A Patients’s Guide To Implant Supported Dentures

If you’ve made the decision to have dentures and trying to decide which type of dentures is best for you, it’s likely you’ve come across implant-supported dentures, or full mouth implants. Many people consider this type of denture when they are trying to make their decision, and that’s because there are many benefits to them not available with other options. This is why you should thoroughly research all types of dentures before making your decision. It’s a highly personal one that depends on exactly what you want from your dentures.

About Implant-Supported Dentures

The first step in deciding if these dentures are right for you is to understand how they are different from others types. Implant-supported dentures are overdentures that are made stable with implants. Other types of dentures simply just rest over the gums, but implant supported ones 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 for support for regular dentures, so it usually doesn’t need implants. With this being said, it is possible to have implants placed on 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

As you’re exploring the option of implant-supported dentures, you may find there are two types available:

  1. Bar-retained
  2. Ball-retained

They are both made with an acrylic base. This base looks just like normal gums. The teeth made of porcelain or acrylic teeth look just like natural teeth, and they attach to the base.

The differences between the two types are:

Bar-retained dentures have a thin metal bar that goes around your jaw. It 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 male attachment and connects to the socket, which is the female attachment.

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. Besides the front of the jaw being stronger, the front jaw also doesn’t have 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 is easier, so it can take about 5 months. The upper jaw could take 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.

Most people require two surgeries. 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.

The good news for some people is that there is a one-stage procedure that can be used. Not everyone is a candidate for this procedure, however.

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. Of course, other people do not mind the movement and live comfortably with non-implanted dentures.

Preparing for Implant Dentures

Preparing for implant dentures is similar to preparing for other surgeries. It begins with an initial consultation with a prosthodontist or general dentist who has advanced training in implants. 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 histories and x-rays, a computed tomography (CT) scan may be requested. 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 CT scan can also tell the dentist how much bone is available in the jaw, so he knows where the best places are to put the implants.

If you don’t have dentures already, the dentist will have one made for you. The dentures are temporary while you go through the implant process. As you wear the temporary dentures, the dentist will be able to tell where the best place is for the implants.

The good news is that even after you have the implants placed, you may still need the temporary dentures. If the implant-supported dentures ever become misplaced, the temporary ones can be used instead. The attachments can be added to them, so they can function just as your implant-supported ones do.

What to Expect with the First Implant Dentures Surgery

The goal of the first surgery is to place the implants into the jawbone. This is when an incision is made into the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is drilled into the bone and then the implants is placed into it. The incision is closed with stitches.

No pressure should be placed on the implants after surgery. The temporary dentures can 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 next to your gums 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 month if placed in the upper one. During this time, the bone and implant attach and fuse together.

What to Expect During the Second Implant Dentures Surgery

The prosthodontist will first make sure the bone and implant have fused with an x-ray. If they have, surgery is scheduled to have an incision made in your gums. This is how the tops of the implant can be exposed, so the dentures can attach to them.

When the implant tops are exposed, the prosthodontist will place healing caps on them. The healing caps may also be called collars. This will help the gum tissue heal correctly. The cap or collar will keep the gum from healing over the implant, which would cover it again. After about 2 weeks, the prosthodontist will remove the caps (collars) and replaced with abutments because the gums should be completely healed and the threat of them covering the implant is no longer a concern. The dentist will make an impression of your gum and abatements at this time to make the dentures that will go with your implants.

Before leaving, the dentist will adjust the temporary dentures and possibly add another soft reline to them. This will help the dentures secure to the healing caps.

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 it fits properly, the prosthodontist will place them on a framework in wax. The whole denture will then be placed in the mouth and the prosthodontist will make sure everything looks and functions properly.

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

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 on 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 Full Mouth 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, there could be extra strain on a bar that could lead to the screens loosening. If you have bruxism (grinding or clench 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, he will check your denture. He will check to make sure it is not rubbing up against your gums causing irritation. This can happen sometimes if the attachments move when chewing. The denture can be adjusted and then placed back in the mouth after cleaning.

For bar-retained dentures, the attachments/clips may need to be replaced every six to 12 months since they are made of nylon and can wear after a while.

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.

For more information about implant-supported dentures and if they may be right for you, contact a prosthodontist in Baltimore at Maryland Prosthodontics Associates. They can help you make the decision easier by reviewing all your options and giving you the information needed to decide which one would be best suited for your needs. Contact a Baltimore prosthodontist now at 443-519-5293.

Better Health Care is Our Mission

At Maryland Prosthodontic Associates, we take the time to go over and answer any concerns or questions you may have before we begin your treatment, and we do it all in a relaxing no-pressure setting. Our easy appointment scheduling, convenient office hours, and flexible payment options are designed to make your experience something you can tell your friends and family about.

Same Day Appointments are Available.

6569 N. Charles Street Physician Pavilion West Suite 601 Baltimore, MD 21204

(443) 519-5293