A Patient’s Guide to Implant-Supported Dentures

While this is a highly personal decision, you can always benefit from the expert opinion and compassionate consideration of your care team at Maryland Prosthodontic Associates. Read on to learn more about this innovative option, and contact us for a consultation to see if Implant-Dentures in Baltimore & Columbia could be right for you.

About Implant-Supported Dentures

The first step in deciding if these dentures are right for you is to understand how they are different from other denture types. Implant-supported dentures are overdentures that are made stable with implants. Other types of dentures simply rest over the gums, while these are secured to the gums.

The reason this type of denture is used is because the person doesn’t have any teeth in the jaw but has enough bone to support implants. This allows for the special attachments of the implants to snap into the implants. Implant-supported dentures are most suitable for the lower jaw because regular dentures are usually much less stable on the bottom. the upper jaw provides much more support for regular dentures, so it usually doesn’t need implants. However, for some patients, it is possible to have implants placed on both the upper and lower jaw. The biggest draw to implant-supported dentures is not having to deal with them moving when speaking or eating. While the dentures do come out of the mouth for cleaning, when they are in the mouth, they remain there.

Types of Implant-Supported Dentures

There are two types of implant-supported dentures available:

  • Bar-retained
  • Ball-retained

They are both made with an acrylic base that looks just like normal gums. The “teeth,” are made of porcelain or acrylic and look just like natural teeth when attached to the base.

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Get to Know the Differences Between Bar & Ball-Retained

Bar-retained dentures have a thin metal bar that goes around your jaw and is set in place with two to five implants in the jawbone. The bar has attachments on it, like clips, which is how the dentures become stable. The denture simply clips into the attachment. Ball-retained dentures are also called stud-attachment dentures and they use a metal attachment in the jawbone to stabilize the dentures. The implants have a male attachment (a ball) and a female attachment (socket). The denture has the ball and connects to the socket in the jawbone. The type that will work best for you depends on what your jawbone can handle. If you decide implant-supported dentures are for you, your dentist can tell you whether your jawbone is best suited for the bar-retained or ball-retained dentures.

The Process of Placing the Implants

After performing a complete examination, the dentist will place the implants. Usually, this is done on the front part of your jaw because the front usually has more strength than the back of the jaw. Even if teeth have been missing for quite some time and bone loss has been significant, this remains true. The front jaw also doesn’t have as many nerves that could get in the way of placing the implants.

It takes several months to place the implants into the jaw because it cannot be done all at once. The lower jaw takes about 5 months in total while the upper jaw usually takes about 7 months. The process is slow because the process of placing the implants includes surgery to place the dentures in the correct location. If you need bone grafting or other procedures to make implants possible, the process of having them put in could take more than a year.

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Implant-Dentures Surgeries

Most people at least require two surgeries to implant their dentures. The first surgery involves placing the implants into the jawbone, and the second one exposes the implants that were placed under the gums. The second surgery can only be done after the first one heals, which is about six months later. There is a one-stage procedure that can be used, but not everyone is a candidate for this procedure.

Your dentist can help you manage your expectations for your unique case. The time involved in having implants placed is an obvious consideration when deciding if implant-supported dentures are for you. Many people will try regular dentures first, and then decide to move forward with implants when they find they don’t like the way that dentures move inside of their mouth when speaking and eating. 

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Preparing for Implant Dentures

Preparing for implant dentures in Baltimore & Columbia is much like preparing for other surgeries. It begins with an initial consultation with a prosthodontist or general dentist with advanced implant training. The consultation includes a thorough exam. At this time, the prosthodontist will review your medical and dental histories. 

You will have x-rays taken of your teeth and gums for impressions to be created. Depending on your history and x-rays, a computed tomography (CT) scan may be requested, as well as 3D scanning and imaging. This will show the dentist your sinuses and the nerves located close to your upper jaw, so they will not be affected during the implant procedure. The dentist will also learn how much bone is available in the jaw, so they know where to place the implants best.

If you don’t have dentures already, the dentist will have a set made for you. The dentures are temporary while you go through the implant process. As you wear the temporary dentures, the dentist will ascertain the best placement for the implants.

What to Expect from the First Implant Denture Surgery

The first surgery aims to place the implants into the jawbone. An incision is made into the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is drilled into the bone, and the implants are placed. The incision is closed with stitches. No pressure should be placed on the implants after surgery. The temporary dentures will be adjusted to ensure it doesn’t place undue pressure on them.

The prosthodontist may place a soft reline on the dentures, which is a lining that can help decrease the pressure on the gums. This part of the implant process takes about three to four months if placed in the lower jaw and five or six months if placed in the upper one. During this time, the bone and implant attach and fuse together.

The Final Appointment

After a month or so, when your permanent dentures are ready, you’ll visit your prosthodontist to complete the implant denture process. You will have a metal bar placed on the abutments. The new dentures will be placed inside your mouth and secured to the bar. When properly fitted, the prosthodontist will place them on a framework in wax. The whole denture will then be placed in the mouth, and the prosthodontist will ensure everything looks right and functions properly.

The temporary dentures will receive a new reline. You can keep these in a safe location in case you need them someday. For instance, if you lose or break the dentures you receive after placing your implants, you can use the temporary one as a backup.

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Worth Consideration: Potential Complications

Since the process of placing the implants is considered surgery, the risks of surgery are present. The prosthodontist will review these risks with you and discuss any medical issues that may elevate those risks.

If you decide to have bar-retained dentures, there are some possible complications you should be aware of before moving forward. The framework of this type of denture can take up a lot of space, and that can cause the teeth to become loose over time. While this doesn’t always happen, when it does, a prosthodontist can fix it quite easily by securing the teeth to the base again.

The other consideration is that the bar must be balanced on the implant. Prosthodontists call this making sure there is a “passive fit.”

How to Care for Implant-Dentures

You will need to care for your full mouth dentures in much of the same way you care for your natural teeth. The denture should be removed every night to clean it. The attachments should also be cleaned carefully. No abrasive cleaners or force should be placed on the attachments. If the fit isn’t passive, extra strain on a bar could lead to the screens loosening. If you have bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth), this could be a problem for you as the dentures could break or the implant could become loose.

During regular checkups with your dentist, they will check your dentures to ensure they are not rubbing up against your gums, which is irritating. This can happen sometimes if the attachments move when chewing. After cleaning, the denture can be adjusted and then placed back in the mouth. The attachments/clips may need to be replaced every six to 12 months for bar-retained dentures since they are made of nylon and can be worn.

The Benefits of Implant Dentures

If you’re still unsure if implant dentures are for you, consider the benefits:

  • Implant dentures are more stable than regular dentures.
  • People find they are easier to speak and eat with because they don’t become loose or fall out of the mouth.
  • You may like the look of them better because you can have the teeth made from porcelain.
  • Full mouth dentures are long lasting, meant to last a lifetime.
  • They are more comfortable.
  • Implant dentures integrate with your jawbone, which keeps the bone healthy and intact.
  • Easier to maintain over other types of dentures.
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Schedule Your Consultation for A Lifetime Smile

For more information about implant-supported dentures and if they may be right for you, make an appointment to visit the experts at Maryland Prosthodontics Associates. Your dedicated prosthodontist can help you make the decision easier by reviewing all your options and developing a care plan suited to your unique needs. 

Ready to discover your new smile in Baltimore or Columbia, Maryland? We’re ready to help.

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