There are many downsides to missing teeth. The inability to chew properly limits your nutritional options. Talking clearly becomes all but impossible. If you don’t replace your missing teeth, your jaw bone can deteriorate over time, which results in facial shrinkage and the appearance of premature aging. Obviously, any and all of these consequences can result in embarrassment, diminished self-confidence, and a lower quality of life.
So the question is: What can you do about your missing teeth? While there are several options to choose from, some of the options can prove ineffective and other options are simply too expensive for the average person.
That’s where implant overdentures come in. While implant overdentures are not cheap, they are not the most expensive choice on the market, either. And they can actually prove less expensive than conventional dentures in the long run because they are durable and require minimal maintenance. Also, they are among the most effective teeth replacement solutions available.
In order to help you determine whether they are right for you, this article will discuss the nature and workings of implant overdentures as an alternative to conventional dentures, along with going through their benefits and other essential information.
THE PROBLEM WITH CONVENTIONAL DENTURES
First of all, it’s important to understand that conventional dentures can still improve the lives of those with missing teeth. Getting dentures is a much better option than not doing anything at all because it provides you with a set of teeth and can slow down the process of bone loss in the jaw. However, there are two significant problems with conventional dentures:
- They are less effective than some of the alternatives.
- They are high-maintenance.
Even with conventional dentures, daily tasks like speaking and eating can be difficult, particularly when it comes to harder or more challenging foods. Many patients worry that their dentures will slip and/or fall out while in public, which can be embarrassing. Also, most patients experience significant jaw bone loss over time, albeit at a slightly slower rate than someone with missing teeth.
Conventional dentures are also much more high-maintenance than overdentures or fixed dentures. Though dentures and overdentures are similar in the fact that they must both be removed in order to prevent hygiene issues and bad breath, dentures don’t have the stability and support of implants to rely on. This means that they can wear out quite quickly, and when you factor in the bone loss that occurs, you are left with dentures that don’t fit properly. This causes many patients to have to get their dentures replaced or relined a number of times.
IMPLANT OVERDENTURES EXPLAINED
So, let’s get into some of the details of what implant overdentures actually are, including how they work and what you can expect from the fitting process:
Implant overdentures are a replacement solution for people who are missing multiple teeth or all of their teeth. They are similar to fixed dentures in that both are implant-supported. Unlike fixed implant dentures, however, overdentures are removable and generally larger, which makes for faster and easier cleaning as well as optimal facial support.
Many patients with conventional dentures have experienced their teeth loosening or falling out during meals and conversations. Though you can find numerous adhesives and creams that aim to rectify this problem, they rarely work. With implant overdentures, you don’t have to worry about slippage or any similar issues, as overdentures provide optimal grip throughout the whole day.
Also referred to as “snap-on dentures”, implant overdentures snap into channels that have been inserted into your gums. This means that the dentures are completely secure, which is why patients don’t have to worry about them shifting—even in the slightest.
How Do They Work?
As the name suggests, implant overdentures are supported by implants. Occasionally, overdentures are placed over natural teeth, but most of the time implants are used. This means that, if you choose to get these overdentures, you will undergo a procedure where implants are placed in your upper and/or lower jawbone under the gums. Then, the implants will be allowed to adhere for a few months.
Once your jawbone and gums are ready, abutments will be attached to the implants. A metal frame with three or more implants is typically used as the supporting structure in the upper jaw, while just two implants with no frame are most often used for the lower jaw. These implants are what provide the stability that sets overdentures apart from conventional dentures, as the overdentures remain fastened until they are removed for cleaning. Adding the prosthetic crowns and simulated gum tissue make for a secure set of natural-looking teeth.
How Are They Fitted?
The fitting process typically takes a number of months to complete. You will undergo a consultation with your dentist. This usually involves X-rays to ensure that your jaw is strong enough for implants, followed by a CT scan that will map out the underside of your gums. If approved for the implant overdentures, it will be time to begin treatment, which generally involves three procedures.
The first procedure is where the dentist opens the gums and prepares the jaw for the dental implants. After placing the implants in the jaw, the dentist will sew the gums shut. Depending on the number of implants, among other factors, your mouth will be left to heal for two to six months. The purpose of this time period is not only for the jaw and gums to heal, but it also allows for the jaw to fuse with the implants on a cellular level.
