Unsupported removable dentures can be a low-cost way to mask the appearance of missing teeth, but many modern Americans are turning to implant supported dentures for the same benefits, with an added dose of confidence that their dentures will remain in place. While dentures have been around for centuries, technology has brought them into the modern century with implant supported dentures.
If you are missing two or more teeth and are wondering whether dentures might be an option, schedule a consultation with a reputable Houston dentist. Via dental x-rays and a physical examination, the Houston dentist will let you know if implant supported dentures are right for you and how the process will work.
What Are Implant Supported Dentures?
For those that wear unsupported removable dentures, one of the most terrifying scenarios is that their teeth could come out while speaking, eating, or engaging in other daily activities. Such fears can inhibit a person’s self-confidence and keep them from enjoying life to its fullest. Fortunately, implant supported dentures could help eliminate these fearful feelings with the added stability they provide.
Dental implants are essentially prosthetic teeth roots made of small titanium screws that are implanted directly in the jaw, as long as there is sufficient bone structure. The implanted posts can be used to anchor dentures, crowns, and bridges, and are designed to feel and look like natural teeth.
There are two primary types of implant supported dentures:
- Removable overdentures
- Fixed implant supported dentures
Removable overdentures allow dentures to snap onto dental implants via some sort of clasp or similar device. This option is generally chosen by people who have a smaller budget for dental work as it can be less expensive than fixed implant supported dentures. Removable overdentures still offer some degree of bite strength and stability.
Fixed implant supported dentures are more expensive but are considered by some to be the gold standard. An implant bridge is anchored by implants so that it replaces several missing teeth rather than just one or two. This option is often the most popular because it requires little extra care beyond practicing good oral hygiene. The procedure typically leaves patients feeling more self-confident and comfortable with their appearance while also preventing long-term side effects of having missing teeth.
Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures
The process of getting implant supported dentures can take several months to complete, so people need to be aware of the benefits that can come from the in-depth process. Some of the top benefits patients report experiencing include:
- The elimination of slipping and shifting of dentures – With the implants holding the dentures securely in place, patients will not have to worry about an embarrassing scene caused by the slipping and shifting of their dentures. For many people, knowing they can speak, eat, and enjoy sports without worrying about their dentures coming out provides them with increased confidence and valuable peace of mind.
- The enjoyment of a more varied diet – When wearing dentures that are not anchored by implants, it often causes the individuals wearing them to avoid eating certain foods such as dense fruits and vegetables. With implant supported dentures, patients can again feel free to enjoy foods they once banished from their diet, such as apples, pears, carrot sticks, broccoli, celery, and more. Adding these fruits and vegetables back in can lead to a more well-rounded and nutritious diet.
- The reduction of bone loss – When a person’s teeth are missing, over time it can result in some unpleasant side effects such as the appearance of a sunken in face and bone deterioration. However, implants can help patients avoid these unwelcome effects and keep their appearance largely the same.
While many people are eligible to receive implant supported dentures, not everyone is. One of the key factors of being eligible is having sufficient bone density for implants. Patients must also have a strong immune system and healthy gum tissue in order to tolerate the procedure and avoid complications.
Patients receiving implant supported dentures will embark upon a journey that will typically take a minimum of three months. This is due in large part to the fact that the process requires dental surgery.
Once a Houston dentist has had a consultation with a patient complete with current x-rays and a physical examination, the next step is deciding if the procedure is right for their specific situation. If it is, another appointment will need to be made to begin dental surgery for placing implants into the jawbone.
For surgery, the patient will receive local anesthesia in the vicinity of where the implants will go. A cut will be made in the part of the gum where placement will occur. From there, a special drill is used to put a hole in the bone so it can hold the implant. The implant is then placed and stitches are typically required.
Much of the time involved in this first part of the process is spent on healing. It takes months for the implant to fuse to the bone, and during that time patients will need to avoid putting undue pressure in that area.
After adequate time has passed for healing, the dentist will need to ensure that the implant has fused with the bone via x-rays. If it has, then a second dental surgery will be needed to expose the implant head. This requires localized anesthesia so that a tiny incision can be made on the top of the gum to expose the top of the implant. An implement referred to as a healing cap is adhered to the top of the implant to encourage healing of the gum tissue. A healing cap generally needs up to two weeks before a dentist switches it out for an abutment. An impression is usually made at this point to ensure the proper framework for the dentures.
Once the dentures have been made, they are inserted into place.
Caring for Implant Supported Dentures
Just like the patient’s natural teeth and any other type of dental hardware, implant supported dentures require daily care. People should continue to brush their teeth twice a day, once in the morning and again at night.
When cared for properly and maintained well, implant supported dentures may last up to two decades or more.
If you are missing more than two teeth and are considering implant supported dentures to help stop bone loss and improve your ability to eat and speak, reach out to a reputable Houston dentist today to determine if this is a viable option for you.