Implant Retained Dentures
What are the advantages of implant-retained denture treatment?
Besides allowing replacement of all missing teeth in a dental arch, dental implants help prevent bone loss that occurs when teeth are lost. When no teeth are present the jawbone has no use, which leads to its deterioration. This shrinkage of the jawbone has esthetic consequences for your face (causing an older appearance), especially when missing all teeth. With the use of implant prostheses, the bone is put to use, preserving it and your facial support.
An implant-retained removable prosthesis can replace both teeth and gum tissue as conventional dentures do. However, it acts more like your natural teeth than conventional dentures. The prosthesis is held in place securely even when you chew and speak. In addition, like all full arch teeth replacement options, these prostheses protect your bite and jaw joint.
In comparison to conventional dentures, these secure and functional teeth are more likely to improve your confidence, self-esteem, and quality of life.
What is an implant-retained denture made of?
An implant-retained denture consists of several parts:
- Multiple (usually 2 to 4) dental implants, which are made of titanium, are placed in the jawbone to replace the roots of some of the missing teeth.
- The abutments (often Locator abutments) or a bar, often made of titanium, are attached to the implant with a screw. This part connects the implants to the removable prosthesis allowing it to “snap” into place. A type of attachment abutment, often a Locator abutment, are used to connect the implants to the denture.
- Implant-retained dentures are made of an esthetic plastic material (acrylic resin) forming both gums and denture teeth. The implant attachments (Locator attachments) have metal housings that are embedded into the acrylic resin. The Locator metal housings have a replaceable nylon that “snap” onto the abutments. Other types of implant attachments use replaceable rubber O-rings to hold onto the abutments.
- Additionally, implant dentures may include a metal framework to provide extra support and strength for both the implants and prosthesis. This metal framework can allow for an upper “palate-less” denture and implant-retained partial denture design.
How many implants do you need for implant-retained dentures?
The number of implants for these removable full-arch prostheses, primarily depends on the arch or jawbone being treated. There is a substantial difference in bone density (hardness of the bone foundation for the implants) between the upper and lower jawbones. By nature, the lower jaw has more dense bone than the upper jaw. Therefore, less implants (usually 2 to 4) are needed for the lower jaw to allow sufficient support of a lower complete denture. On the contrary, more implants (usually 4 or more) are needed to support an upper “palate-less” complete denture. But, this is not the only factor the prosthodontist must take in to account when planning your prosthesis. Just a couple of major other factors include:
- Oral Habits – Most commonly, whether or not the patient suffers from bruxism (clenching and/or grinding teeth) or Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). This factor leads to consideration of more implants.
- The Opposing Arch – Those with natural teeth have increased bite force. Therefore, if the opposing arch is natural teeth, usually more implants are required and vice-versa. For example, when the patient has a conventional upper complete denture without implants opposing a lower implant-retained complete denture, most cases only require two implants in the lower jaw to support the prosthesis
What is the success rate of implant-retained dentures?
For a healthy individual with good oral hygiene, dental implants have reported success rates above 90-95 percent. Good oral hygiene is very important to the success of any implant-supported prosthesis.
The normal lifetime of dentures is 5 to 10 years, but this can vary widely depending on the patient. Over time, these prostheses may need relined or rebased. Relining is when new material is added to the underside of the denture base to re-fit to your gums. Rebasing is when a new base is made while still using the existing teeth. Repairs or replacement of the denture is expected after many years of service. Like natural teeth and conventional dentures, an implant prosthesis can wear and break.
On average, every 6 to 24 months, the Locator nylons or rubber O-ring part of the implant attachment apparatus used to retain the dentures wear out. When this happens, the dentures don’t “snap” in or hold as tight as they used to (the retentive force is decreased). Usually, with replacement of only the Locator nylons or O-rings they fit nice and snug again. However, usually after many years of service (average 5 to 15 years), the abutments may need to be replaced due to wear.
How do I clean my implant-retained dentures?
It is important to keep in mind that any removable denture (including implant-retained) are not meant to be worn 24 hours a day. It is recommended to take them out at night. The tissues that are covered with denture material all the time can become irritated or even infected (candidiasis). Like natural teeth, you must take good care of dentures. Make sure to clean them on a daily basis to avoid accumulation of food particles or plaque. When brushing them avoid the use of toothpaste because most toothpastes contain abrasive particles. Liquid hand soap is a good alternative. Keep them in water or a denture soaking solution when not wearing them so they do not dry out. Rinse them very well after using any denture cleanser because it may contain chemicals that should not go in the mouth.
The implants require regular at-home and professional hygiene maintenance just as natural teeth do. Brushing the implants and abutments twice a day is very important. In addition, visits to our Registered Dental Hygienist every 3 to 6 months for dental implant maintenance is recommended.
Implant-retained dentures are a great way to provide more conformity, better stability, and better speech. Talk to our prosthodontist and find out if they are an option for you.
For any further questions about implant-retained dentures please do not hesitate to ask us.