Implant Supported Dentures
IMPLANT SUPPORTED DENTURES – WHY?
Implant supported dentures are a modern alternative to conventional dentures and can provide a number of significant advantages for those who choose to wear them. This type of denture is held in place by titanium screw-like posts which are inserted into the jawbone offering greatly improved stability, aesthetics and comfort as well as preventing facial collapse due the absorption of the jawbone following tooth loss.
Conventional dentures rely on suction between the base of the denture and the gum tissue, along with muscle control and correct positioning of the tongue. While the retention and stability of conventional dentures can be unpredictable, implant supported dentures are extremely well retained giving the wearer a level of functionality which is close to that of a full set of natural healthy teeth. This is partly due to the fact that titanium – of which the implants are made – has unique properties which prevents rejection by the body’s immune system and enables bone to fully integrate with it providing an immensely secure fixture for the denture to be attached. With implant supported dentures the wearer can experience approximately 75% of the chewing capability of natural teeth as compared to around 15% for regular dentures.
Sore spots can occur due to the movement of conventional dentures; this happens as the denture moves slightly and rubs against the gums or due to uneven pressure distribution when chewing food. Because implant dentures are securely retained, sore spots rarely occur and pressure points are prevented as bite forces are transmitted directly to the implants.
Prevention of Bone Loss
One of the biggest long-term problems which occurs following tooth loss is a reduction in the amount of bone in the jaw. This is thought to happen due to the bone which once held the tooth root not being stimulated any more following tooth loss. The bone then absorbs into the body resulting in an appearance of premature aging due to facial collapse which causes sinking of the cheeks, excessive wrinkles and a protruding lower lip. Research has shown that approximately 50% of the bone which surrounded extracted teeth will disappear within 2 years of the teeth being removed. Although the appearance of this problem can be partly rectified by the fitting of replacement bulkier conventional dentures it is not the perfect solution.
By inserting dental implants soon after the teeth have been extracted, absorption of the jaw bone and facial collapse will be avoided. The implants act as healthy teeth and help to continue to stimulate the bone preventing the appearance of premature ageing. Even if only 2 dental implants are used to support the denture they will have a significant effect in reducing facial collapse. If 4 or 6 implants are used the problem does not occur. It is possible for seniors who have been wearing conventional dentures for a number of years to switch to implant retained dentures despite suffering from some degree of facial collapse. In such instances, a bone graft is often carried out to rebuild the jawbone prior to the implants being placed.
The Main Disadvantage
The only real disadvantage of implant supported dentures when compared to conventional dentures is the cost which can exceed $10,000 compare to around $1,600 for conventional dentures. Insurance plans rarely cover the complete cost of implant retained dentures but most policies will cover part of the cost of the denture itself and some may also cover the cost of the attachments which fix it to the implants. We are open to discuss options available to help our patients cover the cost of implant supported dentures.