two types of dentures can depend on multiple factors.
Implant-supported dentures are fixed in the mouth, permanently attached to the implants on which they rely for support. Implant-supported dentures absorb force effectively, distributing the pressure from biting and chewing evenly into the jawbone. This most closely resembles a person’s natural bite and is mechanically both efficient and effective. Because a higher number of implants must be placed in the jaw to support these implants, however, and because mini implants are not usually sufficient to support permanent dentures, implant-supported dentures tend to be more expensive than other options. Additionally, in order for implant-supported dentures to be successful, a substantial amount of healthy, good-quality bone must be present at the implant site. This is not always a possibility, as loss of the teeth causes gradual bone resorption; if the patient is seeking dentures after the teeth have been out for a significant period of time, there may not be enough bone present to support implants. Bone grafts and regeneration of the soft tissue can be options when there is insufficient bone available, though some people hesitate to undergo these additional surgical procedures. For these people, implant-retained dentures may be preferable.
Implant-retained dentures require fewer implants than implant-supported dentures. This means that the gums sustain more force from biting and chewing than the implants do. Because fewer implants are required, implant-retained dentures are less expensive than their permanent counterparts; this is especially true when mini implants are an option. Implants can be placed in such a way to capitalize as much as possible on available healthy bone, specifically being placed in areas where the bone is stronger and thereby eliminating the need for bone or soft-tissue grafts. Implant-retained dentures can restore a person’s ability to eat and talk confidently and comfortably, though they do not provide the same utility as permanent dentures; for example, while most foods can be enjoyed while wearing implant-retained dentures, it is not advisable to try to bite directly into a whole apple or other hard, large foods. Implant-retained dentures must also be removed nightly for cleaning.
Your dentist can help you weigh the pros and cons of each of these popular dental restorations, taking into consideration your budget, your overall health, and your dietary and lifestyle choices. Certain health factors, like sleep apnea, must be considered, as people with sleep apnea often report that they prefer to sleep with teeth in their mouths, making implant-supported dentures a better choice for this population. Lifestyle preferences may also affect the choice; some people simply prefer to wake up with teeth in their mouths. Dietary preferences can also influence the choice; people who love to eat whatever they want may prefer implant-supported dentures, while people with fewer specific dietary preferences may be fine with implant-retained options. Of course, cost is an important factor as well, and each of these factors should be carefully reviewed with your dental health provider before any treatment begins.