The second procedure involves the dentist reopening the gums and attaching healing collars to the implants. This is followed by a two-week period during which the gums will be allowed to heal. After this period, you will come in for the third procedure; the healing collars will be taken out and the support structures attached. This is also when an impression of your mouth will be taken to create a mold for your dentures and crowns.
After the dentures and crowns are fabricated, you will return to the dentist to have them fitted. Once the overdentures feel comfortable to you, they will be attached to the supporting structures and adjusted as needed.
10 BENEFITS OF CHOOSING IMPLANT OVERDENTURES
Let’s go through the 10 primary advantages of using implant overdentures to see if they sound like an attractive option for you:
Conventional dentures are held in solely by adhesives, which makes them prone to slip during meals and talking. Overdentures, on the other hand, are securely fastened to implants. This provides optimum support and eliminates the fear of slippage. It also means that they will not wear down quickly as conventional dentures do.
Fixed dentures are secure and stable, but they are more difficult to clean than implant overdentures. This is because overdentures can easily be removed by your dentist when you go in for your regular checkups and cleaning, which makes maintaining hygiene a breeze.
The difficulties with chewing and talking and the embarrassment of dislodging are major problems with conventional dentures. However, the frequent slippage of dentures can also cause painful sores in the mouth. This isn’t an issue with implant overdentures, as they are fitted to your exact specifications and fastened securely to support structures.
The fitting process that comes with implant overdentures will result in a set of dentures that comfortably and securely fits your mouth. Moreover, the dentures will look like a natural set of teeth, and they can even be shaped so that they don’t cover your palate, which makes talking and eating much easier.
5. Slowing/Halting of Jaw Bone Loss
One of the most significant long-term advantages of implant overdentures is that they delay—if not stop altogether—the loss of jaw bone. The acts of chewing and eating stimulate your jaw bone, so when these acts are difficult for you to engage in, stimulation of the jaw bone declines. With overdentures, your jaw bone will continue to be stimulated, which will fight the shrinkage that occurs from missing teeth.
6. Prevention of Facial Shrinkage
The shrinkage (resorption) process mentioned above refers to when the distance between your nose and chin shortens over time. This results in the sunken-in look that leaves many people to appear older than they really are. This can be prevented by replacing missing teeth with implant overdentures.
With the secure and non-slip qualities that come with implant overdentures, you can engage in chewing and talking as if you had a complete set of natural teeth. Since you don’t have to worry about your dentures slipping or dislodging, you can enjoy your favorite foods, get the nutrition your body needs, and carry on conversations without the fear of embarrassment.
8. Healthier Digestion
The ability to chew food more thoroughly makes it easier for your stomach to break down that food. This more efficient digestion means that your body can absorb more of the nutrients that help you live a healthy life.
9. Improved Self-Confidence
It’s not hard to see how missing teeth or slipping dentures can harm one’s self-confidence. The reliability of implant overdentures, along with the fact that they look like natural teeth, can go a long way in helping you regain that much-needed confidence and overall quality of life.
10. Costs Can Be Lower
While conventional dentures may cost less upfront, most patients have to get them relined or replaced a number of times. Implant overdentures require much less maintenance, and they can cost as low as half the price of fixed dentures. Therefore, they actually might be the most cost-effective option long-term, especially if you keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance.
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Implant overdentures are designed so that you can easily clean them each day. In fact, you should be able to brush and floss your overdentures the same exact way as you would a natural set of teeth, since they are custom-fitted to your mouth.
Along with brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, it’s important to go to regular checkups at your dentist, which is typically every six months. During this visit, the dentist will be able to detach the overdentures from the implants for deep cleaning. Then, they will reattach them, make any necessary adjustments, and send you on your way.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOU ARE A GOOD CANDIDATE
Thanks to technological advancement in dental implants, most people are good candidates for implant overdentures. However, the only way to know for sure is to schedule a consultation with your dentist. After inspecting the location of your missing teeth, as well as the health of your jaw bone, your dentist will be able to recommend the best course of action.
Implant Overdentures are proving to be one of the most effective methods of replacing missing teeth. Nonetheless, the most important thing is that you address the issue of missing teeth, even if your dentist believes that fixed or conventional dentures will work best in your situation. Leaving the issue unaddressed can result in severe consequences for your overall health and well-being.
Schedule an appointment South Charlotte Dentistry for a consultation to determine the best path forward!