Implant support dentures are a set of replacement teeth (the dentures) that are attached to an implant in the patient’s jawbone. Whereas tradition dentures rest against the gums, an implant supported denture snaps onto attachments on the implants to hold them in place. Another option is to have permanent replacement teeth in the form of crowns that are affixed to the implants. Your dentist will discuss all of the available options with you in the process, to ensure that a solution is reached that meets your needs.
There are two different kinds of implant support dentures — bar retained and ball retained. The denture itself will have flesh-colored “gums” made of acrylic, with attached teeth that are typically made of porcelain.
Implant support dentures require multiple surgeries, but several things need to happen before that. At your initial consultation, your dentist will take measurements of your mouth and jawbone. X-rays and a CT scan may be needed to determine whether you have enough jaw structure to support the implants. Over the course of several visits, your dentist will have a temporary denture crafted for you to wear until the final denture is placed. The temporary denture will allow your dentist to figure out the optimal location for the teeth in your final denture. A copy of the temporary denture will be made to serve as a guide for where to place the implants. The entire process of being fitted for implant support dentures can take five to seven months to complete.
During the first surgery, your dentist will place the implants in the jawbone. This requires an incision in the gums, followed by holes being drilled into the jawbone. The implants are inserted in the holes and then the incision is closed. The next surgery will not take place until have the implants have fused to the jawbone and become a regular part of your mouth. This process takes about three to four months for implants in the lower jawbone, and five or six months for implants in the upper jawbone. Follow the special instructions that your dentist gives you for caring for the implants during healing process.
During the second surgery, an incision is made in the gums to expose the implants. A healing cap is placed over the head of each implant. These caps help to guide the gums, so they will heal correctly. The caps will stay in place for up to two weeks. Then, the caps will be replaced with regular implant attachment fixtures. Your dentist will then make a mold of the implants, which is used to create your final denture.
The final denture will be placed in your mouth at the fitting. It will initially be fixed in place with wax, to ensure that everything fits properly. At a later visit, your denture will be permanently attached to the implants. Your dentist will give you all the instructions and guidance you will need to adjust care for your new dentures, including any adjustments you will need to make to your diet.
Implant support dentures have several advantages over traditional dentures, but they may not be the correct solution for all patients. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment if you’ve been considering dentures to restore your teeth and your smile.